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Hara castle, completely destroyed

Hara was destroyed out of fear that the dead might rise. People from a different religion later came here to mourn the dead.

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Candidates for a world heritage

Site of Hara Castle Site of Hara Castle
Site of Hara Castle

Following the Amakusa-Shimabara rebellion of 1637, the Edo shogunate completely destroyed Hara castle. During recent excavation work, many human bones were discovered near the main gate (which marked the entrance to the castle's keep) as well as from around a narrow entrance beyond which lead to a wide space. On top of the bones lay both big stones from the outside of the castle’s destroyed stone wall and smaller stones from the castle’s inner part, which in turn were covered in clayey soil. It was said that it looked as though the dead were being feared.
When Hara castle was destroyed, its stone walls were buried in a heap, and the corner stones were removed from the remains of its turret (which is thought to have been built facing the sea). This was done in order to ensure that Hara would never again be restored as a castle.
Around 130 years after the rebellion, the chief priest of this area’s Ganshinji temple, together with every village headsman, gathered together the remains of the deceased and erected a statue of Jizō (a Buddhist guardian deity). This Jizō was called "Honekami" which in Japanese has the implied meaning "to chew bones thoroughly". This is said to mean that Jizō claims the dead for himself (i.e. helps them). Flowers and confectionary, including chitoseame (a red and white candy stick sold at children's festivals), are still offered here today.