The Amakusa-Shimabara rebellion

Many Christians fought in the Amakusa-Shimabara rebellion. At Hara castle, an estimated 27,000 men, women and children lost their lives.

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Candidates for a world heritage

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

The year was 1637. For several years, Shimabara and Amakusa had experienced bad harvests due to poor weather, and had also been beset with earthquakes and other natural disasters. Collection of the annual land tax by the Matsukura clan's feudal lords was severe, and the oppression of Christians had become increasingly intense. Notes urging people to return to Christianity, saying the end of the world was near, and that if you were a Christian you would be saved, were circulating.
It is thought that one possible reason a rebellion was able to occur is because Arima Harunobu's former retainers led the peasants in rebellion. Joined by villagers from the Shimabara peninsular, these ringleaders attacked Shimabara castle. At the same time as this, rebel forces also attacked Tomioka castle in Amakusa. Their momentum increased, and approximately 27,000 people concentrated at Hara castle and barricaded themselves in.
Around 120,000 shogunate troops besieged Hara castle for approximately 3 months, urging those inside to surrender. The desperate rebellion ended one night when shogunate troops launched an all-out attack, executing almost all of the besieged populace. It was around the time when the cherry blossom was in bloom.