The Matsukura clan, who gained control of the whole of Shimabara area (including the Arima domain once controlled by the Christian daimyo Harunobu Arima), imposed forced labor and excessive taxes on the local peasants of the area.
Suffering from famine and overexertion, in 1637 the peasants of the Arima domain took up arms together with the peasants of Amakusa (who suffered from similar oppression) and revolted against their lords in what became known as the Shimabara-Amakusa Rebellion.
Roughly 37,000 peasants gathered and were besieged at the site of Hara Castle, the castle of the Arima clan which had been dismantled under a law which allowed only one castle per province. The siege lasted for 88 days, and ended with the slaughter of every rebel, including women and children.
Hara Castle was completely demolished after that, but archaeological investigation has revealed countless human bones, crucifixes and medallions. It is thought that the faith that had remained since the time of Harunobu Arima’s reign enabled the rebels to hold out at the castle site for so long both isolated and unaided.
By Shimatetsu Bus: 15 min walk from Harajo-mae bus stop
(Available time: 08:00 – 18:30)