2017年08月08日

'Shimabara Castle' was built in the first half of the 17th century, by 'Matsukura Shigemasa' a newly appointed feudal lord of Shimabara domain.

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The whole area of present Shimabara City in Nagasaki Prefecture had been ruled by 'Arima' clan till the beginning of the 17th century. In 1626, after that, Matsukura Shigemasa was appointed as a new feudal lord from present Nara Prefecture. He built Shimabara Castle as shown in the first picture for his dwelling as well as a stronger fortress than old castles in other parts of Shimabara. As this castle was far too splendid for his states, and it took too much effort for the construction work because of the hard ground made of lava, the construction cost had become unexpectedly great. In order to meet this great expense, he strictly collected more and more land tax from the masses. This triggered 'Amakusa-no-ran' Japan's largest riot. He finally suppressed this riot helped by other feudal lords though, 'Tokugawa' central government beheaded him. He is the one and only feudal lord who was decapitated in the 'Edo' period, the 17th-19th century.
*Other executed feudal lords were ordered to commit 'hara-kiri (seppuku)', which was regarded to be honorable. But beheading was a very much dishonorable way, as it was applied to common people who committed a serious crime.
This beautiful castle was dismantled at the end of the 17th century though, it had been gradually rebuilt since 1960.

Licensed tour guide/travel consultant,
Masahisa Takaki.

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posted by masahisa at 15:39 | Kyushu | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

2017年08月04日

'Unzen Onsen', lying in the mountainous area of the Shimabara Peninsula in Nagasaki Prefecture, is a graceful hot spring resort.

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Unzen Onsen hot spring resort is one of the first national parks in Japan, which was designated in 1934 together with two other ones. The origin of this resort dates back to the end of the 17th century, when the first feudal lord of the Shimabara domain built a 'ryokan' with hot spring baths in this area.
*As a passing reference, this ryokan is still running after ups and downs by the name of 'Unzen Yumoto Hotel'.
After the middle of the 19th century, when Japan's modernization had just started, Unzen Onsen was thronged with many Westerners from the International Settlement in Shanghai, China. Present 'Unzen Kanko Hotel', built in the first half of the 20th century, is a Western style classic hotel to accommodate these Westerners. The area called 'Jigoku' inferno, where volcanic steam is gushing out everywhere, offers typical volcanic scenery to the sightseers walking along the promenade. (As shown in the first picture)
This volcanic area has gradually moved little by little, so the extinct volcanic area had changed to the wetlands for rare insects and plants. (As shown in the second picture)

Licensed tour guide/travel consultant,
Masahisa Takaki.

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posted by masahisa at 10:26 | Kyushu | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする

2017年08月01日

'Unzen Fugendake' volcano, rising in the central part of the Shimabara Peninsula in Nagasaki Prefecture, brought serious damage caused by the repeated eruptions in 1990-1991.

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Unzendake volcano, which consists of 8 peaks, has erupted so many times since olden times. Fugendake as shown in the first picture is a main peak of this composite volcano. Among many eruptions in Japanese history, the greatest disaster happened here in 1712 involved some 15,000 deaths. The latest disastrous eruption of Fugendake in 1991 is still fresh in our mind. This eruption started in Nov.1990 and finally reached the worst in the following year. Sticky lava formed a huge dome on the summit then it collapsed due to its own weight to become pyroclastic flows at a speed of 100 kilometers an hour. 43 people, most of them are the press, were killed in the incandescent flows. Thereafter, volcanic ashes and rocks remained on the mountainside were washed by heavy rain to hit the many houses near the coast as shown in the second picture. As the locals had left the area in advance, no people were killed by these debris flows.

Licensed tour guide/travel consultant,
Masahisa Takaki.

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posted by masahisa at 15:09 | Kyushu | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする