2019.11.21Shimabara Castle which is adored by citizens
A town with the Shimabara Castle
Shimabara is a town where you can walk around the castle. It ’s a compact city in modern terms. From the town, you can see the castle all day long. I live near the castle. When I get up in the morning, go to local Shinto deity “Takeshima Shrine” to pray. After that, making the rounds of the Shimabara Castle, then my day starts. In the evening, head to Ote while looking up at the white castle with feeling a slightly buzzed. Eat ramen at the ramen stall to call it a night.
On New Year's Day, the Shimabara Castle is opened to public, and the first sunrise can be seen from the castle. This year, we were blessed with the weather, and the morning sun rising from the Ariake Sea was nicely seen. I live around the castle and with the castle.
Citizen's castle, emotional support
Shimabara Castle was built about 400 years ago. Although it was demolished once, the old castle is still alive.
It wasn't until Meiji that the castle was demolished. There were many quarrels that represent the Southwest War in Kyushu. Therefore, the castle was dismantled so that it would not become a base for the clan of war against the Meiji government.
The construction of the castle was progressed in Showa. People who were born in Edo period and remembered the Shimabara Castle before the dismantling were still alive in the early Showa era. School teachers at that time listened to them and left drawing of the castle.
In Shimabara, old documents collected by the former Shimabara lord Matsudaira in the Hizen Shimabara Matsudaira Bunko are carefully stored. Also a valuable archive of the castle dimensions are still carefully stored.
It became a castle reconstruction boom for the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, and 90 million yen entered as the castle reconstruction budget from the country. Citizens are also very interested in collecting donations of 35 million yen.
The Shimabara Castle, which was the same as the old days, could be reproduced by drawing of the castle, the materials of Matsudaira Bunko, and the donation which citizens gathered. In the past, it was a castle that the lord said, “Build it now, build it now”, but there is a feeling that the current castle was built by the citizens themselves.
I would like to bring up the pride of their hometown through history
I was originally a junior high school teacher. At that time, it was the period of high economic growth after the Olympics. The region has become a source of power for the city. More and more students came to the city, and depopulation progressed.
So I thought I would like to cultivate the pride of their hometown in people’ mind, not just teaching history. “I would like my students to be proud of Shimabara, and even when they go to the city, I would like them to come back to Shimabara again.” With that in mind, I started writing a book about the history of Shimabara.
When I retired from school, there was a disaster at Mt. Unzen Fugendake. There were visits and encouragements from all over the country. I started a sightseeing tour guide and guide of history to give it back. There are various aspects of Shimabara, such as castle tours and courses to visit the disaster-stricken areas. It can be arranged in any way according to customer requirements.
It becomes the fifth year this year that I am on stage at a citizen university held in Shimabara Castle. Last year was 25 years after the disaster of Mt. Unzen Fugendake, so the citizens who were struggling at the time became lecturers and talked from their respective positions. It is unique to Shimabara that the castle is a place where citizens gather. I am encouraged every day from the Shimabara Castle.
Date of interview: June, 2017
Mr. Takuji Matsuo was born in Shimabara City in 1945. Worked at a junior high school as a social studies teacher, and is currently a specialist in the Shimabara Castle Museum and the president of the Shimabara Commission for Protection of Cultural Properties. His books include “Oharashi Shimabara History”, “Go Shimabara Kaido” and “Go Nagasaki Kaido”