Friday, September 30, 2011

Shimabara Castle Nagasaki

Shimabara Castle Nagasaki is located between the Ariake Bay and Mount Unzen on the Shimabara Peninsular.  The outer moat is 15 meters deep and between 30–50 meters wide, extends 360 meters east-west and 1260 meters north-south.  The main building has five stories,  a height of 33 meters and is connected to two secondary buildings, each with three stories.

The Arita Clan (Christian ruler) ruled over the domain from Hinoe Castle and Hara Castle.  After the start of the national isolation policy the Tokugawa Regime banned Christianity from 1614 and replaced Arima with the Matsukura Clan.  Matsukura, who strictly enforced the prohibition against Christianity with mass executions, also severely raised taxes to pay for the construction of his new Shimabara Castle from 1618-1624.  This oppression of the peasants was a major factor leading to the Shimabara Rebellion.  Shimabara Castle Nagasaki came under siege during the Shimabara Rebellion but was not damaged.

Today only the moat and stone walls remain from the original structure.  In 1980, a memorial museum was opened in honor of Seibo Kitamura, a noted sculptor and designer of the famous Peace Statue at the Peace Park in Nagasaki City.   In 2006, the Shimabara Castle Nagasaki was listed one of the 100 finest Castles in Japan by the Japan Castle Foundation.

Sometimes I am in awe when i am driving down the hill from the mountain and the Shimabara Castle Nagasaki suddenly appears in the foreground.  A real Castle that operated over 400 years ago and still remains today albeit a restored type but really portrays the history and the real life setting of what life was like in Japan in the 17th century.

An absolute must visit for visitors to Nagasaki to inspect its history and beauty.

Check out the Shimabara Castle Nagasaki on a map!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:


Tour Group

One of the Outer Buildings

The view

Another view

The entrance

With Plum blossoms

















Click on the videos below to see some performances by the staff at the Shimabara Castle:




Check out Shimabara Castle Nagasaki on this videos below:



Monday, September 26, 2011

Nagasaki Buddhist Stone Carvings

Nagasaki Buddhist Stone Carvings are the sorts of places that only comes around once in a while and when it does you should grab it with both hands and hold on tight!  It is one of those places that takes you hours to find but the end product is more than worth the effort put in to find it.

Nagasaki Buddhist Stone Carvings are interesting to say the least.  I heard through a friend that there was this isolated place up in the mountainside of Isahaya that had literally hundred of Buddhist carvings.  Quite a long drive and numerous wrong turns and the occasional asking of directions to the confused local on why a foreigner who isn't Buddhist would be searching for this place.

Finally I arrived at the entrance to the ravine and found the 'Gohyaku Rakan', known as the 500 Buddhist disciples which have been embedded in a rock face.  They are relief carvings in the rocks to commemorate the 487 victims of the 1699 flood of Isahaya.  The number of carvings are impossible to count in there entirety we just have to trust that there are 500 in total.  The shapes,  sizes and faces, features and style are all different and it is worthwhile to look carefully at each carving and identify each intricate and special individual feature.

An amazing site well worth a look or 2 or 3 or even 500!  One could spend a good couple of hours here or even an afternoon looking at all the delicate and amazing details that has been carved into the rock wall.  How many hours of pain staking effort it took to finish the job is beyond imagination, I just want to say thankyou to whoever completed this amazing works!

Have a look the Nagasaki Buddhist Stone Carvings on a map!

Please click on the pictures below to enlarge:

Nagasaki Buddhist Stone Carvings Even fat ugly ones are cute

Nagasaki Buddhist Stone Carvings Many shapes and sizes

Nagasaki Buddhist Stone Carvings Too many to count!

Nagasaki Buddhist Stone Carvings Fine detail

Nagasaki Buddhist Stone Carvings 500 in all

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Shofukuji Temple Nagasaki

Shofukuji Temple Nagasaki has the distinction of being the first Zen temple constructed in Nagasaki.  It was established in 1677 by Tesshin from the Obaku sect of Zen Buddhism.  It is surrounded by tree cover and resides in a quiet and dignified location within Nagasaki City.  It is accessible on foot and is located within the cities CBD so makes it an great location to do a walking tour with other attractions nearby.  Although the temple buildings cannot be entered, visitors can walk through Shofukuji's attractive temple grounds and observe the buildings from outside.

Before Zen's introduction to Japan, Buddhism had already had a long history in Japan dating back to the 5th century. The new teachings of Zen, promoted meditation and discipline as the means to enlightenment and became very popular with the samurai class, which was exerting political power through the shogunate government based in Kamakura.

Today the temple still stands, survived the Atomic explosion relatively undamaged and has a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere about it.  There are a lot of steps to negate but this is one of the thrills of walking around the location to look and investigate each and every building on display.  The building have a lot of intricate details that can only be observed up close and personal so i recommend visitors come and take their time walking around the area.

Well worth a visit and a leisurely stroll around the outer grounds.

Come and check out Shofukuji Temple Nagasaki on a map!

Click on the pictures below to enlarge:

Shofukuji Temple Nagasaki A secondary Building

Shofukuji Temple Nagasaki
A National Monument

Shofukuji Temple Nagasaki
Lots of stairs

Shofukuji Temple Nagasaki
The main gates

Shofukuji Temple
Interesting retainer wall




Please click on the videos below to see Shofukuji Temple Nagasaki in its real environment:





Friday, September 16, 2011

Isahaya Spectacle Bridge Nagasaki

Isahaya Spectacle Bridge Nagasaki is a double arch stone bridge spanning a pond in Isahaya Park, which is one of the main sightseeing places of the area. The bridge is twice the size of the famous Spectacles Bridge in Nagasaki city and has many temples and shrines as well as walking trails that you could easily spend 1 or 2 hours here soaking up the ambiance.

The bridge was originally built over the Honmyo River in 1839.  However, after the flood of 1957, it was relocated to the park.  Every year on the anniversary of the flood, the city of Isahaya has a festival at the original location of the bridge.  It was designated as an Important Cultural Asset in 1958.

Comparing the 2 famous bridges, it is evident that the Isahaya bridge dwarfs its Nagasaki City cousin.  The shape, the construction and the architecture is just amazing.  Worth a tour, a nice leisurely walk around the park to enjoy its beauty!  I like to visit this location first in my full day tours as it is a beautiful location and sets the tone for what a great day we have in store for us to come.  Everyone agrees that places such as the Isahaya Spectacle Bridge Nagasaki are very rare these days and just to see and observe the unique views and construction quality are worth every penny, in my opinion.

Check out Isahaya Spectacles Bridge Nagasaki on the map!

Please click on the pictures below of the Isahaya Spectacles Bridge Nagasaki to enlarge:

Wide shot

Cheer squad



Group shot

Amazing shape and style



Reflections

From the top of the bridge





Have a look at the video of Isahaya Spectacle Bridge Nagasaki below:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Tsubami Geopark Nagasaki

Tsubami Geopark Nagasaki is a very interesting place to visit and anyone interested in history, nature and anthropology would sell their family car to check out what there is to offer from a scientific perspective.  Other normal people like you and me wouldn't mind just to use this site as a quick drop off to take a toilet break or to stretch your legs, get some fresh air and generally just have a look at what the place has to offer.  Yours truly did just that, all of the above actually and enjoyed himself whilst doing it as well!

Tsubami Geopark Nagasaki is situated in the middle part of the Kuchinotsu group stratum which developed about 1.5 million years ago and is distributed over the Tsubami shore.  Kyushu at that time was part of a continent and the animals of a continental system.  These animals such as elephants and deer lived around the Shimabara peninsula.  Their remains were found on the shore of a cove and lake within this stratum. These are called the Tsubami vertebrate fossil group and can be observed along the west side of the Peninisular between Kazusa and Minamikushiyama.

It's a great place to roam about and get a feel of the area and what the place used to look like and be like all those many years ago when the animals roamed free and the planet in its most natural state.  Check it out if you have a chance as said previously, some people would sell the family car to come here.

Check out the Tsubami Geopark Nagasaki on a map!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

Tsubami Geopark Nagasaki Rock walls full of fossil deposits

Tsubami Geopark Nagasaki
Remnants of the fossils found at the shoreline

Tsubami Geopark Nagasaki
Swirling waters where the Tachibana Bay meets the Ariake Sea

Tsubami Geopark Nagasaki
Fauna fossil assemblage




Check out the videos of Tsubami Geopark Nagasaki below: