Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Hara Castle Ruins Nagasaki

Hara Castle Ruins Nagasaki that stands today is just a small reminder of the Shimabara Rebellion.   It was an uprising on the Shimabara Peninsular in Nagasaki from 1637–1638 during the Edo Period.  It largely involved peasants, most of them being Catholic Christians.

It was one of only a handful of instances of serious unrest during the relatively peaceful period of the Tokugawa Shogunate's rule.  The construction of a new Castle in Shimabara, caused taxes to be drastically raised, which provoked anger from local peasants and the lord less samurai of the time.  Religious persecution against the local Christians exacerbated the discontent, which turned into open revolt in 1637.  The Tokugawa Shogunate sent a force of over 125 000 troops to suppress the rebellion, and after a lengthy siege against the 37 000 rebels at Hara Castle, defeated them.

In the wake of the rebellion, the rebel leader Amakusa Shiro was beheaded and persecution of Christianity became strictly enforced. Japan's national exclusion policy was tightened and formal persecution of Christianity continued until the 1850's.

With all this knowledge and still many visual clues available today, it is quite surreal and at times a somber feeling to stroll around the ruins of the Castle and try and visualize all that anger and hatred of opposition forces coming together in death and bloodshed and in many ways a massacre of ordinary people rebellion against injustice.  The site is widely visited by many people today and is a reminder of how Christianity flourished in Japan all those years ago.

A compulsory visit by anyone interested in Christian History in Japan or any History Buff.

Come and checkout the Hara Castle Ruins Nagasaki on a map:

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

The outer walls still remain

Christian Symbols

Fight over Christianity

Amakusa Shiro, the Rebellions leader

The remains of the grounds

The site of the Christian Rebellion

Here is a video of the Hara Castle Ruins Nagasaki can you can check out:

Monday, September 24, 2012

Nagasaki Confucius Shrine

Nagasaki Confucius Shrine is said to be the world's only Confucius Shrine built by Chinese people outside of China.  Even today the land on which it stands is Chinese Territory and the land rights controlled by the Chinese Embassy in Tokyo.

First built in 1893 by Chinese residents of Nagasaki with the support of the Qing Dynasty Government, Nagasaki Confucius Shrine was designed to serve as a place of worship and learning for the Chinese community and housed a Confucian sanctuary and primary school.  The buildings were severely damaged by the atomic bomb explosion on August 9, 1945 and was not restored.  It was finally opened to the public in September 1967 and  was extensively renovated in 1982 and remains the same till the present day.

It is a joy and exciting process to walk around the beautifully presented gardens and to graze intensely at the architecture and statues.  The attention to detail is amazing and one can see that a lot of time and effort was put in to the design and final outcome to look as authentic as possible.  One feels like they have stepped out of Japan and back into the realm of China such is the contrast to traditional Japanese buildings and in particular to Japanese Shinto Shrines.

Well worth a visit even if you are not a fan of Chinese History and artifacts.  The Nagasaki Confucius Shrine is located very close to the International Port Terminal so it isn't too far to complete as a walking tour around the area, even if you only have an hour or two to spare it is well worth the effort .

Check out Nagasaki Confucius Shrine on a map here!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

Koi Ponds


Add caption

Chinese Statues

Open Courtyard

Main coridoor


Attractive artwork

Confucius Pray Altar

Colorful ceilings
The entrance

Unique Design

Please check out the videos of the Nagasaki Confucius Shrine here:

Friday, September 21, 2012

Nagasaki Sunsets

With Nagasaki being blessed with natural beauty and surrounded nearly completely with coastline it is not often that a spectacular sunset cannot be seen on a regular occasion.  Luckily on one of my scenic drives I had my camera at the ready to shoot these amazing sunsets.   Hard to resist having a second look!

Please click on the images below to enlarge:

The contrasts are amazing!!

Very pretty hues

Monday, September 17, 2012

Kanahama Fault Nagasaki Geopark

Kanahama Fault Nagasaki Geopark is not the main fault on the Shimabara Peninsular, situated on the south east coast of Nagasaki Prefecture.  There are many faults located on the Peninsular, the main fault is the Chijiwa fault which subsides in the north whilst the Kanahama Fault subsided in the south and the trench  between the two faults is called the Unzen Trough Fault.  The Kanahama Fault Nagasaki Geopark with its throw of 150~200m shows the sedimentary layers from the old Unzen Volcano from approx 300,000 to  500,000 years ago.

Looking up the valley from the seaside you can see the deposits from the old Unzen Volcano on the right (south side) and the deposits from a midterm volcano  (approx. 150,000 to 300,000 years ago) on the left (north side). As the Unzen Trough Fault kept subsiding through volcanic eruptions, the deposits from the midterm volcano could not reach beyond the south of the Kanahama Fault.

It's amazing to see the effects of events that happened hundreds of thousands of years ago and how they still exist and create a huge impact today.  I used to enjoy the scenery and drive endlessly around the Peninsular but today with the knowledge I have obtained with the Geopark materials that are available I am able to enjoy in more detail the amazing places that are still within a stones throw away.  Please let me know if you would like more information on Nagasaki Geopark in English and I can help you obtain them.

Check out the Kanahama Fault Nagasaki Geopark on a map!

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

With the famous Kanahama Spectacle bridge in the foreground
The fault viewed from the sea
The fault viewed from halfway up the mountain looking towards the sea

Here is a video of the Kanahama Fault Nagasaki Geopark:

Friday, September 14, 2012

Shimabara Carp Street Nagasaki

Shimabara Carp Street Nagasaki is a direct result of there being fresh springs all over the city and unlimited fresh water supply available at all times.   Many of the springs are the result of a series of eruptions from Mount Fugen, most notably the largest eruption in 1792 which dramatically changed the landscape and flow of these fresh water springs.   Today, approximately 1,500 carp swim in the beautiful and well laid out natural spring channels which add elegance and mystic to the city.

Colourful Carp

Crystal Clear Springwater

Swimming Carp

One of the channels

Great place to take photos

Carp under the glass floor

Great to see the carp swimming freely.
The first time I walked the streets of Shimabara, I nearly fell into one of the canals.  Mostly out of surprise and shock of accidentally finding such a amazing place.  The carp looked so fresh and the water is so clear that one just feels like jumping in and swimming with the fish, although this is more of a fantasy rather than a reality.

Today the carp streams are kept for sightseeing and aesthetic reasons as well as the fact that they look so cool!  However in the past and particularly during times of war and famine they were kept as an alternative food source.  Although it can be said that Carp are not a particularly good eating fish, I guess when one is hungry one should not be too picky about their food source.  Luckily for the carp, nowadays the channels are used only for sightseeing and asthetic purposes, so the fish should grow up big and strong and hopefully colorful to satisfy the hoards of tourists that come to see them.

Check out the Shimabara Carp Street Nagasaki on a map!

Here is a video of the Shimabara Carp Street Nagasaki for your pursual:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Nagasaki Peace Park Statues

Of course when one thinks about the Nagasaki Peace Park Statues, the main one that comes to mind is the sculpture by Seibo Kitamura of the human being with one hand pointing to the sky whilst sitting cross legged and eyes closed shut.  Nagasaki Peace Park is synonymous with this awe inspiring statue.

Indeed this is a powerful and internationally known symbol associated with the Nagasaki Atomic Explosion but one of my favourite things to do is to walk peacefully through the Peace Park and look at the tens of sculptors and statues that have been donated by Organizations and Countries from around the world as a symbol of hope and peace for the future.

They are all special in their own way and of course one's imagination and feelings of sorrow come through with each viewing yet at the same time they give hope for the future.  In this way they cause the statues to come alive and speak to us in a private way because everyone needs hope and want to leave the earth in a better way for the future generations.

If you ever have a chance to visit Nagasaki for yourself I implore you to do the same and come to the Nagasaki Peace Park Statues.  It will be a surreal if not highly moving experience and one that you will never forget, especially the viewing of the Mother and Child Statue which really hits you at your core of compassion and empathy.  It is this symbol of sorry and regret that must be remembered so that the weak and innocent are protected no matter what and in all situations of conflict around the world.

Come and check out the Nagasaki Peace Park Statues on a map:

Click on the pictures below to enlarge:

Strength in Numbers

Whisked away by angels

A popular but haunting photo

Mother and child

Water is a big part of the exhibition

The date and time of that horrific day