Top things to do

Top Choice Historic Site in Shimabara

Samurai Houses

In the Teppō-machi area, northwest of the castle, are buke yashiki (samurai houses) set along a pretty, 450m-long gravel road with a stream down the middle. Most of the houses are currently inhabited, but several ar…
Top Choice Castle in Shimabara


This hilltop castle was ruled mostly by the Matsudaira clan from the 1660s, played a part in the Shimabara Rebellion, and was rebuilt in 1964. As well as lotus ponds, tangled gardens, almost 4km of mossy walls, and …
Top Choice Cafe in Shimabara


This busy blade and sharpening store is filled with incredible knives, hatchets, swords, and even ninja shuriken (throwing stars), but it is also a lovely cafe, offering good Japanese curry, sōmen, dango and shave i…
Museum in Shimabara

Gamadas Dome Mt Unzen Disaster Memorial Hall

About 4km south of the town centre, this excellent high-tech museum is larger than many a good-sized city's city hall. It focuses on the 1991 eruption and vulcanology in general, and is plonked eerily at the base of…
Teahouse in Shimabara

Shimabara Mizuyashiki

Off Shimabara's central arcade, this delightful, Meiji-era teahouse features a lovely garden, a spring-fed pond and an obsessive collection of maneki-neko (lucky cat) figurines from all over Japan, some for sale. Th…
Statue in Shimabara


In the cemetery of Kōtō-ji Buddhist temple (江東寺) is this tranquil Nirvana statue, dating from 1957. At 8.6m, it's the longest reclining Buddha in Japan.
Teahouse in Shimabara


For a quick break, this city-owned former villa sits on stilts over a spring-fed pond. No charge for entry or a cup of tea.
Japanese in Shimabara


This venerable restaurant across from the castle serves Shimabara's best-known dish, guzōni, a clear broth with mochi (pounded rice dumplings), seafood and vegetables. There's more standard Japanese fare, too, and U…
Museum in Shimabara

Seibō Kinenkan

Seibō Kinenkan is dedicated to the work of native son Kitamura Seibō, sculptor of the Nagasaki Peace Statue.
Cultural in Shimabara

Shimabara Water Festival

Held the first Saturday in August to honour the delicious spring water that's so plentiful in this town.