fbpx Skip to main content

Nagasaki’s Samurai Village

Shimabara town is overlooked by the sloping Mt. Inou. Row upon row of houses have retreated to its mountainside since times of class distinction.  Significantly lower yes righteously disposed is the towering Shimabara castle.  A short stroll to the samurai residence, the bukeyashiki of Shimabara, shows that those lower than the daimyo lord once lived higher than him.

Finding the Samurai Street Entrance

The samurai street’s entryway is hidden behind a hedge.  To walk the lane, one first crosses the reception area.  A koi pond with fish in their slow turn-pause slows the sudden visitor. You can buy a snack at small souvenir shop, or move to the samurai street free-of-charge.


There is a Japanese traditional garden reminding us of samurai's era

History of Shimabara’s Samurai Village

This samurai district was built in 1600s, during the feudal era of Japan and concurrent to the castle’s founding. Noted for a stream running down the center of its lane, I expected it must recall medieval Europe’s refuse ridden streets. Rather than a dirty sluice ditch, I was treated to spring waters flowing clean. Lilliputian ferns prickled out from between the outline of volcanic rock to each side. The stream bed delineated the diverted spring flow.


Samurai house street in Shimabara


Though originally the houses were separated by no more than shogi walls, the local lord decreed that walls be built to ensure privacy. These too are stacked ashlars built of local volcanic rock. The walls continue to ensure privacy for those who currently reside on the samurai street. Three plots of land are open for visitation, exhibiting the life of the times.

Shinozuka Samurai House

The first house, Shinozuka house, is entered to the plot’s rear. Trees limn the wall in back, a natural barrier. Fruit grows fresh in this neighborhood as encouraged by the local lords, and though I saw none tipping the branches, I imagined a plump drooping in Kyushu’s impressive rains. No fructiferous dress, they weightlessly pointed up to another local sight: topping the building was a thick thatch roof. Affixed to the back was an old ofuro (Japanese bath) room, a shed huddled under the eaves. This was the only room of the three houses where entry is prohibited. In samurai hospitality, other rooms are open invitation. It’s a little mystifying to look in on a shogi maze to mannequins modeled after long ago residents.


Samurai house roof's structure looks quite old enough as if it brought us back to the era

Interior of samurai house attracts our curiosity toward japanese life

tatami room in samurai house, bukeyashiki

Torita Samurai House

Each house, whether samurai exhibit or current inhabitation, is hidden behind bush and stone barrier with non-distinctive entryways. We missed another pristine white-walled one, in exchange for the homey hearth of another. This second samurai house, Torita house, opened clearly to a dirt plaza. Ground not manicured green, the wood seemed heartier and accommodation more akin to a lodge. Conversation even accompanied us, as fellow friendly visitors exchanged words. Though wayfarers of samurai times would be most comfortable stopping here, it was indeed a private residence. An old style ofuro, reminiscent of a large cooking pot, rested in a sleepy dark niche of the house.


a Presentation of Edo era reminds us the authentic Japanese old life

Yamamoto Samurai House

The last samurai house, Yamamoto house, seemed most secretive of all – on the corner of the samurai street though it was. Slightly stilted, it had an engawa (old style veranda) as broad as the close-cropped flower bushes could allow. If not caught in the floral cordon, it would afford a view of Shimabara castle on its proud plot. Samurai of dignified class sat at the (low table) once more, dining past their dusk.


here is yamamoto house in shimabara


As early evening fell, we came out to rest at the kiosk area. Children from the nearby school filtered through, passing by the samurai houses. Some had been shooting volleyballs, hitting friends with the mark of Teppo-cho’s feudal gunmen.


Shimabara Bukeyashiki Samurai District Access:

From JR Nagasaki station, take the JR Nagasaki line to Isahaya station.  This takes 15 minutes and 1000 yen by limited express, or alternatively 460 yen and 30 minutes by local train.

Change railways at Isahaya station to the the Shimabara railway, and disembark at Shimabara Station. This takes 70 minutes and 1430 Yen.

From JR Shimabara station, walk west 10 minutes.


Name Shimabara Bukeyashiki Teppo-cho
Category Samurai houses
Address Shitanocho, Shimabara 855-0052, Nagasaki Prefecture
Access [map]Shitanocho, Shimabara 855-0052, Nagasaki Prefecture[/map]
Opening Hours 9:00 - 17:00
Price Range Free
Payment options


Ethan Cookman

Ethan Cookman

I've had a lot of time to think about my biography. About 25 years. I've also done things like study at university - Hofstra University and Kwansei Gakuin University. When I was a teacher at a children's school in Okayama (Japan), I didn't have so much time to think about my biography. So now I'm in Tokyo, writing my biography. I've been living in Japan for a year and a half, and enjoy puns, music, and sights (both insight and outside).

Leave a Reply