Shimabara (島原) is a small castle town, from which tourists can take a ferry to Kumamoto. It has a few attractions to visit while you wait or relax before the very, most famous of which is one of the best castles in Kyushu.

Budget travel tips

  • Book early, as budget options are sometimes limited.
  • Not easy to navigate, so print off the Google Map below or pick up a map in the train station. Location info not included below as a map is really necessary!
  • Just spending the morning or afternoon is enough in this small town.

Place of interest

Shimabara Castle

While this is a reconstruction, it’s a pretty good one. The inside is also full of interesting artifacts and pictures that illustrate the town long history, including surprisingly gruesome Christian persecution.

Open: 9:00 to 17:30 (closed December 29 to 30)

Price: 520 yen


A traditional street with a few old style samurai buildings that are free to enter and walk around. They give a little glimpse into what life would have been like in Japan many years ago.

City of swimming carp

There seem to be more carp than people in this town! Take a relaxing stroll around these streets. A short walk south from the castle.

Yusui Garden (FREE)

A lovely garden with traditional Japanese terrace overlooking a stunning large pond full of carp.

How to get there

From Nagasaki, take the Nagasaki line train to Isahaya station, then the Shimabara Railway to Shimabara station (100 minutes, 1890 yen).

From Unzen Onsen, take a bus from the bus terminal in town.

From Kumamoto, take the Kumamoto Ferry. This arrives and departs from near Shimabara-Gaiko train station.


Recommended hostels and cheap hotels

Most people just have a look around before taking the ferry, so options are limited.

Shimabara Station Hotel 

Reasonable hotel only a minute away from the castle, with spa, restuarant and other facilities.

More at

Published by Matthew Baxter

Japan travel writer and onsen addict