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Shimabara Peninsula.

Travel south and east along the coast from Nagasaki and you will eventually hit the scenic Shimabara Hanto or ’peninsula’.

The peninsula owes its existence to the past volcanic fury of Unzen-dake which still appears quite active to this day - clouds of sulphurous steam and occasional subterrainean rumblings being testament to this.

The town of Unzen, a small onsen resort surrounded by pine trees and clouds of steam, draws holidaymakers to its hot springs,  jigoku and scenic hiking trails. One of the most popular outings is to the lava dome of Fugen-dake, which roared back into life in 1990 after two centuries of inactivity, and now smoulders menacingly above the town of Shimabara

Shimabara City faces Shimabara Bay on the east coast of the  peninsula. It prospered as the town around Shimabara-jo, built in the 17th century, and old temples and the sites of lower-class samurai houses used until the 19th century, still remain today. Missionaries were active in Shimabara in the early 17th century, and many locals became Christians. However, the administrator of that time banned Christianity and Shimabara was known for its harsh oppression of Christians

Both towns can be covered on a long day’s journey between Nagasaki and Kumamoto, but if time allows Unzen makes a relaxing overnight stop.

 

 
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