Shimabara: Samurai, Castles & Carp

Day 29: Wednesday, November 7, 2012
We docked in Nagasaki today and I woke up before the sunrise! After so much humidity, the cool air felt good, and for a moment, I thought we were in Sausalito with the cute houses on the hill welcoming us. At the crack of dawn, we took a tour bus to Shimabara to visit a samurai village, complete with open floor plan tatami houses, koi gardens, and a waterway down the middle of the road. Our tour guide said the water was drinkable if we dared.

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Next, we visited the Shimabara Castle turned museum, which now houses a vast collection of artifacts and history detailing the area’s Catholic past. The top floor granted us a bird’s eye view of the town and cosplay ensued at the entrance.

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As if graphic paintings of religious persecution weren’t sobering enough, we visited the Mt. Uzen Disaster Memorial next where homes were completely covered with debris from a volcanic eruption back in 1991. On a lighter note, we bought sponge cake and mochi from the local grocer!

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Afterward, we went to a local boutique hotel for a nice kaiseki-style lunch then wandered around the garden with rabbits and baby goats running around — cute!

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On the drive back to Nagasaki, the sky looked surreal and news broke out that Obama had won the election. (I debated whether or not I should sell all of my stocks — I didn’t.)

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Back at the port, a school band welcomed us since the Diamond Princess was built at the local Mitsubishi cradle!