Rice, Holly

The Shimabara Rebellion was a rebellion that happened in southwestern Japan during the early seventeenth century. The people of the Shimabara Peninsula and the Amakusa Islands banded together in order to overthrow their current rulers. The Shimabara people were upset with Matsukura Shigemasa, the lord of Shimabara, who had placed a heavy tax on his people in order to build a new castle for himself. Shigemasa also further provoked the Shimabara people by persecuting those of Christian faith, which many of the Shimabara citizens believed in and practiced. The Amakusa Islands were victims of much of the same injustices and together the two areas of Japan worked together in order to start a rebellion. The rebellion lasted from December 17, 1637 to April 15, 1638, but was crushed by the shogunate. It was followed by a large execution or rebels and sympathizers, a tightening on the band of Christianity, as well as kicking out the majority of Japan’s foreign traders.

Due to the beheading of approximately 37,000 people involved with the rebellion, a demographic social change occurred across the Shimabara peninsula. Due to the large number of people put to death, there was a significant loss in the population. This loss lead to there not being enough people to sustain the crops within the land. Therefore, immigrants had to immigrate from other areas of japan to take the places of the people Shimabara had lost. The increased suspicion of European Catholics was also an ideological and cultural social change that took place as a consequence of the Shimabara Rebellion. Because so many of the rebels involved in the rebellion were suspected of being Catholic Christians, there was a tightening on the original ban of Christianity in Japan. Now those who wished to continue practicing their faith had to go into hiding. This changed the Christian culture in Japan. No longer could they show their beliefs in public, but instead met in secret. They had to adapt Christian beliefs with buddhist style prayers and tradition in order to mask what they were truly worshiping. It also changed the overall ideology of how Christians and Europeans were viewed. Because of its European origins, Christianity was looked upon by Japanese rulers as a means for Europe to conquer Japan. These suspicions about the religion were only further emphasized by the rebellion, and therefore not only did Japan strengthened their ban on Christianity, but they also forced out almost all European traders and entered a period of seclusion from almost all of Europe until 1853. This limiting of trade enforced a new social structure where Japan would have to trade more closely with countries outside of Europe, such as China and Korea, and rely on their own resources.

image source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/87/BeheadedJizo.jpg/250px-BeheadedJizo.jpg