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a major peasant uprising in 1637–38 in Japan, on the Shimabara Peninsula (near Nagasaki) and nearby Amakusa Island.
The Shimabara Rebellion broke out in response to growing feudal oppression. Often called the “rebellion of Japanese Christians,” it had religious overtones, as did many peasant movements in the Middle Ages. However, it was distinct in one ideological sense: it was connected not with Buddhist sectarian doctrines, as had often been the case previously, but with Christianity, which had been brought to Japan in the 16th and 17th centuries by European missionaries and which was persecuted by the government.
An army of 100,000, raised by the government and local feudal lords, was sent to suppress the rebellion. The rebels took refuge in Hara castle, where approximately 38,000 of them held out for several months, notwithstanding bombardment by the ships of Dutch and Chinese merchants. After storming the castle the government army massacred the rebels, leaving only about 100 alive.