Goryokaku Fort in Hakodate
I arrived in Hakodate on the night of the 5th. The next day was rainy, so I decided to take a long bus ride and visit Matsumae Castle.
Back in Hakodate at night I enjoyed the great night view from Mt. Hakodate (which I’ll write about in a future post).
A day later the weather was a little bit better and I decided to visit Goryokaku Fort.
Goryokaku Tower is the first thing you’ll see when approaching the fort.
The Goryokaku Tower was originally opened on December 1st, 1964. However the new tower was opened on April 1st, 2006.
Fort Goryokaku in Hakodate
With a height of approximately 100m you get a nice view of the star-shaped fort (Goryokaku Fort, 五稜郭 = five-sided fortification).
It is a very popular cherry blossom viewing spot. I’m sure you can tell why by looking at the photos!
The construction of Goryokaku Fort dates back to 1853 when a US fleet arrived at a Japanese port. This historically significant event is referred to as the “arrival of the black ships“.
Succumbing to the US’s demands that Japan should open its doors to the rest of the world, the Tokugawa shogunate (徳川幕府) concluded the Treaty of Peace and Amity between the United States of America and Japan in 1854 and thus opened Hakodate Port for international trade.
Aiming to maintain governance over Hakodate, the Tokugawa shogunate instituted the Hakodate Magistrate’s Office which promoted land reclamation and industrial development while fortifying the defensive capabilities of the area.
When the Magistrate’s Office building was later moved, Ayasaburo Takeda (1827-1880), a researcher of Dutch studies, was ordered to design a new fort.
He built it modeled after European citadel towns. One reason was to be able to defend enemies more efficiently than with usual Japanese castles.
The star shape allowed a greater number of gun emplacements and also reduced the number of blind spots.
Inside of Goryokaku Tower you can see the fort’s history told by miniature figures.
Ayasaburo Takeda with the construction plans of the star-shaped fort.
Discontent with the Tokugawa shogunate led to the Boshin War (戊辰戦争). Goryokaku is famous for being the site of the last battle of this war.
Eventually Goryokaku Fort was placed under siege by the new government forces. The turbulent period that marked the end of the Tokugawa shogunate and the start of the Meiji Restoration thus came to a close.
In 1914 Goryokaku Fort opened to the public as a park. In 1952, it was designated as a special historic site by the national government.
Star-shaped forts can be found everywhere in the world, but mainly in Europe.
Now that I know about them I hope to visit some once I’m back in Europe! ^_^
Got to love those thingies where young and old can pose for photos! Adorable!
Apart from a good view of the fort, the tower also provided a great view of Hakodate in general. Thanks to its location which is close to the port, the ocean was also nearby.
And some mountains in the background even had snow on the top!
I left the tower to walk around in the huge Goryokaku Fort Park which had cherry blossom trees all along the moat!
You could even take a boat tour!
As you can see the weather got worse – yet again. I really wasn’t very lucky during that vacation.
The tower can be seen from almost every corner of the park.
They hung up the carp flags for Children’s Day.
I love when I can take photos of cherry blossom trees with blue mountains in the background that have some snow on the top. My favorite one is of course Mt. Fuji! *g*
A bird thinking its king of the world?! *g*
Some people were having a picnic (hanami: flower viewing) despite the bad weather.
This is the Hakodate Bugyosho (函館奉行所): Hakodate Magistrate’s Office
As mentioned earlier Hakodate’s Magistrate’s Office was established in Hakodate by the Edo Shogunate when the port of Hakodate opened under the Japan-US Treaty of Peace and Amity. The office was initially built at the foot of Mt. Hakodate.
That’s the original one.
The repair project of Goryokaku was launched by the city of Hakodate with the recreation of Hakodate Magistrate’s Office as its main goal. The archaeological investigation of Goryokaku was started in 1985. The building plan was carefully detailed on the basis of old photographs, documents and drawings as well as the results of the excavation.
The reconstruction of Hakodate Magistrate’s Office took 4 years (2006-2010).
Inside there was a lot of information about the layout of the original office.
The inside looked relatively new, but still had many interesting things to explore.
Here’s a good map that shows where other star-shaped forts can be found. Need to visit the one in Germany once I’m back home!
And there’s also another one in Japan!
Have you ever been there?
The office on the left and the tower on the right.
For the tourists: You could dress up as warrior and have your photo taken.
Here’s another good layout of the whole fort. Quite an awesome design!
It started raining cats and dogs and I decided to leave, but as you can see there were some hardcore Japanese people who tried to enjoy the day despite the weather!
I left the park to eat lunch and then went back to Central Hakodate to explore the area there a bit more.
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Events in Jan/Feb 2017:
- Jan 15: Matobakai (Kumamoto)
- Jan 15: Toh-shiya (Kyoto)
- Jan 17: Bonden-sai (Akita)
- Jan 28: Yamayaki (Nara)
- Feb 3: Setsubun (nationwide)
- Feb 3-12: Otaru Yuki Akari no Michi
- Feb 6-12: Sapporo Snow Festival
- Feb 7-12: Asahikawa Winter Festival
- Feb 15-16: Yokote Kamakura Festival
- Feb 17-19: Tokamachi Snow Festival
- Feb 18: Naked Festival at Saidai-ji (Okayama)