Nov
19
2012

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.

smilie Visited: May 7th 2012 smilie

Goryokaku Tower Hakodate Goryokaku Tower Hakodate

Goryokaku Tower is the first thing you’ll see when approaching the fort.

Access is provided by bus and by streetcar. If you come by car please note that Goryokaku Tower itself doesn’t have a parking lot, you’ll have to use the nearby parking lots.

The Goryokaku Tower was originally opened on December 1st, 1964. However the new tower was opened on April 1st, 2006.

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

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).

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

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.

Hakodate Magistrate's Office

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.

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

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.

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

Inside of Goryokaku Tower you can see the fort’s history told by miniature figures.

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

Ayasaburo Takeda with the construction plans of the star-shaped fort.

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

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.

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

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.

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

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.

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

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! ^_^

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

Got to love those thingies where young and old can pose for photos! Adorable!

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

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.

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

And some mountains in the background even had snow on the top!

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

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!

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

As you can see the weather got worse – yet again. I really wasn’t very lucky during that vacation.

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

The tower can be seen from almost every corner of the park.

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

They hung up the carp flags for Children’s Day.

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

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*

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

A bird thinking its king of the world?! *g*

 

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

Some people were having a picnic (hanami: flower viewing) despite the bad weather.

Hakodate Magistrate's Office

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.

Hakodate Magistrate's Office

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).

Hakodate Magistrate's Office

Inside there was a lot of information about the layout of the original office.

Hakodate Magistrate's Office Hakodate Magistrate's Office

The inside looked relatively new, but still had many interesting things to explore.

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

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!

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

And there’s also another one in Japan!

Have you ever been there?

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

The office on the left and the tower on the right.

Hakodate Magistrate's Office

For the tourists: You could dress up as warrior and have your photo taken.

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

Here’s another good layout of the whole fort. Quite an awesome design!

Goryokaku Fort Hakodate

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! smilie

I left the park to eat lunch and then went back to Central Hakodate to explore the area there a bit more.

More posts about Hakodate are coming up soon featuring Mt. Hakodate, the Morning Market, the churches and much more!
Stay tuned! smilie

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