Goryokaku Fortress Hakodate
View of Goryokaku from the viewing tower, Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan
The Goryokaku Fortress in Hakodate, Hokkaido was Japan's first western fortification, designed by Takeda Ayasaburo (1827-1880), and based on the work of the French military engineer, Vauban (1633-1707), who he had read in translation from Dutch. Goryokaku bears a resemblance to the much later Pentagon, the HQ of the US military, in Washington, DC.
The Goryokaku was the scene of the relatively bloodless last stand of the Tokugawa shogunate and remnants of its Shinsengumi special forces during the short-lived Boshin War of 1869, which saw the victory of anti-Tokugawa, pro-Imperial forces and the establishment of a new, reforming Meiji government.
Hakodate Bugyosho, Goryokaku, Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan
History of Goryokaku
The Goryokaku was constructed along with the nearby Benten Daiba under the supervision of Takeda Ayasaburo, a Rangaku (Dutch learning) scholar and architect, in 1855. The purpose of the two fortifications was to protect the island of Ezo (present-day Hokkaido) and the Tsugaru Strait from encroachment by the encircling western powers, in particular, Russia.
The Goryokaku grounds were turned into a public park in 1914 and are a well-known place now for cherry-blossom viewing (hanami) in May, as hundreds of cherry trees were planted along Goryokaku's surrounding moats.
Goryokaku Tower & Park, Hakodate, Hokkaido
Goryokaku, Hakodate, Hokkaido
The grounds of Goryokaku also contain the the Former Magistrate's Office (Hakodate Bugyosho), from where the Tokugawa regime administered the area of Hokkaido they then controlled. The building was demolished in the 1870s, along with much of the military and administrative heritage of the Edo Period, but has been carefully restored and re-opened in 2010.
The Goryokaku Tower is a 107 meter-tall viewing tower (admission 900 yen), complete with a section of glass floor, built in 1964 and offering wonderful views of the fortress and surrounding area of Mt. Hakodate and the Tsugaru Strait below. The ground floor contains exhibits of the history of the fort.
The Hokkaido Hakodate Museum of Art, in Japanese, the Hakodate Bijutsukan, (Tel: 0138 56 6311; admission 170 yen) is also located just outside the grounds.
The ground floor of Goryokaku Tower, Hakodate, Hokkaido
Old cannon on the ground floor of Goryokaku Tower, Hakodate, Hokkaido
Goryokaku is about 3.5 km north of Hakodate Station. Buses from Hakodate Station to Goryokaku Koen-iriguchi cost 200 yen or take a street car (220 yen) to Goryokaku Koen-mae and walk about 10-15 minutes. The Hakodate Rich Hotel Goryokaku is close by to the fortress. Hotel Nets Hakodate Hokkaido and Hotel Hokke Club Hakodate are close to the Goryokaku Koen-mae tram and bus stop.
Hokkaido Prefecture 040-0001
Tel: 0138 21 3456
Goryokaku Fortress: read a guide to the star-shaped Goryokaku Fortress in Hakodate, Hokkaido, Japan's first western-style castle.