Attractions

Goryokaku Park

Goryokaku Park

Travel Guide

Introduction

Goryokaku Park is a park converted from Goryokaku Castle.

Goryokaku Castle (Pentagram Fort) is a star-shaped western-style fortress that was built in the late 19th century by the Tokugawa Shogun government. This star-shaped fortress was where the final battle of the last civil war “Boshin War” in Japan was fought. Most of the buildings were destroyed in the war. But some storehouses were preserved, and the main administrative office was rebuilt in 2010. The fortress was converted into a park, and about 1,600 cherry trees were planted in and around the park.

After the war virtually the whole fortress lay in ruins and in 1872 the public offices were also demolished, with only the storehouse and the well remaining on the inside. The embankments, foundation stones, and moat are in a good state of preservation.

In 1913 the site was opened as Goryokaku Park, and is now famous for its flowering cherry trees. The moat of Goryokaku is surrounded by some 1,600 cherry trees, making the Goryokaku one of Hokkaido's top cherry blossom viewing spots in springtime. Cherry blossoms aren't the only feature of this park, there are many beautiful flowering plants alongside interesting historic artifacts located throughout the park. Also, in summer the moat is fringed with lush greenery, which turns into a blazing scene of crimson foliage in the fall that is then blanketed with snow in the winter, creating an extremely beautiful vista for all seasons.

In the center of the star-shaped fort that dominates Goryokaku Park stands the Hakodate Magistrate's Office, a restored building that was once used as a government office run by samurai. While visitors are free to contemplate its statuesque dignity from the outside, it is also possible to go inside and explore the rooms. Don't miss the opportunity to see the craftsmanship showcased in the exquisite Japanese-style architecture of this building, in addition to the wonderful wood-fragranced entrance and expansive tatami rooms.

It has been declared a Special Historical Site and is home to the Hakodate city museum. At the entrance to the park there is the Goryokaku Tower which is a 107m-tall viewing tower. The tower was built in 1964 and offers wonderful views of the fortress and surrounding area of Mt. Hakodate and the Tsugaru Strait below.

History

Goryokaku was built in 1864 to house government offices for the administration in Hakodate, to deal with commerce and foreign affairs related to the port of Hakodate that opened to international trade in 1859 and to protect the Tsugaru Strait against a possible invasion by the Russian fleet.

Designed by Takeda Hisaburō (1827-1880), a Japanese scientist, Goryokaku was the largest and first Western (specifically, French military engineer, Vauban (1633-1707)) style fortress in Japan. His plan was based on the work of the French architect Vauban. It is shaped like a five-pointed star. This style was popular in Europe at the time for it's ability to withstand damage from modern weapons. This allowed for greater numbers of gun emplacements on its walls than a traditional Japanese fortress, and reduced the number of blind spots where a cannon could not fire.

Goryokaku is famous as the site of the final battle of the last civil war “Boshin War” (Goryokaku no Tatakai). During the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the reforms which put an end to the rule of the shogunate, a group of 3,000 people loyal to the old regime holed up inside the fort and resisted the new Meiji government. In the ensuing Hakodate War they held out for six months against an army of more than 8,000 before surrendered.

Goryokaku Park

 
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Travel Advice

Sightseeing

There is a monument to the man who supervised the design of Goryokaku, Takeda Ayasaburo. Originally from Iyo Mr. Takeda lived in Osaka during the late Edo period where he focused on Western studies. He later studied castle fortification and seamanship in Edo. Rumor has it that rubbing this monument's portrait will make you smarter! Because of this rumor his had is quite shiny.

Events

Events in 2017
Goryokaku Festival
Parade marches around the streets surrounding the park. The participants dress up as historical figures that have played a part in Goryokaku's history, such as the Shogunate rebels, Imperial forces, or the troops of Commodore Perry. May 20(Sat) and 21(Sun)
 
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Visit

Address 44 Goryokaku-cho, Hakodate-shi, Hokkaido
Phone 0138-51-2864 (Goryokaku Park Office)
Admission Free  
Hours Outside of moat
Free time

Inside of moat
05:00 to 19:00  April to October
05:00 to 18:00  November to March
 
Closed Open 7 Days a Week
Required Time 30 minutes
Getting There By Train
1 minute walk from JR Hakodate Station, take the Hakodate City Train bound for Yugawa for 16 minutes and get off at the Goryokakukoenmae bus stop, then walk 15 minutes.

By Car
Take Hokkaido Expressway to the Kunnui exit. It is approximately 97 kilometers from exit.
Parking No parking available
 
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Attractions in Japan

 
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