Goryokaku is the pentagonal-shaped fortress constructed for the purpose of defence against the northern invasion of Japan in 1864. This is the first Vauban style fortress in Japan and designated as a Special Historical Site. Today the site is a famous spot for cherry blossom viewing, serving as a place of relaxation for citizens as well as a popular tourist spot for visitors.
The historic battlefield of the Hakodate War
Goryokaku is also famous for the battlefield of the Hakodate War (1868 to 1869), the final battle fought between the rebel Shognate forces and the Imperial forces in the early Meiji era. Even after the collapse of the Edo Shognate and the establishment of The Meiji government, the remnant of the Shognate forces landed on Hokkaido and took control of Goryokaku to establish ‘Ezo-kyowakoku.’ A year later the last of the rebels surrendered Goryokaku to the Imperial forces. Hijikata Toshizo, the lieutenant of Shinsengumi that served as the guard of Kyoto in the late Tokugawa shognate also participated in the war and died.
Spots of historical interest
After the Hakodate War, most of the buildings inside Goryokaku were removed. What we can see today are mostly the buildings restorations.
・Hakodate-Bugyo-sho, Hakodate Magistrate's Office
Officers of the shognate administrated, handled and negotiated with their foreign counterparts as well as defending the coastal line Hokkaido at this office. This office also served as the stronghold of the Shognate forces during the Hakodate War.
Entrance fee is required. Opening hours are 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. from April 1 to October 31, 9:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. from November 1 to March 31. It is closed from December 31 to January 3. It also can be closed temporarily for inspection and special cleaning of the facilities.
・Hyoryoko, storehouse of provisions
This is the only original building existing as it was. It was used as 'Fukkyu-kan,' a museum of the Hakodate War in the Taisho Period.
・Banko, storehouse of wooden walls and dozo, storehouse with thick earthen walls
Documents and articles were kept here. Banko, dozo and hyoryoko were built in on line. Today banko is used as the lounge, and dozo is the administrative office.
Documents on judgements at the Bugyo-sho were kept here.
Ryoho is a type of defense fortification first developed in the middle ages of Europe. The projected part of the fort, ryoho was used to rain gunfire to the enemy who had no place to hide.
・Hangetsuho, half-moon shaped bulwark
Hangetsuho is a fortification to protect the attack from the front entrance of Goryokaku. It has special measures on its stone walls that make it difficult to climb over from the outside. It also served as the screen hiding people and horses preparing to strike of from the fortress at the enemy.
・Dorui and ishigaki, earthworks and stonewall
Dorui in Goryokaku was constructed by using soil removed from a waterway construction site, which was strengthened with a layer of soil. Dorui constructed around three entrances are, in part, combined with stonewalls. Stonewall of the southwest entrance is higher than other stonewalls. Stones used for stonewalls were quarried from Mount Hakodate.
Cherry blossoms in spring and the night view
Goryokaku is a famous spot for cherry blossom-viewing. In late April, about 1,600 cherry trees come into their full glory and the site is thronged with people at the weekends and holidays. Enter into the site from the front entrance and cross the Ichinohashi-bridge, then you will arrive at the best spot for blossom-viewing. After full bloom, you can also enjoy the view of millions of petals covering the surface of the water of the moat.
The event called the Goryo Hoshino Yume (Star Dream event) is held from December 1 to the end of February. The moat of Goryokaku, covered with snow, is illuminted with thousands of lights to highlight its star-shape. Do not miss the chance to enjoy the extraordinary scene of snow and light. The hours for the illuminations run from 17:00 p.m. to 22:00 p.m.
The Hakodate Goryokaku Matsuri
In the area around Goryokaku, the Hakodate Goryokaku Matsuri is held in May every year. The matsuri-parade is held to impart the history of Goryokaku, the battleground of the Hakodate War.
During two days of the Hakodate Goryokaku Matsuri, you can watch various events. On the first day, Hizen-sai is held where people go around the site connected with the Hakodate War. Applicants perform the Hijikata Toshizo parade at the Hijikata Toshizo samurai cosplay contest. On the second day, you can enjoy the restoration-procession and a music parade and the parade of people clad in combat uniforms. The surrender of the fortress is reenacted at the Surrender Ceremony.
You can get to Goryokaku Park by trains, bus or car. By train, the Goryokaku-koen-mae station of the Hakodate tram is the nearest station. The nearest bus station is Goryokaku-koen-iriguchi of the Hakodate bus. By car, it takes about 45 minutes from Onuma Koen Interchange of the Hokkaido Expressway.
Image Gallery: Goryokaku Park
Description: Goryokaku Park
|Sights||Goryokaku Park (五稜郭公園)|
44, Goryokaku-cho, Hakodate-shi, Hokkaido
|Phone / Fax||Phone: 0138-40-3605|
|Closed dates||Irregular closed dates NEW YEAR'S HOLIDAY|
|Admission Fee||Pay admission: 500yen|
Spring (March - May)Summer (June - August) Autumn (September - November) Winter (December - February)
|Recommended target||Family Groups Infant & Toddler (ages 0-6) Child (ages 7-17) Adult (ages 20+) Single traveller|
Map: Goryokaku Park