Item# HAKODATE0055

Product Description

Gryokaku and restored main hall

Goryokaku is a star fort in the city of Hakodate in southern Hokkaido, Japan. It was the main fortress of the short-lived Republic of Ezo.

Built by the Tokugawa shogunate in 1857-1866, it was located in the center of the port of Hakodate, on the island of Hokkaido. Shaped like a five-pointed star, it 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. In designing Goryokaku, Takeda Ayasaburo, a Rangaku scholar, adopted elements of the designs of the French architect Vauban, who developed fortresses responding to the spread of the use of cannon in warfare.

Goryokaku is famous as the site of the last battle of the Boshin War. On December 9 (lunar calendar October 26), 1868, Otori Keisuke and Hijikata Toshizo and their troops entered the fort. A week after Hijikata's death, on June 27 (lunar calendar May 18), 1869, Goryokaku fell to the new army of Japan, and much of it was reduced to ruin.

Today, Goryokaku is a park. It has been declared a Special Historical Site and is home to the Hakodate city museum. The grounds are a favorite spot for hanami.