Special Historical Remain: Goryokaku Pentagonal Fort, Hakodate City (Hakodate-shi)


The first Western style fort built in Japan. Because of its star-shape, it is called “Goryokaku” (pentagonal fort). Built by the Tokugawa shogunate to guard attacks from the northern region, with the Benten-Houdai battery (near Hakodate Dock), It took them seven years from 1857 to build the fort and the battery. A Dutch studies scholar Ayasaburo Takeda designed the fort by researching the European forts and castles. The fort was planned to ready for the modern weapons such as guns; the pentagonal shape of the fort was chosen to minimize the blind spots by placing cannons in each of the corners.

The Japanese feudal magistrate station remain there was demolished in 1872, there are only provision storage and well left.

This is where “Hakodate War (also known as Battle of Goryokaku),” the last civil war of Japan took place. In 1868, the first year of Meiji era, the former governmental officers who disagreed with the “revert of the rights to the Royalty (1867.11.09)” such as Keisuke Otori, and Enomoto Takeaki, vice commander-in-chief of the former shogunate naval force and his fleet deserted Edo and occupied the fort of Goryokaku. This was to declare independent country as the “Republic of Ezo.” But the fort surrendered and fell in May of 1869; their dream of building the “Republic of Ezo” disappeared like the mist in the morning sun.

Today the fort is turned into a park, well known for its majestic cherry blossoms. Also in the hundred feet wide outer moat lives Japanese Carps, and the rental boats are popular as well. The Hakodate City Museum Annex, which is in the park, displays weapons, uniforms and other historically related articles.

15 minutes walk from “Goryokaku-Koen-Mae” streetcar stop.

Address: Goryokaku-cho Hakodate