Presented By Hakodate City Museum

Presented By Hakodate City Museum

During 1854 and 1854, a fleet of American ships under command of Commodore Perry visited ports such as Uraga and Hakodate and made contact with the Edo shogunate. For the prior period of approximately 270 years, Japan had avoided contact with foreign nations as much as possible, but Perry’s visit prompted the sudden start of relations with the West.

In these circumstances, the shogunate built Goryokaku as a fortress to secure Japan’s northern territories. The most prominent feature of this five-pointed star fortress is its Western-style earthwork. Goryokaku was completed in 1864 under plans laid by Ayasaburo Takeda, who was also known as “the Leonardo da Vinci of Japan”.

There were once approximately 25 auxiliary structures placed within the fortress grounds, and approximately one-third of these had been accurately restored by 2010. It is thought that these ground plans for Goryokaku’s earthwork were penned by Ayasaburo Takeda himself.

Goryokaku Fortress and the surrounding neighborhood are now a place of relaxation for Hakodate’s citizens and tourists alike. In early May, some 1600 cherry trees which have been planted into the earthworks come into vibrant bloom.

Words Masaharu Taniguchi
Translation by Xene Inc.

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