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Goryokaku Fort

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Goryokaku Fort

Goryokaku Fort

The Goryokaku Fort was built in 1857 and completed in 1864. The construction of this fort was to defend against overseas aggression after Matthew Perry forced Japan to sign a treaty at the Convention of Kanagawa to end the era of isolation in 1854. Goryokaku Fort became the first Western style fortress in Japan. To increase the political and diplomatic power of Hakodate, the Magistrate’s Office was transferred to Goryokaku from the base of Mount Hakodate. However, before the fort could be used against foreign adversaries, the Boshin War began. This was shortly after the completion of the fortress.

When Goryokaku Fort lost its military purpose it was converted into a park in the 1910s. The star shape was meant to hold a number of gun emplacements as well as reduce the number of blind spots for cannons. Over 1600 Yoshino cherry blossom trees were planted all over the fortress. In 1914, Goryokaku was officially opened as a park. It was declared a Special Historical Site in 1952. In 2010, the meticulous reconstruction of the Magistrate’s Office was completed. Now the public grounds are open to the public and are known as one of the best places to see cherry blossoms in early May partly because it has more than a thousand trees blooming there each year. An observation tower is also available for public use to view the grounds from above.



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