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Goryōkaku viewed from Goryōkaku Tower

19th-century map of Goryōkaku

The governmental hall of the Republic of Ezo

Goryōkaku (五稜郭?) is a star fort in the Japanese city of Hakodate on the island of Hokkaidō.[1] It was the main fortress of the short-lived Republic of Ezo.


Goryōkaku was designed in 1855 by Takeda Hisaburō. His plan was based on the work of the French architect Vauban.[1] It is shaped like a five-pointed star. This 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.

The fort was built by the Tokugawa shogunate to protect the Tsugaru Strait against a possible invasion by the Russian fleet.[1]

Goryōkaku is famous as the site of the last battle of the Boshin War (Goryōkaku no Tatakai). The fighting lasted for a week (June 20–27, 1869).[2]


Today, Goryōkaku 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 cherry-blossom viewing in spring.

See also

  • List of Special Places of Scenic Beauty, Special Historic Sites and Special Natural Monuments
  • Benten Daiba, another key fortress of the Republic of Ezo.
  • Citadel Hill, a similar shaped fortress in Nova Scotia, Canada


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Goryōkaku" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 259.
  2. Nussbaum, "Goryōkaku no Tatakai" at p. 259.

Further reading

  • Schmorleitz, Morton S. (1974). Castles in Japan. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co.. p. 144. ISBN 0-8048-1102-4. 
  • Motoo, Hinago (1986). Japanese Castles. Tokyo: Kodansha. p. 200 pages. ISBN 0-87011-766-1. 

External links

Coordinates: 41°47′49″N 140°45′25″E / 41.79694°N 140.75694°E / 41.79694; 140.75694

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