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Goryoukaku Koen: Hakodate's Star-Shaped Historical Fort turned Public Park

Posted on December 3, 2020


Goryoukaku Park is equally great for both the history buffs and the leisurely strollers. Standing today as one of the major attractions of Hakodate, Goryoukaku Park was originally constructed as a fortress during the Republic of Ezo during the last few years of the Edo Period to protect the city against Western powers. Today, the star-shaped fortress has been commemorated into a Special Historical Site and public park for everyone to enjoy. Walking around Goryoukaku is beautiful all year round and especially perfect for cherry-blossom viewing in the springtime. The spectacular view of the star-shaped moat can be best seen from Goryoukaku Tower.


Goryoukaku Park spring cherry blossoms

photo by @kichinakamura

In spring, the moat is surrounded by cherry blossoms in full bloom on all sides. You can see the 107 meter tall Goryoukaku Tower in the distance.


Goryoukaku tower and Park Spring cherry blossoms

photo by @kichinakamura

Hakodate is Hokkaido’s southern most city and most accessible from the main island of Honshu. There is a Shinkansen high-speed rail train that runs from Tokyo to Hakodate that will transport you to this beautiful northern city in just four hours. Hakodate is renowned all over Japan for its sublime seafood, onsen, and stunning backdrop of mountains and ocean!


Goryoukaku Park summer

photo by @zukki_wdh7

The unique star-shaped park is best viewed from a high distance. Summers in Hokkaido remain at a wonderful temperate climate and so you won’t get too hot or humid like in Tokyo or in other parts of Japan!


Goryoukaku Park pink lotus flowers

photo by @neko_mum

Pink lotus flowers floating in the moat.


Goryoukaku Park magistrate office autumn

photo by @s751_km

In the middle of the park and former fort stands the old Magistrate’s Office. This is where all affairs of the shogunate officers were carried out in governing Hokkaido during the Edo era. The building was eventually demolished in 1871 along with the fall of the shogunate. In 2010, the city of Hakodate reconstructed the building back to its original condition and opened it to the public.


Goryoukaku Park autumn leaves and girl

photo by @dotcom.9wld

All the cherry blossom trees turn a brilliant ochre yellow in the autumn months.


Goryoukaku Park star-shaped view

photo by: @nis182


Remember that same star-shaped moat you saw in the summer months up above? Come December-March, you’ll find the grooves of the very same moat have transformed into a snowy white border for the star. Hakodate is generally famous in Japan for its night views of the city, but what could beat this charming view spot? Take your significant other here for a romantic evening and then enjoy a warm, cozy hot spring bath!


Written by: Maya Kimura Watts