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Goryōkaku is a star-shaped fortress located in the city of Hakodate, Japan. It was designed by Takeda Ayasaburō in 1855 and completed in 1866, just two years before the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Its unique design, based on the work of French architect Vauban, allowed for more gun emplacements on its walls than traditional Japanese fortresses, making it a formidable defensive structure.

The purpose of Goryōkaku was to protect the Tsugaru Strait from potential Russian invasions. Its location on a hill overlooking the city provided strategic advantage, and it remained an active military installation until 1910. Today, the fortress is a popular tourist attraction, offering visitors a glimpse into Japan’s military history.

The Battle of Hakodate was the final battle of the Boshin War, and it took place at Goryōkaku in 1869. The fighting lasted for a week, and it resulted in the defeat of the pro-imperial forces led by Enomoto Takeaki. The victory by the imperial army marked the beginning of the Meiji era, which saw significant changes in Japan’s political and social structures.

Visitors to Goryōkaku can take a stroll around the fort’s grounds, which offer beautiful views of the surrounding city and the ocean beyond. The fortress has been beautifully restored, and its moats and walls are now lined with cherry blossom trees, making it a popular spot for hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, during the springtime.

One of the main attractions within the fortress is the Goryōkaku Tower, which provides an excellent panoramic view of the entire fort and its surroundings. The tower also houses a museum that details the history of Goryōkaku and its role in Japan’s military history.

In addition to the tower and museum, visitors can also explore the many bunkers and tunnels located throughout the fortress. These underground structures were used by soldiers to move around the fortress undetected, and they provide a unique glimpse into the daily life of soldiers stationed at Goryōkaku.

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