Fort Goryokaku is located in the city of Hakodate, on the island of Hokkaido in Japan. Construction on the fort began in 1857 and it was completed in the year 1864.

The name Goryokaku means "Pentagonal Fortress." This is actually a bit decieving, as Fort Goryokaku is actually shaped like a five-pointed star and not a pentagon. It was comissioned by the Tokugawa Shogunate as an office from which the trade and government of Hokkaido could be controlled.

The fort was designed by Ayasaburo Takeda, a Japanese scientist. He was advised by French soldiers and some Dutch fort designs. The original idea of a star-shaped fort came from Sebastian Vauban, who helped design other major fortifications (Fort McHenry in Baltimore, United States and the Citadel in Halifax, Canada). Vauban's star-shaped style was popular in Europe during the 19th century because it was able to stand up to modern weapons.

Fort Goryokaku played a major part in the Boshin War, which is also known as the Japanese Civil War. A group of shogunate had their final showdown with the newly established Imperial government. The shogunate forces started their rebellion in Kyoto, but eventually were pushed all the way back to the island of Hokkaido. It is at Goryokaku where the shogunate troops made their last stand in 1868. They managed to keep away the Imperial troops for a year before finally surrendering in 1869. The Boshin War ended here, as did 700 years of Samurai rule.

Since then, Fort Goryokaku has been converted into a park. It now hosts some special events that occur throughout the year:

Plays in the Park: Every Friday through Sunday from late July to early August, Fort Goryokaku is the stage for open-air plays. These plays are recreations of the history of Hakodate, and are enhanced with lights and music.

Goryokaku Star Dreams: Every night from the middle of Jaunary through the middle of February, the walls are lined with lights. Combine this with the snow-covered landscape that occurs during these to months and you have quite a spectacular view.

Goryokaku Festival: On the third Saturday and Sunday of may, there is a parade that marches around the streets surrounding Fort Goryokaku. The participants dress up as historical figures that have played a part in Fort Goryokaku's history, such as the Shogunate rebels, Imperial forces, or the troops of Commodore Perry.

The Cherry Festival: Fort Goryokaku also hosts a traditional cherry blossom viewing event when the flowers are in bloom. During this period, many people come to Fort Goryokaku to eat, sing, drink, and dance underneath the cherry blossoms.

This information was taken from a Fort Goryokaku tourism brochure and my own experience visitng there.

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