"Goryokaku Park" - Enjoy a pleasant stroll through a beautiful park while experiencing a bit of history.
A light purple tunnel.
The picture above is from June 10th, 2012, and it features beautiful wisteria on a trellis surrounded by the large stone walls of none other than "Goryokaku Gardens" in Hakodate!
Every year in May the cherry blossoms in this area begin to bloom, providing a wonderful view for any visitors who decide to climb Goryokaku Tower located beside the park. The ruins of the castle are a fantastic sight to behold in person when the trees are in full bloom.
But cherry blossoms aren't the only feature of this park, there are many beautiful flowering plants alongside interesting historic artifacts located throughout the park. In this article I'd like to take a bit of time here to show you some of the highlights.
From the end of May until early July flowering azaleas can be seen everywhere you look. The park has many different varieties of this flower, and they have staggered blooming periods, so the experience changes depending on the time of your visit.
Below is a view across the castle's moat.
Flowering bushes are planted right beside the walking paths in the park.
Flowers also adorn the monuments.
This is a monument to the man who supervised the design of Goryokaku, Takeda Ayasaburo. Originally from Iyo Mr. Takeda lived in Osaka during the late Edo period where he focused on Western studies. He later studied castle fortification and seamanship in Edo.
Rumor has it that rubbing this monument's portrait will make you smarter! Because of this rumor his had is quite shiny.
Two cannons are located at the gate in front of Mr. Takeda's monument.
The large cannon in the foreground was originally made in the England, and was installed here to help protect the castle.
The cannon in the back of the photo was made in Germany and was used on ships.
The white wall you can just barely make out behind the cannons is the wall of an old storehouse. This is the granary where the army would store their rice and other provisions.
This is the only building within the Goryokaku walls that exists today as it did when first built, and it is in especially fine form having recently been repaired. It's interesting to think of all the people who once ate food that was stored in this very spot.
Turning away from the storehouse a much more splendid building comes into view. The Hakodate magistrate's office, a spot quite popular among tourists.
Although in May the area is colored by the many cherry trees in bloom, June is the month of beautiful wisteria.
If you do visit the park, you have to see the "Otemon" a wisteria covered trellis surrounded by stone walls located on the inside of the moat entrance.
This area was originally the main entrance to the castle, so it is protected by higher and stronger stone walls than any other spot.
During the Edo period many patriots would pass through this area with a sword strapped on their waist. Nowadays it is much more common to see tourists with cameras around their necks, but no matter what era, the gate has an imposing air about it.
Also, located near here is a lesser known sight seeing spot.
If you walk around to the back of the stone wall you'll find that it is possible to climb to the top of the wall and take a walk above the park itself. The view of the flowers from atop the wall is absolutely spectacular.
This area is a bit quieter than the park paths, which can be quite busy with tourists.
Now that the cherry blossom season is over, the park will transition to dandelions, azaleas, wisteria, rugosa rose, and hydrangea flowers.
No matter what time of summer you decide to visit, you can be sure there will be a beautiful garden waiting for you. So, the next time you visit Hakodate, be sure to stop by Goryokaku Park!
※Photographs taken May - June of 2012, and May of 2013.
(Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer - Nobu Kawashima)