The Shiryokaku fort is Goryokaku’s lesser known little brother. Its sits on a gentle slope about three kilometers northeast of Goryokaku and was intended to protect that fort’s rear against attack. “Shiryokaku” literally means “four-sided fortification” (“Goryokaku” means “five-sided fortification”). It is a very simple affair composed of earthen walls with four bastions and surrounded by a dry moat. There is a shielded entrance on the south side. There don’t seem to have been any permanent structures within the walls. Just as Goryokaku is often compared to a star, the shape of Shiryokaku is sometimes compared to a butterfly.
In April, 1869, Shiryokaku was built in just two weeks under the direction of Otori Keisuke, commander-in-chief of the army of the Ezo Republic and his French second in command, Jules Brunet. So it was something of a Franco-Japanese co-production. However, Imperial forces overran the fort in just a few hours on May 11th as the defenders retreated for their last stand in Goryokaku.
The photo above is the view from the Northeast bastion with a clear view of the trench. The tower in the distance marks the site of Goryokaku. Mount Hakodate is behind that to the right.
Shiryokaku is well worth a visit for hard core castle fans and history buffs. Others might prefer to pass on it, although in the summer it's a great place for kids to catch bugs or for a game of frisbee.
All photos and text donated by RonS
|English Name||Shiryokaku Fort|
|Founder||Otori Keisuke/Jules Brunet|
|Castle Condition||Ruins only|
|Designations||National Historic Site|
|Historical Period||Edo Period|
|Main Keep Structure||Earthen walls with four bastions surrounded by a dry moat (trench)|
|Year Reconstructed||Restored in 1934 and 1990|
|Access||private car, taxi or city bus|
|Coordinates||41° 49' 32.09" N, 140° 46' 14.88" E|
|Year Visited||Viewer Contributed|
|Added to Jcastle||2011|