March 17, 2019

Capstone 2019: Goryoukaku Castle and Tower


Sunday March 17th, 2019, Hakodate, Hokkaido Japan.
We started our morning visit with a ride up to the top of the 350ft. Goryokaku tower. An exceptional 360° view of Hakodate city and the hills around it. The viewing deck provides a nice narrative and model display of the fort grounds below, a history of some major battles and take overs in the city back in the 1850s. Taka Sensei walked the students around the 15 miniature dioramas and explained how the region transferred influence from one group to the next.
The story began with the opening of the port due to the 1854 signing of the Peace and Amity Treaty between the US and Japan that ended 200 years of isolation. The “castle” or fort was built after this but was soon destroyed as the result of various conflicts. After 150 years the central building was meticulously rebuilt around 2010. This building sits now in the middle of the star shaped moat. After descending back down the kids got to walk shoeless through the all wooden structure assembled with amazing joinery techniques for the 1800s. Tatami mats and shoji screens in every room and clear grained wood framing and trim was enough to make this admirer of Japanese architecture swoon. If the kids got 10% of what I did out of it we will be fortunate. Eros and I wanted to take home the scale model to reassemble. It was itself a work of art. All in all it was an epic recreation of a beautiful building from the stone foundation to the copper roof tiles.  – TIS Parents Joshua and Sandra Peterson-Osterberg