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The Last Samurai Leading the Way toward the Northern Island

Posted: Jul. 1, 2014
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Hakodate – a port of international trade

What kind of place was Hakodate when Hijikata and Enomoto based themselves there?

Hakodate rapidly developed as an open port for international trade under the direct control of the shogunate after the 1854 conclusion of the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Peace and Amity following a visit by Commodore Mathew Perry to Japan. The US, the UK, Russia and other countries opened their consulates, and people from other countries came to live in the city.

Records show that most local residents opened shops or warehouses. The streets were filled during the daytime with local products and shoppers from Japan and elsewhere, and artisans with various skills worked in the city.

Hakodate’s Motomachi district is today home to the Old British Consulate, the Old Russian Consulate, the Orthodox Church and other structures representing the time when Japanese and Western cultures came together. The nearby Shomyoji Temple was used as a post for the Shinsengumi, and today has a cenotaph bearing the names of four of its members as well as Hijikata’s posthumous Buddhist name.

Woodblock print depicting the Battle of Hakodate

Battle of Hakodate illustration (Hakodate City Museum)

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