The Magistrate’ Office restored to what it was like around 140 years ago
Hakodate Magistrate’s Office is a shogunal administrative facility established in the late Edo era (1603 – 1868) in Hakodate, where one of Japan’s first ports was opened, as a base to fortify the country’s northern border. It was completed in 1864 in the center of the Western-style star-shaped Goryokaku fort. The area was the site of the 1868 Battle of Hakodate, which was the last clash between the forces of the Tokugawa Shogunate and those seeking to return political power to the imperial court. The original Magistrate’s Office was demolished two years later.
Hakodate Magistrate’s Office was restored in 2010, approximately 140 years after the demise of the original facility, using the materials and construction methods employed for the original building wherever possible based on old photographs, excavated artifacts and literature. A third of the building was restored using information from photographic resources, and a flat display of architectural remains is maintained for the other two thirds. Today the special historic Goryokaku site is a place where visitors can see and experience the restored Hakodate Magistrate’s Office and other artifacts representing a time spanning from the end of the samurai period to the Meiji Restoration. Observation tours and seminars on Japanese culture are held in the office.
A faithful reproduction of a large hall in the shoin architectural style
The Hakodate Magistrate’s Office tour is divided into the Reproduction Zone, the Discovery History Zone, the Image Theater and the Restoration Experience Zone. The Reproduction Zone features a large hall in the shoin architectural style, representing the most prestigious architecture in the office, where visitors can view the design and decor of the time. The Discovery History Zone displays panels featuring Goryokaku, Hakodate Magistrate’s Office, the Battle of Hakodate and historical figures. In the Image Theater, a 17-minute film on the restoration of Hakodate Magistrate’s Office is shown, and wood-joining and other construction methods are showcased in the Restoration Experience Zone.
Artifacts from the end of the Edo era to the Meiji era can be experienced
The restored Hakodate Magistrate’s Office is the ideal place for visitors to learn about the characteristics and roles of Edo-era administrative structures including shoin-style rooms and to experience/enjoy artifacts from that time.