On May 11, 1869(Meiji 2) the fiercest battle of Hakodate War was fought in downtown Hakodate. At that time Koryuji Temple was located at the foot of the slope where it stands now and it was used as a branch of Hakodate Hospital for deserted soldiers of the old Shogunate army.
On this day spearhead force of the new government’s army burst into the temple and killed the sick and wounded in bed, then set fire to the temple. The Aizu clan forces which fought against the new government paid dearly in human cost in this battle.
In 1879 (Meiji 12) Koryji Temple was moved to its present location and the following year the supporters of the Aizu clan erected this monument in memory of those who were murdered in this attack.
The Chinese characters on the monument read, “Shoshin Zammoku” or “mourning an ancient battlefield.” These are the words of Rika, a Chinese literary man of the Tang period (618-906). The characters were traced over the genuine writing of Gakuhi, a faithful retainer of Southern Sung(1127-1278), China.
Almost all foreigners who died in Hakodate were buried in this CEMETERY.
Although some Christian Japanese Citizens were also entombed here.
When Admiral Matthew C. Perry, Commander of the American, entered Hakodate in April.
1854; two crewmen, Wolfe(50 years) and Remick(19 years) were buried here. Also included in the 40 graves are the Denmark Consul Duus, the German Vice-Consul Haber, and an English warehouse manager Scott.
Ishikawa Takuboku, a famous poet, once wrote a poem about a beggar walking around, muttering something precious and virtuous to himself. The beggar named Manpei was a popular figure who lived in Hakodate during the Meiji and early Taisho years.
He was a man of great spirit,and a good sense of humor, and he was never known to ask others for alms. Every morning he searched through garbage cans for food and wrote a simple description of each household he visited like a diary.
For instance, “November 1, 1906. Fine. First I went to rummage through the garbage can of Yamada Kunihiko (Mayor of Hakodate). Mr. Yamada’s wife, living a most civilized life, is as can be expected. Finding a piece of pork fat with some raddish peelings in the garbage, I suppose she is now learning Western cooking…”
When Fujioka Sobei, who was an ironmaster in Osaka, came to Hakodate on business, he asked Manpei to light his cigarette. He was rebuked for his impoliteness to have asked “Without taking off his hat” by Manpei.
Fujioka was so deeply impressed by Manpei’s character that after Manpei died in 1915 Fujioka built a grave stone for the repose of Manpei’s soul with the help of his friends in Hakodate.