|Mirror Bridge led to the entrance of the museum|
History: 1890 marks the birth of Abashiri Prison, when 1200 prisoners and 173 jailers were sent to the small town of Abashiri, for the daunting task of building a central highway through Hokkaido. Japanese government had to expedite the development of Hokkaido in light of potential advancement of Russia to the South. Prisoners went through extreme hardship and merciless treatment to complete the building of central highway within a remarkably short period of time. Lives were lost due to long working hours, malnutrition, dangerous working conditions and harsh winter conditions. Important rail roads, fishing ports and farms in Abashiri were also the fruits of labour from these prisoners. Abashiri Prison undoubtedly marks an important chapter in the development of Hokkaido.
In 1984, the original site was reconstructed and a portion of the heritage buildings were shifted to Mount Tento and this eventually transformed into the current Abashiri Prison Museum, for future generations to understand the conditions of Abashiri Prison in the past and highlights the contributions made by prisoners towards the development of Hokkaido in the early days.
|Red brick gate of Abashiri Prison|
|Reproduced the life of prisoners in temporary quarters|
|Right: Communal bathhouse; Left: Prisoners at work|
|Five winged prison - a unique arrangement of prison cells|
|How interior was kept warm during cold weathers|
|Details of prisoners' contributions to development of Hokkaido found in Penological Museum|
|Modern prison reproduced in Penological Museum|
- Cafeteria located in Futamigaoka Farm (which is closed in winter) reproduces the prison menu, for visitors to experience the meals prisoners ate in their cells. Another cafeteria which offers the same menu (all year round) is located at the entrance of the museum. In photos, the food do look like typical Japanese meal sets! Did not get to try it personally.
- Overall, it was time well spent in the museum, immersing ourselves with historical information on Hokkaido. Do allocate at least 1 - 2 hours to explore this well constructed museum fully.
Abashiri Prison Museum 博物館 網走監獄
0800 - 1800 hrs (Apr - Oct)
0900 - 1700 hrs (Nov - Mar)*You can get into the museum till one hour before closing time.
Admission fee = 940 yen (90 yen off with discount voucher)
Discount voucher can be retrieved online (http://www.kangoku.jp/waribiki.html) or from hotels located in Abashiri.
How to get there?
(1) By Tourist Facilities Bus 観光施設めぐり (Mount Tento line, 天都山).
Board the bus at Bus Stop 2 at Abashiri JR Station. Fee = 230 yen.
Timetable (In Japanese): http://www.abashiribus.com/rosenjikoku.html