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Abashiri Prison Museum Review and Photos

Updated: Oct 27, 2023


1-1 Yobito, Abashiri, Hokkaido 099-2421

Abashiri Prison entrance

I came to the long-awaited Abashiri Prison! The prison site is large, and the order of the tour is free. I would like to introduce the prison cell buildings and the central lookout (Important Cultural Property), which most people would be very interested in.

Abashiri prison cell buildings

Five prison cell buildings with a length of more than 50m are built in a radial pattern.

Abashiri prison the central Mihari (central lookout)

The five buildings are connected at one point, and there is a small room called the central Mihari (central lookout)

the central Mihari (central lookout)

This central lookout room overlooks the connecting corridors of all the prison cell buildings. It's very noticeable when someone comes out of any prison cells. If you take a panorama photo, it looks like a composite photo. A visually confusing place, like the movie Matrix or Dr. Strange. Even with this watch system, there was a prisoner who succeeded in prison break.

Hokkaido Abashiri prison inside

During the personal tour, I lost track of which cell building I was in.

Hokkaido Abashiri prison inside

The scenery seen from the windows are also very similar and confusing. Where are we? ? Did we tour the building over there??

Abashiri prison lookout room

One of the guards was watching the corridor from this window every night. I wonder what he was thinking when he sat here. It was an era when there were no security cameras.

Abashiri prison cell hallway

A region with harsh winters and heavy snow. These buildings have a solid feeling, they must be strong structures to withstand the winter. No wonder it is an important cultural property. I thought that the white walls were strangely clean, and found out that it was relocated here in 1985. The original was made in 1912, the 45th year of Meiji.

solitary confinement room

This is a solitary confinement room. In a small room of only a few tatami mats, prison guards could pass meals and talk to the prisoner without opening the door. Did the prisoner work alone in this tiny room alone? It's for prisoners who can't be put in a shared cell with other prisoners. When exercising or working in the field, they must have been let outside, I hope.

Abashiri multi person cell and a stove

This is a multi-person cell. "Inmate friends" sounds somewhat fashionable in English. The wax figure prisoners are eating a meal together happily, but there is no doubt that they were gloomier in real life. The photo on the right is a wood burning stove. A normal stove will only heat up a small area and the rest of the space will not be warm. They stretched the long pipe to heat a wider area.

Abashiri Prison inside

A sad atmosphere... I would hate to spend years here.

Abashiri prison cells

Working as a guard can be mentally tough too. There were almost no local people, so they had to recruit people from the mainland to become guards.

Prison cell Equipment list

Equipment list in the multi-person cell. There is a Shogi board and an Igo board in the list. (Traditional Japanese board games.) I’m glad there was some entertainment.

Abashiri prison, a hunting rifle, a sword and a saber

A hunting rifle, a sword and a saber. Looks very Meiji to me.

Outer wall of the Abashiri Prison

Windows with sturdy steel bars.

Abashiri Prison Faming

Farming was an important work, as they were basically self-sufficient. They also made their own miso and soy sauce. A large barrel for pickled white radish (takuwan) was on display.

Self-sufficient Futamigaoka prison farm. A rare prison specialized in agriculture.

Futamigaoka prison farm

Self-sufficient Futamigaoka prison farm. A rare prison specialized in agriculture.

Futamigaoka prison inside

Food Sampling? Did they need to sample the food they made? I wonder if they were also cooking meals to send to the main prison.

Futamigaoka prison agriculture work

Wow, people are doing detailed looking work. Sorting red beans?

prisoners cooking at the Futamigaoka prison

If you try to cook a meal for a large number of people just using firewood, it will be hard work.

Abashiri Futamigaoka prison workers

Lucky prisoners were given light work.

Abashiri Futamigaoka prisoners eating

Cooking and eating the ingredients they farmed was good for their mental health, perhaps.

prison lavatory

Oh wait a minute dude, What are you doing? It's all in full view. Was it necessary to make it so open?

Abashiri prison public bath

A large bathhouse is located in a separate building. Bath time was only 15 minutes. Futamigaoka Farm also had a bath. There are some tattoo dads as we expected. I would hate taking a bath while being watched by the guards.

 Ezo squirrel

Oh, a wild Ezo squirrel is happily chewing on something. This is outside the prison history museum. In the museum, the screen room shows prisoner dramas. You can experience the weight of manacles and fetters.

Prisoners weaving straw sandals

Prisoners weaving straw sandals. What, wearing straw sandals in Hokkaido? It must have been cold.

Abashiri punishment cell

This is a terrifying punishment cell. Alone in a hut built outside. Dark, small and cold. But prisoners won't be put here unless they do something bad.

Abashiri carrier pigeon

Yay, a bird! They are not playing around with animals. They used carrier pigeons for communication. Air freight is the fastest way to deliver a letter in a wasteland.

Japanese prison uniform

The orange one is the Meiji Era, and the green one is the current prison uniform. Both are hopelessly ugly. Is it somewhat better in the Meiji period when the colors are brighter? I understand that they are prisoners but making them wear such ugly outfits is not nice. No way, is this also part of the punishment?

Teranaga Hosen

A Buddhist monk named Teranaga Hosen used to visit several times a month. It must have been rare to talk to people outside the walls, and many prisoners must have felt at ease. At first, I thought he was a former prisoner of a monk since his wax doll figure looks a bit scary.

prison new years eve dinner

Special prisoner menu for New Year's Eve. I'm not sure when it was served, but I think it's from recent years because there's Coca-Cola in plastic bottles. There seems to be no such arrangement in the Meiji and Taisho eras. Conversely, even if there were no special events such as New Year's, if they hunted bears, they might have fed the prisoners. The government used hard labor on prisoners and they needed to eat as much as possible to survive.

Hokkaido prison workers

This is temporary housing for prisoners when working far away. Prisoners were used as tools for the development of Hokkaido prefecture. Hokkaido's roads, railways, ports, etc. were built through the hard labor of prisoners.

Abashiri resident office

Many people moved to Abashiri to run Abashiri Prison. A village office was established for the residents.


Abashiri branch of the Kushiro District Court. This was the actual building. There are many funny wax dolls. A typical bad teenage boy, a mean middle-aged woman etc.

I've been wanting to visit Abashiri Prison for a long time, and I was so excited to be here. I hope you enjoyed my review and the photos. The trip is just beginning. From here, I'm going to explore the great Hokkaido outdoors!

Please visit my glass jewelry shop from the link below.



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