Abashiri Prison Museum

Abashiri Prison Museum

japan‘s Only Prison Museum: A Glimpse into the Dark History of Abashiri Prison


Located on the side of Mt. Tento in Abashiri, eastern Hokkaido, the Abashiri Prison Museum stands as the only prison museum in Japan. It offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the dark stories and history of Japan’s most notorious jail. From the harsh punishment endured by prisoners to the construction of the prison itself, the museum provides a fascinating insight into the past. This article will delve into the various aspects of the Abashiri Prison Museum, giving readers a comprehensive understanding of its significance.

The Harsh Punishment in a Tough Territory:

During the Meiji era in Japan, Abashiri Prison was known for its harsh punishment. In fact, it was considered the most severe form of confinement, second only to the death penalty. Criminals, including political prisoners, were sent to Abashiri to construct the prison with their bare hands. The prison’s main attraction is the exceptional five-wing wooden prison house, which was completed in 1912. Visitors can explore this masterpiece and imagine the hardships faced by the prisoners during their confinement.

The Construction of the First Road to Sapporo:

In addition to building the prison, the inmates of Abashiri Prison were also forced to construct the first road to Sapporo. This was done as a precautionary measure against potential Russian invasion. The penological/virtual reality section of the museum allows visitors to experience the heroic story of these prisoners who toiled to create a vital transportation route. Through virtual reality technology, visitors can immerse themselves in the challenges faced by the prisoners during this construction project.

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Trying the “Prisoner’s Meal”:

For those looking to truly immerse themselves in the experience of Japan’s prison life, the Abashiri Prison Museum offers the opportunity to try the “prisoner’s meal.” This unique dining experience allows visitors to taste the traditional meals that were served to prisoners in the past. It provides an unusual and inexpensive lunch option, giving visitors a taste of history and a glimpse into the daily life of inmates.

Exploring Mt. Tento:

Besides the Abashiri Prison Museum, Mt. Tento offers visitors breathtaking views of the Abashiri area. It is also home to two other excellent museums: the Okhotsk Drift Ice Museum and the Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples. These museums provide further insights into the history and culture of the region, making Mt. Tento a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

Getting There:

To visit the Abashiri Prison Museum, visitors can take a bus or taxi from Abashiri city center. Alternatively, there is a bus service available from Memanbetsu Airport. From Abashiri Bus Terminal or Abashiri Station, visitors can take the Kanko Shisetsu Meguri bus towards Tentozan. From Memanbetsu Airport, the limousine bus towards Abashiri Bus Terminal is the most convenient option. Once at Tentozan-Iriguchi, it is a short walk or taxi ride to the museum.


The Abashiri Prison Museum stands as a testament to Japan’s dark past and the hardships endured by its prisoners. From the construction of the prison itself to the harsh punishment inflicted upon inmates, the museum offers a unique glimpse into Japan’s history. Visitors can explore the exceptional five-wing wooden prison house, experience the challenges faced by prisoners through virtual reality, and even try the “prisoner’s meal.” Combined with the stunning views of Mt. Tento and the other museums in the area, a visit to the Abashiri Prison Museum is an enriching and educational experience.

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Address And Maps Location:

1-1 Yobito, Abashiri-shi, Hokkaido

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