Abashiri Prison Museum

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


Japan’s only prison museum, located in the city of Abashiri in eastern Hokkaido, offers visitors a unique opportunity to delve into the history of one of Japan’s most notorious jails. Perched on the side of Mt. Tento, this museum tells dark stories and provides a glimpse into the harsh realities of life in Japan’s wild frontier. In this article, we will explore the different aspects of the Abashiri Prison Museum, including its design, historical significance, and the experiences it offers to visitors.

The Main Prison House: A Fascinating Design

One of the highlights of the Abashiri Prison Museum is the main prison house. This exceptional five-wing wooden structure, completed in 1912, showcases the architectural prowess of the inmates who were responsible for its construction. As visitors explore the museum, they can marvel at the intricate details and craftsmanship that went into building this imposing structure. The main prison house stands as a testament to the determination and resilience of those who were incarcerated within its walls.

Prison Life: A Virtual Reality Experience

For those curious about the realities of prison life, the Abashiri Prison Museum offers a virtual reality section that allows visitors to experience the rigors and challenges faced by inmates. Through immersive technology, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of the harsh conditions and strict discipline that characterized prison life in Abashiri. This unique experience provides a glimpse into the daily struggles and hardships endured by those who were incarcerated in this notorious jail.

The Construction of the First Road to Sapporo

Beyond its role as a prison, Abashiri also played a significant role in the construction of the first road to Sapporo. In order to guard against potential Russian invasion, inmates were forced to laboriously construct this vital transportation route. The penological/virtual reality section of the museum offers visitors the opportunity to learn about this heroic endeavor and experience the challenges faced by the inmates. This section serves as a reminder of the indomitable spirit and resilience of those who were imprisoned in Abashiri.

The “Prisoner’s Meal”: A Taste of the Past

For visitors seeking a truly immersive experience, the Abashiri Prison Museum offers the chance to sample a “prisoner’s meal.” This unusual and inexpensive lunch option allows visitors to taste the same meals that were served to inmates during the prison’s active years. By indulging in this unique culinary experience, visitors can gain a deeper appreciation for the hardships and realities of life behind bars.

Exploring Mt. Tento: Other Museums in the Area

In addition to the Abashiri Prison Museum, Mt. Tento is home to two other excellent museums: the Okhotsk Drift Ice Museum and the Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples. These museums offer visitors the opportunity to further explore the history and culture of the region. The Okhotsk Drift Ice Museum showcases the unique natural phenomenon of drift ice in the Sea of Okhotsk, while the Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples provides insights into the indigenous cultures that have thrived in this northern region of Japan.


The Abashiri Prison Museum stands as a testament to Japan’s dark past and offers visitors a unique and immersive experience. From the fascinating design of the main prison house to the virtual reality section that allows visitors to experience prison life, this museum provides a window into a bygone era. By exploring the history and stories behind Abashiri Prison, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of the hardships endured by inmates and the resilience of the human spirit. A visit to the Abashiri Prison Museum is not only an educational experience but also a chance to reflect on the importance of justice, rehabilitation, and the pursuit of a better society.

Address And Maps Location:

1-1 Yobito, Abashiri-shi, Hokkaido

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