[Abashiri Prison Museum in Abashiri] Retoro Buildings and Weird Wax Dolls Excite Visitor's Curiosity
August 13th, 2016
Abashiri Prison Museum
Abashiri Prison Museum (博物館網走監獄) is one of most popular tourist attractions of Abashiri city between Lake Abashiri and Mt. Tento-san. Buildings of former Abashiri prison (旧網走刑務所) were moved to here, and rebuilt on large land of 169,264 m2, and it has been opend since 1983. About 200,000 tourists come to see prisoner's livelihood in the late 1800s (Meiji Period). The prison is well-known for a lot of Japanese movies and novels such as Abashiri Banngai-chi (網走番外地) that Mr. Ken Takakura (高倉健) play the lead using here as a motif. Recently, Golden Kamuy (ゴールデンカムイ), a popular manga, uses here as a motif. Admission fee is JPY 1,080. A parking lot is free of charge. Their website has a voucher, and they discount the admission fee if visitors show it on a smartphone.
The distnace is about 5 km away from the center of the Abashiri, and the Lake Abashiri, Abashiri-Kohan Onsen (網走湖畔温泉), Omagari Lakeside Park (大曲湖畔園地) and Mt. Tento-san (天都山) are around here. Kanigen (かに源), a popular conveyor belt sushi restraunt, is relatively near here, too. A direct bus does not run between Sapporo or New Chitose Airport and here, but a express bus "Dollymint Okhotsk-go (ドリーミントオホーツク号)" runs between the Sapporo and the Abashiri.
Omagari Lakeside Park
Omagari Lakeside Park (大曲湖畔園地) is a former farm of Abashiri Prison (網走刑務所) in the northern lakeside of Lake Abashiri (網走湖), and become a tourist farm at present time. Abashiri people and tourists can enjoy experiencing harvest and birdwatching, and here is famous for sunflower and cosmos in a summer and an autumn. As for the sunflower, 1.5 million sunflowers are planted in the field of 18 ha, and are in full bloom in late September. It is lit up early in the evening. I have never seen those, so I want to try and see. Admission free. A parking lot is free of charge. There are a restroom and the parking lot on the site. The park opens from early May to October. Article is here
Abashiri-Kohan Onsen (網走湖畔温泉) facing Lake Abashiri (網走湖) is a hot spring resort located in the south side of Abashiri city. Hotel Abashirikoso (ホテル網走湖荘) succeeded in drilling hot springs in 1981, so the Abashiri-Kohan Onsen became well-known to the public and has known as the hot spring resort. 4 onsen accommodations dot for about 3 km along Kitami National Route (北見国道 * National Route 39) in the northeast of the Lake Abahiri. There are Yobitoura Campsite, cafes, restaurants, a variety goods shop and a forest of Yobito Skunk Cabbage Colony along the Kitami National Route. Risu-no-Mori (リスの森), Sobakiri On (そば切り 温) and cafe & cake Fuka (風花) are popular in particular. By the way, there is not a convenience store. Article is here
Conveyor Belt Sushi Kanigen
Kanigen (かに源) is a popular conveyor belt sushi restraunt near Abashiri station. A building is not so large, but it has an unique atmosphere. I visited here to be on time for night opening hours at 16:30 on weekdays. A visitor like regular customer enter the building immediately after my entering. Article is here
Abashiri Prison Museum Tour
The Abashiri Prison is one of prisons built to counter the Russia expanding southward in Hokkaido in the late 1800s (the Meiji Period). A lot of prisoners transfered to develop the Hokkaido and increase the population from Japan mainlands to the Hokkaido. There are all 38 buildings, and 4 buildings among those have been designated as a national important cultural property. By the way, real iwax dolls of prisoners and guards are weird. Those sad expression and device to sometimes work were so amazing it gave me goosebumps. They carry out a free guided tour from April 21 to October 20. Because it has an atmosphere that you do not know if you do not visit here, please visit here. It takes about 2-3 hours to look around carefully on foot. You may be tired, so you had better wear comfortable shoes.
Goverment Building (旧網走監獄庁舎) has been designed as the national important cultural property, and features an interesting compromise between Eastern and Western archtectural design. Light blue is impressive. At the building, documents about the prisoner and the Hokkaido development are displayed, and there are Abashiri Prison Library (網走監獄ライブラリ) and a souvenir shop, too. A movie "Birth of Abashiri Prison and the Mission (網走監獄誕生とその使命)" is shown.
Former Prison Staff Quarters (旧網走刑務所職員官舎) are called "Japanese Style Single Story Row House (看守長屋)". The area of the house is 29.7521 m2, and it is very small. I am suprised at a prison staff with a wife and 2 children that lived at the house.
Temporary Quarters (休泊所) are mobile quarters for developing roads from Abashiri to Sapporo, and the another name is "Mobile Prisons (動く監獄)". A log was used as a pillow, and a prison guard knocked on the log with a hammer at the time of waking up. It looks tough.
Abashiri Prison Futamigaoka Farm (二見ヶ岡刑務支所) was built on a hill in the wesern part of Abashiri city in 1986. Buildings are the oldest wooden prison in the world, and have been designed as the national important cultural property. It achieved a role as an agriculture base. There is a restraunt at the building, and visitors can eat a prison meal "Kangoku-meshi (監獄飯)". It is closed in a winter.
Radial 5-Winged Prison House (五翼放射状平屋舎房) has radial 5 prison and a centaral observation room with a hexagon, guards are easy to watch prisoners. It was an exact copy of a radial prison from Leuven, Belgium. The stylish retro buildins are very cool, and were built in 1945, and used to be the largest wooden prison in those days. Those buildings have been designed as the national important cultural property.
Prayer Hall (教誨堂) features an interesting compromise between Eastern and Western archtectural design, and has the Eastern appearance and Western interior decoration. It was built for prisoner's own salvation in 1912, and has been designed as a national important cultural property. This hall is large, so a lot of prisoners seemed to come to gain freedom of spirit.
Atmosphere of Abashiri Prison Museum Can Be Watched on Youtube
|Admission fee||Adult: JPY 1080. Elementary or junior high school student: JPY 540.|
|Parking lot||Free parking is provided (400 cars)|
|Business hour||From June to September 08:30-18:00, from October to April 09:00-17:00|
|Regular closing day||Open year all round|
|Home page||Home page is here|
|Mapcode||305 582 354*68|
List of Accommodations
Refer to following websites for the accommodations around the Abashiri Prison Museum. You can get information regarding online reviews and photos.
|Onsen Ryokan Motoyoshi(温泉旅館もとよし)||
|Abashiri Kanko Hotel(網走観光ホテル)|
|Hokuten-no-Oka Abashiriko Tsuruga Resort(北天の丘 あばしり湖 鶴雅リゾート)|
|Auberge Kita-no-Dan-Dan(オーベルジュ 北の暖暖)|
|Tento-no-Sato Hotel Honjin Abashiriko(天都の郷 ホテル本陣網走湖)|
|Pension Wani-no-Ie(ペンション わにの家)|
A page of Abashiri is here