Abashiri Prison Museum

Abashiri, Japan

The Abashiri Prison Museum is an outdoor museum of history. Today the buildings are preserved and open to the public. Older parts of the prison were relocated to the base of Mount Tento in 1983, where they operate as the country's only prison museum.

In April 1890, the Meiji government sent over a thousand political prisoners to the isolated Abashiri village and forced them to build roads linking it to the more populous south. Abashiri Prison later became known for being a self-sufficient farming prison, and was cited as a model for others throughout Japan.

Most of the prison burned down in a 1909 fire, but it was reconstructed in 1912. It took on its current name in 1922. In 1984, the prison moved to a modern reinforced concrete complex.

Due to the 1965 film Abashiri Prison and its sequels, the prison became a popular tourist attraction. The prison is also known for its wooden nipopo (ニポポ) dolls carved by its inmates.



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Abashiri, Japan
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Founded: 1890
Category: Museums in Japan


4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

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User Reviews

Hi Person (3 years ago)
Cool place, but the dolls are very creepy. Still it's a fun learning experience learning about the life of prisoners there and it's very well built and maintained
Shalaka Manohar (4 years ago)
Very informative and amazingly well preserved. They also have all information in English. You can understand the history of Hokkaido from a different perspective here.
arbour ken (4 years ago)
The prison is actually quite nice to see especially on a nice summer day with flowers blooming and children running around. Some of the horrors are explained such as the death of almost 20% of the inmates in building the main road to Asahikawa. More than 1 death per kilometer. But most of the rest can only be guessed at. Japanese prisons even today are not nice places and are regularly condemned by Amnesty International for their abuses. One can only wonder what went on back 100 years ago.
Harald Kubota (4 years ago)
Interesting background story. Very relevant to the development and securing of Hokkaido by the Japanese. Also you can compare the old and the new prison which is quite enlightening how much has changed in 100 years.
Lola Lai (4 years ago)
It was an immensely informative, interactive and language-diverse museum. Found the history of Abashiri prison incredibly interesting and a little sad. Definitely worth the visit to educate yourself on the pioneer development of this area in Hokkaido.
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