Abashiri

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Hokkaido Abashiri | Prison Life in Natural Beauty

Hokkaido Abashiri | Prison Life in Natural Beauty

Abashiri is a small city located on the Okhotsk Coast of northeastern Hokkaido. To the Japanese, Abashiri is as synonymous with the word prison, as Alkatraz it to Americans. Abashiri Prison was constructed in the 1890s. Following a major modernization of the Abashiri Prison in 1984, the prison's old buildings were moved into the Abashiri Prison Museum, which opened its doors to the public in 1985. The Abashiri Prison Museum illustrates the daily life of prisoners and exhibits more than a dozen buildings and structures of the old prison, including the main prison building with its five radially constructed wings, a law court, bath house and a punishment chamber. Besides the prison museum, Abashiri is filled with beauty. In addition to an abundance of seasonal seafood available throughout the year, it is also blessed with natural beauty, such as primeval flower gardens, lakes in summer and ice floes in winter. Winters here are harsh. During the winter months, ice flows from Russia clog the northeastern shore of Hokkaido, stretching out to sea for as far as the eye can see. The most popular way with the Japanese to view the ice flows up-close is to board an ice-breaking boat. Abashiri has lots of places to enjoy: Koshimizu Gensei-kaen (wild flower preserve), where about 40 kinds of flowers bloom in spring and summer. Mt. Tento-zan in the suburbs is a great place from which to view Abashiri. In the Okhotsk Ryuhyo-kan (ice floe museum) you can see real ice floes even in the middle of summer, and experience a temperature of minus 15 degrees Celsius. Ice floes arrive in Abashiri every year in late January.


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