Abashiri (網走市) is the historical and cultural heart of Okhotsk Region. In 1890 the town has set up the prison for dissidents, political prisoners and criminals. They spent in the solitary confinement and worked for the road construction. The town has varied museums, lakes and places to stay, which makes it an ideal place for explore. In winter most tourists take an drift icebreaker cruises into the frozen sea. You can jump off from here to the Shiretoko Peninsula or Saroma-ko.

On the southwestern of Abashiri, Tento-zan (天都山: 207m) has panoramic views over the city, ocean, lakes and the Shiretoko Mountains. There are Abashiri’s ‘must see’ sights around here.

Points of interests in Abashiri

Getting There & Around

From Abashiri bus terminal via JR Abashiri Station, the tourist attractions sightseeing bus (1-day pass ¥800) runs to the Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples (18min; ¥420) via the Okhotsk Ryuhyokan.

From 20 July to 8 October, buses continue to the Hana Tento hillside flower garden.

In winter buses run from and to the Michi-no-eki Ryuhyo Kaido Abashiri (道の駅流氷街道網走) at the drift ice cruise terminal.

Abashiri Prison Museum

This open-air museum (博物館網走監獄) has 25 historical and reconstructed buildings from Abashiri Prison, that includes wooden prison houses, a courthouse, administration building, lecture hall and bathhouse. The penological museum shows a virtual movie, with old artefacts and a reproduced present isolation cell.

Inside the 1896 cafeteria (食堂: 10am-3.30pm Apr-Sep & Feb-Mar), you can try the kangoku-shoku (監獄食: present prison meals).

More info www.kangoku.jp

Okhotsk Ryuhyokan

(オホーツク流氷館) On the summit of Tento-zan, the Okhotsk Ryuhokan offers informative exhibits of real sea ice and local fishes, with a dramatic film. There is an observation deck on the top floor with breathtaking views over the ocean. There is also a scenic cafe-restaurant.

More info www.ryuhyokan.com

Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples

(北海道立北方民族博物館) About a 10-minute walk from the Ryuhyokan, this well-presented museum focuses on native northern people around the world, including Ainu, Nivkh, Russia, Scandinavia and Alaska. Exhibits include cloths, artefacts, languages, hunting tools and the Okhotsk Culture. You can rent a free audio guide.

More info hoppohm.org

Abashiri Municipal Museum

(網走市立郷土博物館) Located in an imposing 1936 building (designed by Tanoue Yoshiya) on the old Ainu fort, this municipal museum traces local history with an engaging mix of cultural artefacts from the Paleolithic Age, 300 species of birds and staffed local animals.

More info www.city.abashiri.hokkaido.jp/270kyoiku

Moyoro Shell Mound Museum

(モヨロ貝塚館) On the mouth of Abashiri-gawa, Moyoro was a site of fishing settlement about 1300 years ago. This museum has archaeological finds, shell mounds, a cemetery and an exhibit on the history of the Okhotsk Culture (5th- to 9th-century). There are also sites of dwellings and cemeteries on the ground. It is about a 10-minute walk from Abashiri bus terminal.

More info moyoro.jp

Abashiri Municipal Art Museum

(網走市立美術館) The city’s art museum presents collection of local art and paintings such as Igushi Kaichi (1911-1955). Temporary exhibits change every months.