Abashiri

Abashiri is a small city located on the northeastern shore of Hokkaido. To the Japanese, Abashiri is as synonymous with the word prison, as Alkatraz is to Americans. Only the most hardened criminals, including many Yakuza (Japanese organized crime families) were sent here. The prison is still in use, and a museum was constructed nearby chronicling the history and the living conditions of the prison. 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.