10 Best Things to do in Abashiri | Japan

10 Best Things to do in Abashiri

Abashiri is a city in the most northern region of Japan. So, many aspects of their culture can feel different from the other regions of the country. It is quite famous for the cold winters. Look at the 10 best things to do!

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10 Best Things to do in Abashiri | Japan

1. Tour the Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples

Tour the Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples | 10 Best Things to do in Abashiri
Source: commons.wikimedia.org

The Museum of Northern Peoples is famous because it tells the story of individuals living in the greater northern regions. These regions are the home of the Ainu native group. If you are eager to learn about the Ainu culture, then a visit to this museum is a necessity. Additionally, there are galleries devoted to other groups like the Canadian Inuit.

There are photos of these communities in the museum including mementos mostly of hunting equipment and seal intestine.

2. Visit Lake Notoro

Visit Lake Notoro | 10 Best Things to do in Abashiri
Source: livingnomads.com

People visit Abashiri to see lake Notoro. It is a prime attraction of the town and the best time to visit the lake is in September as it will remain filled with glasswort. The glasswort turns the lake’s surface into a crimson color when it blossoms.

There is a channel of Lake Notoro leading out to the Okhotsk Sea. It is important to note that Notoro is a saltwater lake. So, you can find a wide variety of delicious seafood in the lake. You may even dig for clams starting from April and lasting till September.

3. Exploring the Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum

Exploring the Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum | 10 Best Things to do in Abashiri
Source: matcha-jp.com

Do you know how pack ice was found in the Okhotsk Sea? Well, you can learn every detail of this amazing story by visiting the Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum. The museum lets its visitors touch a few of the exhibitions. There is a freezer room inside the museum which you can enter to touch pack ice.

When you step into the room, you will need to wear a huge winter coat. The reason why you have to wear such a coat is because temperature is kept at -15 degrees Celsius.

4. Tour the Lake Abashiri

Tour the Lake Abashiri | 10 Best Things to do in Abashiri
Source: commons.wikimedia.org

This lake belongs to the greater Abashiri Quasi-National Park. The view surrounding the lake is incredibly beautiful. What makes the lake so well-known is the resident swans, swimming around as though they are royalty.

You can visit the lake during the winter but, you cannot enjoy its regular beauty as the lake is engulfed by ice from December. It lasts till April and then people usually opt for ice fishing.

5. Visit the Abashiri Prison Museum

Visit the Abashiri Prison Museum
Source: flickr.com/balbo42

As soon as you step foot inside Abashiri, you will get to hear about the Prison Museum. Back in the day, it was a place to send criminals to reform them. The criminals had to toil hard and a lot of the prisoners were responsible for building Hokkaido’s foundation. There are structures in this region dating back to the Meiji Period.

The visitors are given the chance to take a stroll around. You are going to come across various models that remain chained to actual shackles. The shackles you will see are the same ones prisoners were made to wear during that phase. You will find relics and galleries containing the historical details of this structure in the museum.

However, the museum has some grueling displays. So, if you bring children along it would be highly appropriate for them.

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6. Smelt fishing

Smelt fishing
Source: en.activityjapan.com

When winter arrives in Abashiri, it becomes the perfect place to try smelt fishing. It is a very unique activity to do in Abashiri. In this case, you need to make a hole in the ice of a frozen lake. Once you have made the hole, it is time to fish straight through that hole.

You will have to catch a fish at first and then barbecue it. The fish you catch is as fresh as you will ever get in a lifetime.

7. Ride the Icebreaker Aurora

Ride the Icebreaker Aurora
Source: flickr.com/Agustin Rafael Reyes

It is common knowledge that pack ice is abundant in Abashiri. You can find them in the harbor during the winter. The pack-ice makes it hard to move around unless you have an ice-breaking equipment. Ice breakers can steam through frozen lakes.

You need to find an Icebreaker Aurora, for it is the best in the business. It is capable of easily slicing through without taking much of an effort. Visitors can hop on the Icebreaker Aurora to enjoy an hour-long tour of the harbor. During the ride, you can watch the ice splinter and enjoy the scenic view over the bay.

8. Drinking at Abashiri Biru-kan

Drinking at Abashiri Biru-kan
Source: abakanko.jp

In a region as cold as Abashiri, it is natural for people to consume alcoholic beverages. These drinks are what help people to stay warm when the night is long and wintry. Some of the drinks that are famous in this region are the sake, beer, etc. If you are looking for something to drink then visit the Abashiri Beer.

Abashiri Beer is quite famous for a drink called Ryuhyo. The components of this drink are drift ice that is melted only to mix with sea algae. As a result, you have a drink that appears to be an interesting shade of blue.

9. Horse riding

Horse riding
Source: best.visit-hokkaido.jp

When visitors become tired of usual activities among the 10 best things to do in Abashiri, they go horse riding. During the winter, you can rent a horse for trekking through the Okhotsk Sea which remains frozen. When summer comes, you can go for a horse ride over the rolling hills.

The rolling hills are full of marigolds and several other colorful plants.

10. Watch birds at Lake Tofutsu

Watch birds at Lake Tofutsu
Source: zekkeijapan.com

Bird watching is a relaxing activity that you can engage in at Lake Tofutsu. This lake is situated in Abashiri and the part of some wetlands. You can check out more than 250 species of birds living in the wetlands. The best time to visit the lake is during spring.

In this period, you will be able to observe swans swimming gracefully on the surface of the lake.


To conclude, you can expect to be amazed by the things to do in Abashiri. At the end of your trip, make sure to collect some souvenirs.

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