In 1881, according to the following instructions from Mr.Hirofumi ITO, the 1st prime minister of Japan, the 1st prison in Hokkaido was constructed here in Tsukigata Town.
①Make dangerous cons that stand against the Meiji Restrated Power isolated to keep public peace in rest of Japan.
②Make those cons develope this “barbarian” island at a small cost.
③Make those “reformed” criminals continue to live in Hokkaido to let it grow in population.
(1)Tsukigata Kabato Museum
As the result of above, this area was chosen as the place for a prison due to this place’s geographical merit – a long range of mountains back and huge Ishikari river forward precludes prisoners from escaping away-, and there was fertile field to develope along the river. Now the main building of this former prison has been converted to a museum.
Picture is prohibited but few places. One of the exceptions is this master’s room.
Exit to toilet at right side of the wall doubled as the escape route. In that era prisoners had NO rights. A senior goverment official said openly “Even if one prisoner would die, that would reduce the cost for them only”. National Route 12 that connects Sapporo and Asahikawa, and 39, Asahikawa and Abashiri, most important lines in Hokkaido still now were originally constructed by their hard work.
Portrait of the 1st master of this prison, Mr.Kiyoshi TSUKIGATA. This town is named after his surname.
(2)Avenue of cedars planted by prisoners
These cedars ware brought from Aomori pref. These trees made prisoners recall their homelands, so this work was popular among them.
The main building of this temple was also constructed by prisoners.
Recently one block of this huge cemetary was opened for the graves of prisoners those who had passed away here.
While this prison was operated from 1881 to 1919, 1,046 prisoners have died in total. COD is as follows. 804 by Acute heart attack, 60 by debilitation, 41 by punishment, and 33 by accident at work.
These figures obviously tell the circumstances of prisoners at that era. Only 24 bodies from 1,046 were collected by their families. The rest have been kept unclaimed.
The local people started to construct graves for each of them in 1981 to thank them those who had literally dedicated their lives to develope here, and Hokkaido.
This grave says he died in aged 24 only.
(5)Deserted Houses in Tsukigata Town