To the Japanese, Abashiri (網走) is as synonymous with the word 'prison' as Alcatraz is to Americans – the mere mention can send a chill, implying gruelling punishment, harsh treatment, and hopelessness. Winters here are harsh, too: Abashiri is also known for its frozen seas, which can be explored on ice-breakers. Throughout the warmer months, the city serves as a jumping-off point for both Akan National Park and Shiretoko National Park.
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