Brickwork Punishment Chamber

  • Rebuilt at a new location
  • Construction: 1912
  • Reconstruction: 1991
  • Floor area: 10m²
In the last years of the Meiji era (1868-1912), Abashiri Prison began to accept inmates with brick-making skills from prisons on Honshu (the main island of Japan). The bricks fired by these inmates were used to build walls, gates, storehouses, solitary confinement chambers and other facilities.
The solitary confinement chamber shown in the photo has double doors and no windows. The brick walls are more than 40cm thick. With changes in the prison rules, the name of the solitary chamber changed from “punitive chamber” to “disciplinary chamber” and then to “protective chamber”.
In the Meiji era, prison rules specified that any inmate who broke the rules should suffer the stiff penalties of confinement in a dark, windowless room, reduced meals and self-reflection. The solitary confinement chamber shown in the photo is likely to have been built to comply with the rules of the Meiji era.