As Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk is located far from the water, the local climate differs from the maritime climate, resembling rather the continental type, with hot summers and cold winters. In the summer months, the city is frequently covered in a thick mist, while in the cold season a fog often rolls over the streets.
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk was founded in 1882 as a settlement of convicts called Vladimirovka. From 1905 to 1945, it was taken over by Japan and renamed Toyohara, meaning 'bountiful plain'. The city was built according to a grid plan, with a rail road and the streets running either parallel or perpendicular to the tracks. The principle was borrowed from Chicago by Toyohara's urban planner Ryosuke Sekiya who studied at a Japanese university where there were many American lecturers at the time. The city was divided into four parts by two main streets, Odori (now Lenina) and Maoka Dori (now Sakhalinskaya). The Japanese urban planning is still preserved.
Sakhalin Regional Museum
The Sakhalin Regional Museum is the best starting point for visiting the city. Out of all the Japanese buildings in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, this one in the traditional architectural style called teikan yoshiki or the Imperial Crown Style is the best preserved. The museum features expositions dedicated to Sakhalin's indigenous peoples, ancient cultures, the discovery of the islands, the Karafuto Prefecture period and the postwar era. The building is surrounded by a cosy Japanese-style park with fountains and ponds.
Address: 29 Kommunisticheskiy Prospekt
Telephone: +7 (4242) 72-75-55, +7 (4242) 50-50-51
Working hours: Tue–Fri 10 am–6 pm, Sat 11 am–8 pm, Sun 11 am–8 pm, Mon – day off
Sakhalin Regional Art Museum
In addition to the Sakhalin Regional Museum, the former Hokkaido Takushoku Bank building is also well-preserved. It now houses the Sakhalin Regional Art Museum. Constructed in the early 1930s, the building was renovated in the 1980s and handed over to the museum. The museum collection features works of art of different eras from Russia, Korea, Japan and China as well as decorative and applied art items created by the ethnic minorities of the North.
Address: 137 Lenina St
Telephone: +7 (4242) 72-36-43
Working hours: Tue–Sun 10 am–6 pm, Thu 10 am–8 pm, Mon, day off
The city park was created in the early 20th century during the Karafuto Prefecture period. With its paths taking visitors to the most picturesque corners, the park still preserves many landscape features of a Japanese-style garden. In addition to the lake and a Sakura (cherry blossom) alley, there are sports and playgrounds. One of the most curious sights here is the children's railway, in operation since the middle of the 20th century. A diesel locomotive with four passenger carriages runs along a two-metre ring with two stations and bridges. Supervised by adults, children operate the railway themselves, trying on various roles such as train drivers, conductors, duty officers, announcers and signallers. Not far from the park is the Sakhalin Botanical Garden which in addition to plants features many animals included in the Red List of Threatened Species.
Address: 1 Detskaya St
Telephone: +7 (4242) 42-44-64
Working hours: Mon–Fri 8 am–9 pm
International Chekhov Theatre Centre
The International Chekhov Theatre Centre, or Chekhov Centre, is the island's main drama stage. It offers a variety of productions, including children's plays. Productions of Chekhov's plays are also on the bill. There is the Chekhov Park near the theatre, featuring sculptured characters from the works of the writer who once made Sakhalin famous. Among the metal statues are the Lady with the Dog, Kashtanka, Clown Mr Georges and Fat and Thin.
Address: 35 Kommunisticheskiy Prospekt
Telephone: +7 (4242) 72-72-80, +7 (4242) 72-72-79
Museum of Chekhov's Sakhalin Island
Not far from the theatre and the park is yet another landmark, the Literary and Art Museum of Chekhov's Sakhalin Island. The main exposition is dedicated to the writer's trip to the land of 'intolerable suffering'. The museum displays installations from the life of convicts: wax figures dressed in historical costumes sit, sleep and play cards. Besides, there is an installation of a tunnel built by convicts at Cape Jonquiere. Here, you will find various editions of Chekhov's Sakhalin Island as well as his personal belongings. You can also watch a film about the convicts' island. The museum also hosts literary readings, temporary exhibitions and theatrical productions.
Address: 104 Prospekt Mira
Telephone: +7 (4242) 43-66-36, +7 (4242) 43-67-74
Working hours: Tue–Wed 10 am–6 pm, Thu–Fri 10 am–7 pm, Sat–Sun 11 am–6 pm, Mon, day off
The memorial complex on Ploshchad Slavy is dedicated to various battles throughout history. The eternal flame, a bronze statue of a soldier and two sailors honour those who died fighting for the liberation of South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands in 1945. The Alley of Heroes features busts of 14 Heroes of the Soviet Union. A touching statue of a grieving mother reminds us of the citizens of Sakhalin who died in the Afghan and the Chechen Wars. The Square also houses a picturesque park with a collection of military hardware, including guns, tanks and howitzers.
Museum and Memorial Victory Complex
The Complex consists of a square and a five-storey museum building. It features exhibit halls dedicated to the 1904–1905 Russo–Japanese War and World War II. One of the most interesting expositions is a panorama called the Landing on Shumshu: The Last Island of the War. Its entrance is fashioned after a burnt bunker. Visitors are able to witness this bloody battle that took place in August 1945 (in Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands, the war did not end in May 1945). The exposition features personal belongings of soldiers that were found on Shumshu.
Address: 1 Prospekt Pobedy
Telephone: +7 (4242) 49-57-42
Working hours: Tue–Thu, Sun 11 am–6 pm, Fri 11 am–8 pm, Sat–Sun 11 am–7 pm, Mon, day off
Sobor Rozhdestva Khristova (Cathedral of the Nativity)
Next to the memorial complex is the city's new cathedral. Following the Novgorod architectural traditions, the cathedral has become one of the largest in the Russian Far East. The central entrance is decorated with a mosaic depicting Jesus Christ which was created in Jerusalem. The cathedral features stained-glass windows with a total area of 200 m² and a 6,700 kg main church bell.
Address: 1 Ilariona Troitskogo St
Telephone: +7 (984) 135-14-01
Working hours: Mon–Sun 7.30 am–7.00 pm
Visible from almost any point in the capital of the island, the Gornyy Vozdukh ski resort is located on Bolshevik Mountain. The ski resort is open all year round: in the winter the slopes are occupied by skiers and snowboarders, while in the summer it is nice taking a walk along one of the eco-paths. The summits offer excellent panoramic views of the city.
Address: Building V, Gornyy Vozdukh St
Telephone: +7 (4242) 51-11-20
Museum of the History of the Sakhalin Railway
Museum of the History of the Sakhalin Railway is located next to the Railway Station. Here, visitors can find a cross section of a railway track, track monitoring devices, uniforms of train drivers and station masters as well as Japanese maps of Sakhalin. The museum's courtyard houses Japanese and Soviet diesel locomotives, railway carriages, tanks, repair equipment, a steam excavator and different types of snowploughs (in the winter, snowdrifts can be huge in Sakhalin).
Address: 55 Vokzalnaya St
Telephone: +7 (4242) 71-41-97
Working hours: Mon–Fri 8.30 am–5.30 pm, Sat, Sun, days off