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Drift Ice Spots and Drift Ice Cruising in Hokkaido

May 26th, 2013

Drift Ice Spots and Drift Ice Cruise

In Japan, Drift ice appears only from January to March, and can be enjoyed only along the Sea of Okhotsk and a part of Pacific Ocean. The sea is covered with the drift ice from the shoreline of Monbetsu to Shiretoko Peninsula, and it is amazing view! It may be said that you must see the amazing view once. Hokkaido has 3 towns called "Monbetsu", Monbetsu (紋別) along the sea of the Okhotsk, Date Monbetsu (伊達紋別) along the Pacific Ocean and Monbetsu (門別) along the Pacific Ocean. In those Monbetsu, a place to view the drift ice is the Monbetsu (紋別) along the sea of the Okhotsk, and the Monbetsu, Abashiri (網走), Koshimizu (小清水), Shari (斜里) and Rausu (羅臼) have some drift ice spots. Tourists can enjoy the drift ice on the shore, and also enjoy it as the drift ice cruise on the sea. Unfortunately, global warming cause decreasing the drift ice recently, but you may see wild animals such as Earless Seal and Steller's Sea-eagle on the drift ice if you are lucky.

Drift Ice
Drift Ice and Aurirago Cruising in Abashiri

As for the drift ice, a cold front with a low of -40 degrees celsius blows from Siberia to Hokkaido in a winter, and ice born in Amur River is drifted to the Sea of the Okhotsk by the wind. Shiretoko Peninsula just plays a role as the net, and the sea is covered with the drift ice closely from the offing Of Abashiri to the Shiretoko peninsula. I thought that all the drift ice was born in Russia. But a chief engineer of the Garinko-go2 said "The water of the Amur River flows into the Sea of the Okhotsk, and seawater keeps on separating from freshwater for a period of time, and the concentration of salt in a part of freshwater lowers. Therefore, the seawater of the Sea of the Okhotsk freezes at -1.8 degrees celsius, and the drift ice forms ice in the Okhotsk".

Sheet of Drift Ice Zone
Drift Ice and Garinkogo2 in Monbetsu

Around the Sea of the Okhotsk, frozen river ice in the Amur River, Russia can be enjoyed, and frozen river ice in Tokachi River (十勝川), Japan can be enjoyed as well as the drift ice, too. It is Toyokoro (豊頃) facing Pacific Ocean. The river ice called "Jewelry Ice" is washed ashore on the sandy beach, and become a popular tourist attraction as a photogenic place. States of the ice are difference, and the drift ice looks whitish, and the Jewelry Ice looks clear. It is the same as the river ice, and I wonder why those were different. Maybe it is mystery of nature.

Jewelry Ice
Jewelry Ice in Toyokoro

Jewelry Ice

Jewelry Ice is ice on Otsu Beach (大津海岸) in Toyokoro town located in the southeast part of Obihiro city, and was named by Mr. Hisashi Urashima (浦島久), a school principal of an english school, because it looked like a beautiful jewery. Water of Tokachi River is frozen, and river ice flows to the sea, and is washed ashore on the sandy beach at the mouth of the river. Here is well-known for a shooting place for a work of Mr. Mitsuhiko Kamata (鎌田光彦), a famous photographer. Clear ice polished by the waves is beautiful, so here becomes a popular shooting place. It was featured by the New York Times, and attracts the world's attention. This splendid scenery can be seen in a cold winter, about from mid January to early March. Article is here

Jewelry Ice Is Collected on Beach
Jewelry Ice in Toyokoro

Drift Ice Cruise

Drift ice cruise is held in the Abashiri, the Monbetsu and the Rausu. In the Abashiri and the Monbetsu, the tourists can take part in the drift ice cruise on relatively large ships, and the tourists can take a leisure boat in the Rausu. As for the Rausu side, the tourists must wait till the drift ice coming. By the way, the differences between Aurorago (おーろら号) and Garinkogo2 (ガリンコ号Ⅱ) are a method of breaking ice and a swing of the ships according to the size of the ship. But All the tourists have to do is take medication for motion sickness.

Aurorago2
Drift Ice and Aurirago Cruising in Abashiri
Drift Ice Breaker Garinkogo2
Drift Ice and Garinkogo2 in Monbetsu

Drift Ice and Aurora-go Cruise in Abashiri

There are 2 sightseeing spots that tourists can enjoy the scheduled drift ice cruising in Japan. Abashiri in the northeast of the Hokkaido faces the Sea of Okhotsk, and is one of the sightseeing spots for drift ice cruising. Drift ice drifts to the offing of Abashiri around mid January. If common ships collide with the drift ice, those are broken, but Drift Ice Icebreaker Aurorago (流氷観光砕氷船おーろら号) and Aurorago2 (おーろらⅡ号) that can break the drift ice zone with the weight of themselves go into service. A lot of tourists visit here to see the drift ice from mid January to early April. The drift ice icebreaker Aurorago and Aurorago2 go into service from 2 to 5 each day, and cruising time is around 60 minutes. The tourists can get aboard a ship at the roadside station "Ryuhyo Kaido Abashiri (流氷街道網走)". Article is here

Frozen World
Drift Ice and Aurirago Cruising in Abashiri

Drift Ice and Garinkogo2 Cruise in Monbetsu

There are 2 sightseeing spots that tourists can enjoy the scheduled drift ice cruising in Japan. Monbetsu in the northeast of the Hokkaido faces the Sea of Okhotsk, and is one of the sightseeing spots for drift ice cruising. Drift ice drifts to the offing of Monbetsu around mid January. If common ships collide with the drift ice, those are broken, but Drift Ice Icebreaker Garinkogo2 (流氷砕氷船ガリンコ号Ⅱ) that can break the drift ice zone goes into service. A lot of tourists visit here to see the drift ice from early January to late March. The drift ice icebreaker Garinkogo2 goes into service from 5 to 7 each day, and cruising time is around 60 minutes. The tourists can get aboard a ship at Kaiyokoryukan boarding point (海洋交流館). Article is here

Sea Is Covered with Drift Ice
Drift Ice and Garinkogo2 in Monbetsu

Drift Ice and Drift Ice Cruise in Rausu

Some activity companies accept the drift ice cruise at the Rausu side that a port is hard to be covered with the drift ice. The activity is popular with photographers because the drift ice with the White-tailed Eagle, the Steller's Sea Eagle and Earless Seal can be taken a photo. The tourists can take on a cruise ship, because the ship is not large, it may be powerful.

Atmosphere of Drift Ice Cruise in Rausu Can Be Watched on Youtube

Movie of Drift Ice Cruise in Rausu

Drift Ice Viewing Spots

There are some viewing spots for the drift ice along the Okhotsk coast. My visited viewing spots for the drift ice is as follows.

Drift Ice from Cape Puyuni

Cape Puyuni (プユニ岬) is a cape jutting out into the Sea of Okhotsk in Shari town, Shiretoko Peninsula (知床半島), and the Puyuni means "A place with a holl" in Ainu language. Because a road to the tip of the cape is not built, visitors can not reach to there. But Puyuni-misaki Lookout (プユニ岬展望台) is about 700 m away from the tip of the cape. There is not definite lookout, and a place around Miharashi Bridge (見晴橋) along Shiretoko National Route (National Route 334) is called "the Puyuni-misaki Lookout" at about 95 m above sea level. Utoro Port and the Sea of the Okhotsk can be viewed from here, and Oronko-iwa Rock (オロンコ岩) and Godzilla-iwa Rock (ゴジラ岩) are fitted to a picture, too. This place is well known as a good place to see the sunset, and a lot of visitors come. A winter scenery that drift ice spread over the whole sea looks grand, too. A parking lot is not built, and there is much traffic, and it has a blind curve, a parking on a road shoulder may be dangerous. There is a bridge that is not used any more, the visitors can park their cars. Admission free. Article is here

Cape Puyuni in Winter
Winter Cape Puyuni, Utoro, Shiretoko National Park

Drift Ice around Cape Chashikotsusaki

Cape Chashikotsusaki (チャシコツ崎) is a small cape near Utoro, and Ainu people used to build a fort here. Rocks like a turtle is a mark on the way to the Utoro. Its height is about 50 m. The turtle surrounded by the drift ice is worth seeing. There is not a facility. Admission free. A parking lot is free of charge.

Winter Cape Chashikotsusaki
Winter Chashikotsusaki in Shari
Winter Cape Chashikotsusaki
Winter Chashikotsusaki in Shari

Atmosphere of Winter Chashikotsusaki Can Be Watched on Youtube

Movie of Winter Chashikotsusaki

Oshinkoshin Falls near Drift Ice in Winter

Oshinkoshin Falls (オシンコシンの滝) is a famous waterfall in Shari town, Shiretoko Peninsula. In a winter, the Oshinkoshin Falls is frozen, and a lot of the dirft ice come along the coast. Visitors are moved by white world covered with the drift ice. Very nice view! A parking lot is provided near the Oshinkoshin Falls, so some tourists participating in group tours take a photo. A shop is closed during the winter season. Admission free. The parking lot is free of charge.

Oshinkoshin Falls in Winter
Drift Ice, Oshinkoshin Falls, Utoro, Shiretoko National Park
Drift Ice around Oshinkoshin Falls
Drift Ice, Oshinkoshin Falls, Utoro, Shiretoko National Park
Drift Ice around Oshinkoshin Falls
Drift Ice, Oshinkoshin Falls, Utoro, Shiretoko National Park
Drift Ice around Oshinkoshin Falls
Drift Ice, Oshinkoshin Falls, Utoro, Shiretoko National Park
Some Foreign Tourists Take a Photo
Drift Ice, Oshinkoshin Falls, Utoro, Shiretoko National Park

Atmosphere of Drift Ice Can Be Watched on Youtube

Movie of Drift Ice

Drift Ice around Ryuhyo-Tenbo-Hiroba

A site of Resthouse Chippudomari (レストハウス知布泊) in Hinode district, Shari town is open to public as Ryuhyio-tenbo-hiroba (流氷展望ひろば) from early February to mid March. There is Chippudomari Fish Port under visitors's eyes, and a combination of the port and the drift ice can be enjoyed. There is not a facility except the Resthouse Chippudomari. Admission free. A parking lot is free of charge.

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Chippudomari Fish Port
Ryuhyo-Tenbo-Hiroba in Shari
View from Ryuhyo-Tenbo-Hiroba
Ryuhyo-Tenbo-Hiroba in Shari
White-Tailed Sea Eagle Is Hunting
Ryuhyo-Tenbo-Hiroba in Shari

Atmosphere of Drift Ice around Ryuhyo-Tenbo-Hiroba Can Be Watched on Youtube

Movie of Drift Ice around Ryuhyo-Tenbo-Hiroba

Drift Ice near Ikushina Primeval Flower Garden

Ikushina Primeval Flower Garden (以久科原生花園) is a nature garden facing the Sea of Okhotsk in Shari town located in the root of Shiretoko Peninsula (知床半島). The distance between Shari Station and here is about 4 km away. There are nothing around here in particular. The Ikushina means "A river through there" in Ainu language, and may pointo to Ikushina River (幾品川) near here. The primeval flower garden is a little bit unusual, and has 2 types of the nature garden, the sea side and the green belt side along the sea. In a summer, primeval flower and magnificent Shiretoko Mounain Range (知床連山) can be enjoyed, and the sea covered with drift ice can be viewed in a winter. Here is not famous, so few people visit. It may be said that here is a little-known tourist attraction. Admission free. A parking lot is free of charge, too. There are no facilities such as a restroom and a food stall. Article is here

Drift Ice near Ikushina Primeval Flower Garden in Winter
Drift Ice in Winter near Ikushina Primeval Flower Garden

Drift Ice near Kitahama Station

Kitahama Station (北浜駅) is an unmanned train station along the Senmo line (釧網線) in the southeastern part of Abashiri city, and is relatively close to Lake Tofutsu (濤沸湖), Koshimizu Primeval Flower Garden (小清水原生花園) and Lake Mokoto (藻琴湖). It is well-known as the closest station to the Sea of Okhotsk in Japan, and its distance is about 20 m from the station to a beach. The distance is about 50 m from the stataion to the sea. In a winter, the sea is covered with drift ice, so the station is popluar as the only station that the drift ice can be seen from a platform in the Japan. The small station has only a waiting room and Cafe "Teishaba" (軽食喫茶「停車場」), but it wss used as a shooting place for various movie or TV drama such as Abashiri Prison (網走番外地), The Ugly Duckling (みにくいアヒルの子) and If You Are the One, so a lot of oversea tourists come. Admission free. A free parking is free of charged. Article is here

Drift Ice and Local Train
Drift Ice and Winter Kitahama Station in Abashiri

Drift Ice and Masuura View Point Parking

Masuura View Point Parking (鱒浦ビューポイントパーキング) is a parking lot near Masuura Fishing Port (鱒浦漁港) in the Abashiri. In the winter, the drift ice crowds, and a red lighthouse surrounded by the dift ice is very good. If it is fine weather, Shiretoko Mountain Range (知床連山) can be seen. There is not a facility. Admission free. A parking lot is not free of charge.

Masuura Fishing Port Is Surrounded by Drift Ice
Drift Ice near Masuura View Point Parking in Abashiri
Drift Ice from Masuura View Point Parking
Drift Ice near Masuura View Point Parking in Abashiri

Atmosphere of Drift Ice near Masuura View Point Parking Can Be Watched on Youtube

Movie of Drift Ice near Masuura View Point Parking

Drift Ice around Cape Notoro

Cape Notoro (能取岬) is a cape beside Utsukushi-misaki Ranch (美岬牧場) in the northwestern part of Abashiri city, and is close to Lake Notoro (能取湖). Notoromisaki Lighthouse (能取岬灯台) of about 21 m height is built to keep a safe voyage on cliffs of 40-50 m height. The cape is well-known for a beautiful scenery, and The blue sky, green grass and a blue sea are comfortable in a summer, and a lot of drift ice come in a winter, and the winter view can be enjoyed. In addition, a road to the cape looks like a road to the sea, and the view is popular. A parking lot and a public restroom are on the site. Admission free. The parking lot is free of charge. The restroom is closed in the winter. Article is here

Sea Is Covered with Drift Ice
Winter Cape Notoro in Abashiri

Drift Ice near Omusaro Primeval Flower Garden Ryuhyo-misaki

Omusaro Primeval Flower Garden (オムサロ原生花園) is a nature garden in Monbetsu city located in the northeastern part of Asahikawa city, and is well-known for 1 km-length rosa rugosa colony along a beach between the Sea of Okhotsk and Okhotsk Line National Route (National Route 238). There is Ryuhyo-misaki (流氷岬 * it means "Cape Drift Ice" in Japanese) at the beach, and it is a place to see the drift ice on the sea. In addition, it also is a popular fishing spot to catch salmon. Omusaro Nature View Center (オムサロ・ネイチャー・ビューセンター) is bult at the site, and it has an observatory deck, a break place, a food stall and a restroom. Admission free. A parking lot is free of charge. Article is here

Ryuhyo-misaki in Winter
Omusaro Wild Flower Garden Ryuhyomisaki

Other Drift Ice Viewing Spots

Except my visited place, Cape Hinode (日の出岬 * La Luna) in Omu, Okhotsk Tower (オホーツクタワー) and Okhotsk Sky Tower (オホーツクスカイタワー) in the Monbetsu, Ryugudai Observation Deck (龍宮台展望台 * Ice Boom) in Yubetsu, Tentosan Observation Deck (天都山展望台) in the Abashiri, Furetoi Observation Deck (フレトイ展望台) in the Koshimizu, Furepe Falls (フレペの滝) in the Shari, Rausu Kunashiri Observation Deck (羅臼の羅臼国後展望塔) in the Rausu and Notsuke Peninsula (野付半島) in Bekkai are famous.

Movie of Drift Ice of Cape Hinode

Movie of Drift Ice of Ryugudai Observation Deck

Movie of Drift Ice of Furepe Falls

Movie of Drift Ice of Notsuke Peninsula

List of Drift Ice Activities

Speaking of drift ice activities, the drift ice cruise is most popular. In addition, Drift Ice Walk is a special program of Shiretoko Peninsula tourism. It is an activity playing the drift ice in wearing a dry suit in the sea of the Okhotsk. Tourists can enjoy an unusual enviroment with the seawater temperature 0 degrees celsius and unusual daily life. Some activity companies provide the drift ice cruise and the drift ice walk. Refer to following websites for the activity companies. You can get information regarding online reviews and photos. By the way, Drift Ice Sky Cruise is operated, too, and a special sightseeing train "Ryuhyo Monogatari Train (流氷物語号)" runs from the Abashiri Station to Sireto Shari Station.

Drift Ice Cruise

Movie of Drift Ice Cruise

Aurora-go(おーろら号)
ASOVIEW
Sotoasobi
Drift Ice Breaker Garinko-go2(流氷砕氷船 ガリンコ号Ⅱ)
ASOVIEW
Sotoasobi
Shiretoko Rausu Lincle(知床らうすリンクル)
Hamanasu(観光船はまなす)
Sotoasobi
Maruha Hourai Suisan Godzilla-iwa Tourism(丸は宝来水産ゴジラ岩観光)
ASOVIEW
Sotoasobi
Shiretoko Nature Cruise(知床ネイチャークルーズ)

Drift Ice Walk

Movie of Drift Ice Walk

Shiretoko Nature Office(知床ネイチャーオフィス)
Sotoasobi
Godzilla-iwa Tourism(ゴジラ岩観光)
Sotoasobi
Shiretoko Naturalist Association(知床ナチュラリスト協会)
ASOVIEW
Jalan

Drift Ice Sky Cruise

Movie of Drift Ice Sky Cruise

Helisys Japan(日本ヘリシス)
ASOVIEW
Sotoasobi

Ryuhyo Monogatari Train

Movie of Ryuhyo Monogatari Train

JR Hokkaido(JR北海道)
ASOVIEW
Jalan
Sotoasobi

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