Hokkaido is the coldest prefecture in Japan, and several kinds of spectacular winter phenomena and scenery can be captured in this northernmost land during the winter. The drift ice (ryuhyo) is one of them. The Sea of Okhotsk, along Abashiri City, Hokkaido, is known as the southernmost point to see drifting sea ice just like in the Arctic.
Visitors can take the ice breaker sightseeing ship and watch the dynamic drift ice in close for the limited time of the year.
The Sea of Okhotsk has a very interesting history and relation to Japan. With the exception of Hokkaido, the sea is surrounded on all sides by territory administered by the Russian Federation. In the Japanese language, the sea has no traditional Japanese name despite its close location to the Japanese territories and is called Ohotsuku-kai (オホーツク海), which is a transcription of the Russian name. Although the sea is surrounded by Russian territory, visitors can still see the phenomenon of the drift ice from Japan. During the drift ice season from January to March (the peak is in February), draift ice-watching tours start at Abashiri and Monbetsu in Hokkaido. Abashiri can be reached in forty minutes by direct bus from Memanbetsu Airport to “Drift Ice Breaker Terminal”, or you can fly to Okhotsk Monbetsu Airport and taking a twelve-minute ride on a shuttle bus to reach Monbetsu City.
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