Ryuhyo Drift Ice

Spectacular drift ice at Hokkaido’s northern frontier

Hokkaido, the northernmost island of japan, is known for its stunning natural beauty and unique attractions. One of the most incredible natural phenomena that can be witnessed in Hokkaido is the Ryuhyo drift ice of the Okhotsk Sea. Stretching all the way to Siberia, the drift ice grips Hokkaido’s northern coast in a deep freeze for much of winter, creating a breathtaking spectacle that attracts visitors from all over the world.

The Ryuhyo drift ice can be seen from many points along the Okhotsk Sea, offering different perspectives and experiences. From mid-January to late March, the ice covers the sea, turning it into a winter wonderland. The sight of the ice stretching as far as the eye can see is truly awe-inspiring. Visitors can witness this extraordinary natural phenomenon and experience it up close in a variety of fascinating ways.

One of the best and easiest ways to experience the drift ice is on an icebreaker ship. These specially designed ships allow visitors to navigate through the icy waters and get a close-up view of the magnificent ice formations. Icebreaker cruises are available from Abashiri and Monbetsu, two cities located along Hokkaido’s northern coast. On these cruises, visitors can witness the sheer power of nature as the ship breaks through the thick ice, creating a path for exploration. Along the way, keep an eye out for Steller’s sea eagles and seals, which can often be spotted in the area.

For those looking for a different perspective, a sightseeing cruise from Rausu into the Nemuro Strait is an attractive option. This cruise offers panoramic views of the drift ice as it flows into the strait from the Okhotsk Sea. The sight of the ice floating in the turquoise waters is truly mesmerizing. Binoculars are recommended to get a closer look at the wildlife that inhabits the area.

If you prefer to stay on land and admire the beauty of the drift ice at your own pace, a train ride on the Ryuhyo-Monogatari train is highly recommended. This train runs along the coastline from Abashiri to Shiretoko-Shari, offering stunning views of the ice-covered sea. The train’s large windows provide an unobstructed view of the scenery, allowing passengers to fully appreciate the beauty of the drift ice.

For the more adventurous travelers, there are opportunities to engage with the drift ice in a more immersive way. In the town of Utoro, located near Shiretoko National Park, visitors can participate in activities such as ice drift walks, swims, and even scuba diving. These activities allow you to experience the icy landscape in a unique and thrilling way. However, it is important to note that these activities should only be undertaken with the guidance of experienced professionals.

To gain a deeper understanding of the science behind the drift ice, a visit to the Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum in Abashiri is highly recommended. The museum provides insights into the formation and movement of the ice, as well as the flora and fauna that thrive in this harsh environment. Interactive exhibits and informative displays make learning about the drift ice an engaging and educational experience.

Hokkaido is the southernmost point in the Northern Hemisphere where drift ice can be observed. The drift ice begins its journey from the Amur River on the Russian-Chinese border, freezing on top of denser seawater. It then travels south on winds and ocean currents, eventually reaching the coast of Hokkaido. This unique natural phenomenon is a testament to the power and beauty of nature.

Getting to Hokkaido and the drift ice is relatively easy. Monbetsu Airport, Memanbetsu Airport (for Abashiri), and Nakashibetsu Airport (for Rausu) all offer direct flights from Tokyo and Sapporo. From these airports, transportation options are available to reach the respective cities. For example, from Memanbetsu Airport, a limousine bus takes visitors to Abashiri Bus Terminal, and from there, a bus to the Aurora icebreaking ship. Similar transportation options are available for other airports as well.

For those traveling from Sapporo, a bus journey to Monbetsu or Abashiri takes about six hours, while a trip to Nakashibetsu takes approximately 7.5 hours. These bus journeys offer an opportunity to enjoy the scenic landscapes of Hokkaido along the way.

It is important to note that the information provided here may be subject to change due to COVID-19. It is advisable to check the latest travel advisories and guidelines before planning a trip to Hokkaido.

In conclusion, the Ryuhyo drift ice of Hokkaido’s northern coast is a truly spectacular natural phenomenon that should not be missed. From the vantage points along the Okhotsk Sea, visitors can witness the beauty and power of the drift ice up close. Whether on an icebreaker ship, a sightseeing cruise, or a train ride, the experience of being surrounded by the icy landscape is truly unforgettable. For those seeking a more adventurous experience, activities such as ice drift walks and swims provide a unique opportunity to engage with the drift ice. The Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum offers a deeper understanding of the science behind the drift ice and its ecological significance. Hokkaido’s drift ice is a testament to the wonders of nature and a must-see attraction for any nature lover or adventure seeker.

Address And Maps Location:

4-5-1 Minami 3-jo Higashi, Abashiri-shi, Hokkaido

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