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Winter must in Hokkaido "Ice Floe"! Let's experience the mystical sea of Okhotsk

Ice floes are created from the flowing fresh water of Amur river located between China and Russia. These water freeze and enter into the sea and grows as it flows towards Okhotsk. At first sighting ice floes look far and small, however as day go by the ice grows and arrives on the coast line of Monbetsu and Shiretoko. With this it brings animals to Okhotsk including; sea angel, seals, ezo fox and deer.
(Updated on: Mar 24, 2017)

When you plan your visit, please be aware ice floe sighting is very weather dependent. Upon strong winds on the day, ice floe will be blown away from the coast line and every year the ice floe arrival and departure period is different, so please check before you visit. Approx from end of Jan to late March is said to be the time when ice floe sighting will occur in Monbetsu and Abashiri.
Okhotsk is connected to Monbetsu coastline and around the time of ice floe the sea will be filled with white. It is just as great watching these ice from the coastline, however board the Archimedes screw ferry "Garinko" to adventure into the world of ice. You will be able to get up and close to the seals resting on the ice and look in the sky where sea eagles fly above. This can only be experienced when you board "Garinko" ferry.
When ice floe has not reached the coastline, the ferry will take you out to the sea where the ice floe can be located. Garinko ferry moves through the ice making a distinct sound, which will make you forget about the cold and dive yourself into the surrounding natural world. When you spot a seal taking a nap on the ice, it will sure to excite you. It is said this area is the most southern part in the world for ice floe sighting.
Access: 2 hour drive from Memanbetsu airport or 12 minutes bus ride from Okhotsk Monbetsu airport
Garinko ferry fee: Adult 3000 yen, Child 1500 yen *Only by booking (please remember to book before the visit)
1 Kaiyōkōen, Monbetsu-shi, Hokkaidō 094-0031
Other then Monbetsu you can also see the ice floe at Abashiri, which has "Aurora" ship traveling out to the sea. Do you know the Japanese Antartic expedition ship "Shirase"? This ship is similar in weight and design, it travels through the icy ocean by smashing the ice floe - just like the expedition ship. Compared to the ferry at Monbetsu there will be no ice crackling noise, but you will sure to feel the ice being smashed while on board.
To feel as though you are on a expedition to the Antartic - "Aurora" is the ship to board. Like on "Garinko" ferry you will also have the chance to meet the seal and sea eagle. Come and experience this unique adventure which you can only do in Okhotsk.
Access: 10 min by direct bus from Abashiri station
"Aurora" ship fee: Adult 3300 yen/ Primary school students 1650 yen
Abashiri | 4 Chome-5-1 Minami 3 Jōhigashi, Abashiri-shi, Hokkaidō 093-0003
Apart from the ferry, there are other areas which you can enjoy the ice floe. Nearby Omusaro Nature park there is cape ice floe which you are able to see the ice floe up and close. Also in Monbetsu, if you visit the Okhotsk tower you might be able to meet the sea angel. Next, Kitahama station which is 20m from the sea, you will be able to see the ice floe from the platform! At Oronko rock of Utoro port there is an ice floe walking tour! Also the view from Futorei tower is just as superb.
Winter must in Hokkaido "Ice Floe"! Let's experience the mystical sea of Okhotsk
Every year Monbetsu holds Ice Floe festival, where the area becomes an ice museum. By using natural ice, sculptures are made and will immerse you to the winter wonderland. During the day sunlight beams through the clear ice giving it's crystal spark, and at night sculptures are lit up creating a romantic atmosphere. Also at the festival there are slides made from natural ice which are popular too.
Kitami-Monbetsu | Kaiyokoen, Monbetsu, Hokkaido Prefecture 094-0031
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Translated by talkinKaeru