First Day of Drift Ice in Hokkaido

Hokkaido is the world’s furthest southern area where drift ice (ryuhyo) reaches the seashore. From around early February, drift ice floes start arriving on the Hokkaido shores of the Sea of Okhotsk — gradually nearing Monbetsu and Abashiri, moving around the Shiretoko Peninsula, and eventually reaching the shore of Rausu.

On the Monbetsu seashore, the furthest northern point in Hokkaido for drift ice observation, you can encounter an entirely frozen seascape. At Rausu and Nemuro to the south of Shiretoko, drift ice can sometimes be observed in April, and the floes are smaller.

During drift ice season, ice-breaking ships take tourists through the Sea of Okhotsk while knocking ice out of their paths. The boats can break through ice up to about 80 centimeters thick.