How to Enjoy Drift Ice in Abashiri, The one-of-a-kind winter scenery you absolutely must see in the world

Have you seen Drift Ice?

You can see drift ice in Abashiri from late January to March. This is the one-of-a-kind winter scenery you absolutely must see in the world.

Where does the drift ice come from?

Where does the drift ice in the Sea of Okhotsk, as seen in Abashiri and Monbetsu, come from?

Recent research has shown that the ice forms in the northeastern sea of Sakhalin and drifts southward, eventually reaching Hokkaido.

Furthermore, satellite observations have revealed that thin ice continually forms along the northern coast of the Sea of Okhotsk and is then carried south by cold northerly winds from Siberia.

As the thin ice drifts across the Sea of Okhotsk, it thickens and grows, becoming quite thick by the time it reaches Hokkaido.

The Sea of Okhotsk is surrounded by unique geography, extreme differences in salinity, and cold winds from Siberia. Due to the combination of these three conditions, drift ice washes up on Hokkaido every winter.

The Sea of Okhotsk marks the southern boundary of drift ice, with its southernmost reaches extending to places like Abashiri and Monbetsu in Hokkaido.

The convergence of several natural conditions creates the miraculous phenomenon of drift ice being visible even in Japan.

Enjoy Drift Ice on the AURORA in Abashiri

The timing to enjoy drift ice depends on the weather conditions of each year, but it seems that in 2024, it was possible to enjoy from the end of January until March. We took a drift ice sightseeing cruise on the Aurora in Abashiri on March 23, 2024.

Despite living in Hokkaido for over 60 years, this boat ride was actually my first experience in Abashiri.

What a clear and calm weather, making it the perfect day for drift ice sightseeing. We’re very lucky.

Being able to see such magnificent drift ice is unique to towns along the Sea of Okhotsk in Hokkaido. This scenery is exclusive to this region, and being able to witness this wonderful drift ice from a special boat that can break through the ice is truly miraculous.

This sight is something everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. While there are rare sights to be seen all over the world, this is truly one of them.

Where and How to ride on AURORA

Timetable and Fee

The ship only departs when the drift ice is nearby and a certain number of passengers have been reached, so it is necessary to check the website for updates.

See the page below.