How to enjoy Jewelry Ice in Otsu, Toyokoro, steeped in Photogenic World

The cold never bothered me anyway…

You can truly say that phrase here because you’ve stepped into a perfect, photogenic world. Despite the -15°C temperatures, you’ll be captivated by the beauty around you. Come visit Toyokoro and witness the stunning Jewelry Ice.

When can you see Jewelry Ices?

In winter, Toyokoro, located in southeastern Hokkaido, south of Obihiro, becomes increasingly famous each year for its beautiful Jewelry Ice. It takes around 3.5 to 4 hours to reach Toyokoro from Sapporo via the expressway and about an hour from Obihiro.

Jewelry Ice can be seen only from mid-January to the end of February. During this coldest season, the Tokachi River freezes, and ice flows into the Pacific Ocean. These ice chunks are then washed ashore by waves, becoming polished and crystal-like, earning the name Jewelry Ice from locals.

Researchers from the Kitami Institute of Technology have noted that no other shores in Hokkaido have ice like that found on Otsu Shore.

Toyokoro has initiated a unique “Jewelry Ice Project” dedicated to this natural phenomenon.

http://jewelryice-project.com/jewelryice/

A web camera shows Otsu Shore all day long, providing forecasts for the appearance of Jewelry Ice. This tool is extremely useful; I check it daily to plan my visits.

A brand-new Jewelry House opened in 2021, providing a comfortable place to rest with warm, clean toilets.

This is the start point. The shore is about 100m walking from here.

 

Capture the Perfect Shot with the Holy Rising Sun

It’s essential to arrive at Otsu Shore (大津海岸) before dawn. The sunrise transforms the landscape into a photogenic wonderland, making the ice shine more brilliantly than you could ever imagine.

Here we go! Sunrize is coming.

You’ll find many ice formations on the sandy beach at Otsu Shore (大津海岸), just 100 meters from the Jewelry House.

It’s best to find your favorite ice formation before sunrise. The mouth of the Tokachi River is approximately 600 meters from the starting point. The sunrise comes from the sea, providing the perfect backdrop for your shots. Capturing the ice with the sunrise behind is key to getting stunning photos. The sunrise creates magical moments that make you forget the bitter cold.

piled up ices

 

Look at the steam rising from the sea. It feels like we’re in a giant freezer. The cold here is intense!

The sunrise enhances the crystal-like appearance of the ice, creating a breathtakingly beautiful moment.

Let’s discover your own Jewelry Ice masterpiece.

When capturing shots, avoid getting too close to the waves. The icy waters can freeze you in an instant.

During this moment, I was lying down to take a picture. The waves were immense and lingered longer than I anticipated before I could safely move away.

As you move closer to the mouth of the river, you’ll discover more ice formations. I’ve marked the location on Google Maps below, approximately 600-650 meters from Jewelry House.

Additionally, you can purchase marine products at Jewelry House and enjoy hot drinks while taking a break.

Access

From Sapporo

  • 3 hours 50 min by car (by the expressway) Take Do-oh express(道央自動車道) and Do-to(道東自動車道)

Obihiro

  • 1 hour 

Kushiro

  • 1 hour 35 min

Parking

Free parking.
See the location below.

Attention from Toyokoro Town

  1. The parking area is situated within a residential neighborhood. Please be considerate of the residents’ daily routines, especially in the early morning hours, by avoiding loud conversations.

  2. When parking, remember to turn off your engine and open or close car doors quietly to minimize disturbances.

  3. Please ensure to take your garbage with you when you leave.

  4. Respect the privacy of residents by refraining from taking photos or peering into their homes.

  5. While walking, please stay on the sidewalk and avoid spreading out onto the road.

Clothes and equipment

The temperature on the shore typically ranges around -15°C or below, with the wind making it feel even colder. Given the strong winds commonly experienced on the shore, dressing appropriately is crucial.

It’s recommended to wear clothing suitable for skiing to stay warm. Additionally, warm gloves are essential to protect your hands from frostbite, especially considering the risk of exposure in temperatures below freezing.

Without adequate protection, you could experience discomfort and potential frostbite on your face and hands within just a few minutes. Ensuring your clothing is appropriate for the conditions is essential for a safe and enjoyable experience.

  • Ski wear
  • Kairo(カイロ), heating pads make you happy.
  • Wool cap or mask
  • keep your camera warm in your pocket or hands

Given the extremely low temperatures, it’s essential to bring power equipment for your digital camera or iPhone. Bringing along a battery charger can provide peace of mind, ensuring your devices remain powered throughout your visit.

It’s particularly important for small digital cameras, as they may not last as long as expected in such harsh conditions. For instance, while my RICHO THETA Z1 typically lasts at least an hour in winter conditions, here it may only last for 30 minutes at most, or even less. This can be quite challenging to manage, so be sure to plan accordingly.