In East Hokkaido, the cold, ice and snow create a true winter wonderland.
Winter is the best season to encounter breathtaking marvels: the snow-white ocean completely blanketed in drift ice, beautiful landscapes created by the harsh winter conditions, exciting activities that will make you forget all about the cold, and Japanese cranes soaring over the snowy fields. Come and visit East Hokkaido in winter.
Cruising Through the Drift Ice
If there is one scene that typifies sightseeing in East Hokkaido, it is the Sea of Okhotsk buried under the white drift ice. Experience a unique and awe-inspiring cruise on an ice-breaker, a ship that powers its way through the drift ice as it cruises. Feel the thrilling vibrations up on deck as thick chunks of drift ice crash against the bottom of the ship. As the ship rams into the drift ice and smashes its way through, you're sure to agree that the cruise is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Exciting Activities Walk on the Drift Ice or Canoe Down the Wintry River
Get the most out of your trip by participating in exciting activities. Don a special drysuit and take a walk on the pure-white drift ice that extends all the way to the horizon, or make your way slowly down the Kushiro River in a canoe, surrounded by the still, white landscape. On the coldest winter mornings, you'll be able to see diamond dust in the air. Both activities are thrilling enough to make you forget all about the cold!
Beautiful Spectacles: Frost Flowers and Jewel Ice
In East Hokkaido, the harsher the cold, the more beautiful the natural phenomena you will encounter. On still mornings when the temperature is below 5°F, you can see frost flowers blooming. "Jewel ice" is a phenomenon where ice formed in the river drifts down to the sea and then washes ashore. Sunlight shines on the transparent ice, creating a sparkling, jeweled landscape. Both these marvels occur thanks to the harsh cold.
Japanese Cranes and Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan
Japanese red-crowned cranes are classed as one of Japan's special natural monuments. In winter, the wild Japanese cranes display their elegance and beauty as they flock to feeding grounds. Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan is an ice village created on the surface of a frozen lake. Have a magical time in the ice domes, ice bars and open-air baths out on the ice.
Betsukai's Icy Horizon
The surface of Notsuke Bay freezes, forming a world surrounded on all sides by whiteness. A winter walking tour over this icy landscape is an unusual experience that will have you wondering whether you're really walking on the sea! You can also try your hand at taking trick photos that make use of the unusual perspective!
Kushiro Specialties: Charcoal-Grilled Seafood and Seafood Rice Bowls
Kushiro is the place to enjoy a mouthwatering array of fresh seafood. Enjoy all the flavors of the sea: recommended dishes include robatayaki (seafood grilled over charcoal) and katte-don (a rice bowl dish particular to Washo Market), which you build yourself by choosing your own seafood toppings.
The Tokachi region has a thriving agriculture and dairy farming industry. The desserts are made from high quality wheat, sugar, adzuki beans and dairy products, and the variety of established sweet treats are well loved by the locals.
For yakiniku barbecue in Hokkaido, it has to be Kitami! Grill your own delicious fresh meat and locally grown onions on a charcoal brazier. This will be a travel memory you'll treasure for a long time to come!