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Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum

  • Ryuhyo is the Japanese word for Drift Ice - blocks of ice that are carried along by the winds and sea currents from colder climates. The Okhotsk coastline in eastern Hokkaido is the southernmost point in all of the northern hemisphere that you can see drift ice, and indeed the only place to experience it in all of Japan. The drift ice along the Okhotsk coast comes all the way from the Amur River in Russia, some 1,200 km away. It usually arrives during January and February and can be seen right up until March or April, when spring begins.

    Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum

    Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum

    If you’re lucky enough to be in eastern Hokkaido during this time there are various ways one can enjoy the drift ice, including boats tours that cut through it, and even walking tours that involve walking atop the huge slabs of ice as they float in the ocean. If however, you’re in the area any other time of year, you can still experience drift ice, albeit man made, and learn all about it at the Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum in Abashiri City.

    Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum

    Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum

    This small museum has several interesting interactive experiences that teach you about drift ice and allow you to experience it first hand. These include a multifaceted cinema screen that plays a short film in both English and Japanese explaining the phenomena of drift ice in Hokkaido and where it comes from, a projection-mapping show inspired by the drift ice cycle that is displayed across an entire wall.

    Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum

    Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum

    There is also a walk-in cold room, maintained at a constant -15 degrees centigrade, that provides visitors with the opportunity to touch large chunks of manmade drift ice. The hands-on experience of carrying a wet towel into the cold room and having it freeze almost immediately is also popular with visitors.

    Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum

    Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum

    As well as all of the above there are information displays, sadly in Japanese only at this time, and a set of small aquarium tanks with fish that live beneath drift ice waters, including cliones, balloon lumpfish and Taranetz’s lumpsuckers.

    Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum

    Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum

    Once you are done with the museum, you can head upstairs to an observatory that affords great panoramic views over Abashiri City and out to sea in the direction the drift ice comes from. There is also a permanent photography exhibition, a small café and a restaurant that serves a variety of meals and alcoholic and soft drinks.

    Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum

    Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum

    The Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum is open from 8:30am to 6:00pm in the summer months, between May and October, and between 9:00am and 4:30pm during the winter months, between November and April. During the new-year holiday, from December 29th and January 5th the museum operates from 10:00am to 3:00pm. Entrance fees are 750 yen for adults and 540 yen for children.

    The Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum is situated approximately 5km from JR Abashiri train station, it can then be reached by taxi or bus leaving from Abashiri bus terminal. There is also car parking for those with their own cars.

    Abashiri
    Address
    Hokkaido Abashirishi Shinmachi 3-chome
    Phone
    Okhotsk Ryu-hyo Museum
    Address
    Hokkaido Abashirishi Tentozan 244-3
    Phone
    0152435951
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