Attractions

Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum

Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum

Travel Guide

Located on top of Mt. Tentozan, which is 207m high, Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum is an interesting museum to learn about the drift ice around the year, the ecosystem of the Sea of Okhotsk and to see clione which is commonly known as sea angel. You can wander out into the museum's gardens on a hot summer's day.

The museum houses a permanent display of drift ice, with a room that offers visitors a simulated drift ice experience even in summer. The room is set at a temperature of -15c°, and visitors can touch and feel the drift ice. Visitors can experience how a wet towel freezes within seconds, while a short sledding course is built just outside the museum during winter. The museum will give visitors a wet small towel. Visitors hold one end of the towel with one hand, and then move it very fast in the air in circular movement. In just few seconds, the towels will be completely frozen!! Visitor may also experience winter season by wearing a woolen coat similar to those worn by Ainu people.

One of the museum's highlights is on top of it – Tentozan (Mt Tento) Observatory. Autumn and spring are best for sightseeing and visitors can see the ice drifting down from the Siberian coast in winter but, even through the summer haze, there are views to Lake Abashiri, where locals go ice-fishing in winter, and, oddly, Abashiri's maximum-security prison.

In addition, the Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum also has a hi-vision theatre that displays the four seasons of Sea of Okhotsk. There's also a restaurant with views to the coast in the museum.

Due to the influence of global warming, the average temperature of the Okhotsk area has increased by 0.7c °over the past century and the amount of drift ice has decreased by 40%. Therefore, the Abashiri Subprefectural Office has declared the third Sunday of February as "Okhotsk Drift ice Day" to draw attention to environmental problems and take a fresh look at the local way of life based on drift ice. Every year, different events including the creation of snow and ice candles, concerts, panel exhibitions on global warming and lectures on drift ice are held led by the Abashiri City Eco Center. This kind of activity is spreading among neighboring cities, towns and villages.

Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum - Drift ice experience room Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum - Clione Okhotsk Ryuhyo Museum - Exhibition area
Drift ice experience room Clione Exhibition area
 
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Travel Advice

Drift ice

Located on a similar geographical latitude as Portland (Oregon) and Venice (Italy), the Sea of Okhotsk coast of Hokkaido is the northern hemisphere's southernmost region to see drifting sea ice. While drift ice can be observed along the entire Sea of Okhotsk coast from Wakkanai to the Shiretoko Peninsula, it gets thickest around Abashiri. Due to global warming, the amount and thickness of the drift ice has decreased quite considerably since the late 1980s. The drift ice typically reaches the coast around Abashiri in mid to late January and disappears again by late March to mid April. The best time to view it is usually around the second half of February.

The following are some ways for tourists to enjoy the seasonal phenomena:

From the train

Under good conditions, the drift ice can also be observed from the coast. A popular way to do so is from the trains between Abashiri and Shiretoko-Shari Stations. The nostalgic Ryuhyo Norokko train has panorama windows and operates along the coast during the drift ice season.

Drift Ice Boat Cruises 

One of the best and easiest ways to see the drift ice is from the Aurora Sightseeing Boats, which depart from Abashiri Port. Because drift ice is not always visible from the coast, the boats travel out into the Sea of Okhotsk to where ice is more likely to be found. The boat rides take about an hour and run four or five times a day from late January to the end of March. Advanced ticket reservations can be made through the company website.

Drift Ice Tours 

Tour companies along the Sea of Okhotsk coast have come up with various tour ideas for tourists to experience the drift ice. Among the most popular ones are tours to walk on the drift ice, observe the animals living on and beneath the ice and even swim in the sea with protective swim suits. The city of Abashiri and the town of Utoro on the Shiretoko Peninsula have several companies offering such tours. 

Icebreaker Sightseeing Boats

Icebreaker Aurora runs one hour trips on the sea of Okhotsk, feeling like the ice creaking beneath the ship and whiteness of the ice that spreads South around the Amur river in midwinter. Which operate daily from mid January to early April from Abashiri Port. fourth or five levels.

Clione

Clione is a species found only in polar waters. It is gelatinous, transparent, and very small. The wing-like parts of its body were developed from its foot. Its shape is like flying creature with wings, which explains the reason it is commonly known as sea angel. Although details of cliones’ feeding behavior are yet to be known, cliones appear to like preying on limacina.

 
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Visit

Address 245-1 Tentozan, Abashiri-shi, Hokkaido
Phone 0152-43-5951
Admission Adult: 540 yen (Groups 430 yen)
Senior high: 430 yen (Groups 340 yen)
Student: 320 yen (Groups 250 yen)
Adult: over 12
Senior high: 15 to 17
Student: 6 to 14
Groups: over 20
Hours 08:00 to 18:00  April to October
09:00 to 16:30  November to March
Entry until 30 minntes before closing
Closed December 29 to January 5
Required Time 30 minutes
Getting There By Train
12 minutes ride by Abashiri Bus bound for Mt. Tentozan from JR Abashiri Station on the Sekihoku Honsen or Senmo Honsen to theTentozan bus stop, then walk approximately 1 minute.

By Car
Take National Highway route 39 and Hokkaido Highway route 683 from Memanbetsu Airport. It is approximately 20 minutes from airport.
Parking Free parking available
 
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