When visitors travel to the northern island of Hokkaido in winter, they mostly go skiing or enjoy such popular attractions as the Sapporo Snow Festival and penguin walk at Asahiyama Zoo. But I like going to Shiretoko National Park. There, the experience of walking on drift ice is astounding. In winter, the Sea of Okhotsk freezes over, and the drift ice reaches northern Hokkaido, where it remains from mid-January until early March. The coastal waters become a vast white field of ice.
When I was there, I walked on the drift ice for about 90 minutes, wearing a protective dry suit and accompanied by a professional guide. It felt like I was at the North Pole. The sunset on the ice field was ethereal and magnificent.
The tour gives you the chance to learn about the Sea of Okhotsk and the natural environment of Shiretoko, with its virgin forests and diversity of protected wildlife. It all makes for a wonderful experience that is possible only in Shiretoko. But going there once is not enough: I hope to visit again.
Name: Ussanee Aiemjan (Bat)
ADDRESS: 187-8 Utoro-Nishi, Shari, Shari, Hokkaido
TEL: +81-152-22-5522 (advance reservation)
HOURS: 9 a.m.–7 p.m.
ACCESS: 2 hours by bus from Memanbetsu Airport.