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Release | nobu Kawashima

Visit winter Kitahama Station, the closest station to drift ice on the Sea of Okhotsk

北浜駅

Drift ice float at only 20 meters from the platform! Kitahama Station of JR Senmo Line, located on the suburb part of Abashiri City, is known as the closest station to the drift ice on the Sea of Okhotsk, and many visitors come to this station in winter. The nostalgic wooden structure of station building is photogenic, being another reason of its popularity.

 

Drift ice in front of the station!

北浜駅と流氷物語号▲The sightseeing train “Ryuhyo Monogatari Gou” arriving at Kitahama Station. At the back, there is drift ice scattered on the Sea of Okhotsk and Shiretoko Mountains. 
 

JR Senmo Line connects Abashiri Station and Kushiro Station. The train runs the coastline of the Sea of Okhotsk between Abashiri Station to Shiretoko Shari Station, which lets visitors enjoy the great views of the ocean from the window. Especially in winter, it is the only rail line in Japan which people can enjoy drift ice watching from the train windows. 

 
釧網線車窓▲The view from the train when it was near Kitahama Station in Senmo Line. There was the ocean of drift ice on the right! 
 

Among the few stations along the coastline, the closest station to the sea is Kitahama Station. It is only 20 meters from the platform to the sea. In winter, people can get the great view of drift ice from the station! 
 
Seeing from the platform is, of course, nice, but the best view spot is the observation deck on the side of the platform.  
 

北浜駅の展望台▲The observation deck in Kitahama Station is the best seat to view drift ice! People go up using the stairs. 
 

Anyone can go up to the observation deck, and you can get the wide view of the Sea of Okhotsk. Visitors can enjoy the view of the sea filled with drift ice, platform, and the railroad along the coastline altogether. 
 
 
北浜駅と列車▲The view from the observation deck. This wonderful view is the secret of Kitahama Station’s popularity. 
 

This station is a very small station, getting only a few one-to-two-cars local trains per day. However, many people get on and off at this station every day.
Also, Kitahama Station faces the National Road, so it is easy to access by car, too. It is not rare that big sightseeing buses stop here and tourists fill the platform. Kitahama Station is almost like a sightseeing spot rather than a station for regular train users! You can see how famous Kitahama Station is.  

 

The nostalgic wooden station building is another reason of popularity

It was 1924 when Kitahama Station started operating. Because of the decrease in users and rationalization, it became an unmanned station in 1984. 
 
 
北浜駅駅舎▲The old wooden station building is an unmanned station. The room which used to be the office for station staffs is now a cafe. 
 

Kitahama Station started to get attentions from few years before it became an unmanned station. The stationmaster at that time made souvenirs and distributed to people who purchased the entrance ticket; it was a “pass” with shells picked at the beach. This gained attention from train travelers and motorcycle travelers, made the number of visitors increase each year.  

 
北浜駅駅名盤▲There are many people get off with their suitcases.
 
In addition to that, a unique culture was born in Kitahama Station. Travelers started to stick their used commutation tickets, train tickets, or even name cards to walls and ceilings of the waiting room.


北浜駅の駅舎内▲The walls and ceiling of the waiting room are decorated with full of commuting tickets, etc. Recently, personal information issues are very strict and complicated but the long tradition of sightseeing style at Kitahama Station still continues. 
 

The beautiful location and unique structure of the building are very photogenic, and the station is used as the location for making many domestic and international dramas and films. So Kitahama Station kept getting visitors even though it became an unmanned station. The number of foreign visitors is increasing recently, too. 
 
 
北浜駅に停車中の列車▲When the one car rapid train arrived at Kitahama Station, people getting on and off gathered to the door. 
 

Drift ice comes to Abashiri area from the end of January to middle of March normally. (Recently, the amount of drift ice is reducing because of global warming, so the period is said to become shorter)
How about going to the drift ice watching at the closest station to the Sea of Okhotsk? I hope you can encounter drift ice when you visit Kitahama Station! 
  • Visit winter Kitahama Station, the closest station to drift ice on the Sea of Okhotsk
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