When you’re in Hokkaido, there’s one thing you must see: The Monbetsu Drift Ice
For the first installment of our Monbetsu Drift Ice Adventure series we went to the Okhotsk Drift Ice Science Center – Giza (sample trip plan detailed at the end), a roadside station for learning about the Monbetsu Okhotsk drift ice.
Inside, one popular attraction is the “Extreme Cold Room.” This room keeps a constant temperature of minus 20 (C). There’s even a real piece of drift ice preserved in the room. We were really excited to check it out.
▲ Entrance to the Extreme Cold Room. You can borrow a down coat and gloves to go in.
On the other side of the door, you can feel a kind of pleasant coolness – not what you expect at all. It’s almost like being in a refrigerator. There are also what seem to be lumps of snow scattered around but they’re actually drift ice as well. They’re huge, but the fact that they are just the tips of icebergs makes you really get a sense of how big the bergs bust be.
▲ Drift ice from 2012!
▲ Here is the drift ice botanical garden and aquarium, where there are over 100 types of preserved fish and vegetation. The clear ice makes it really beautiful.
▲ You can even sit on the ice too! While holding a sign board for the center, you can get a fun commemorative picture taken. ♪
At minus 20, even bubbles freeze!
▲ The staff blew some bubbles for us but...
▲ Can you see that? They froze! These bubbles fell to the ground and popped. It’s almost as if you can hear the crunch of the ice. You can even touch them with your hands.
At the entrance there are also wet towels by the door that, after winging them around a bit, you’ll find also freeze solid!
▲ After swinging the towel for about seven or eight seconds. It froze so quickly!
Inside the museum, you can also find sea angels (clione).
▲ Their cute little tails flip up! The sea angels’ scientific name is actually clione limacina, and they are a type of snail.
Clione prefer cold waters, so they fill the waters of Monbetsu from the end of December through February. It’s also worth noting how these creatures are caught. The staff member seen in the picture below, wearing wader-like rubber overalls, got into the water and scooped the clione out with a net, taking care to avoid the drift ice.
▲ “I’m actually going to catch some tomorrow,” explained “Clione Man.” It seems the tank was a bit empty when I visited but even so, there were still about 100 in the tank.
There’s so many fascinating ways to study the ice here, including “baby drift ice” ice crystals and drift ice models. Whatever it is that interests you, you’re sure to enjoy the entire drift ice experience!
[ Hokkaido Okhotsk Drift Ice Science Center – Giza ]
Phone / 0158・23・5400
Location / 紋別市元紋別11の６
Hours / 9：00～17：00（ Admission until 16:30 )
Closed for New Year
Entrance Fee / Adults 750 Yen
Access / 10 min. drive from Monbetsu Bus Terminal
[ Model Course ]
15:00 / Okhotsk Tokkari Center
16:00 / Okhotsk Observation Tower
Dinner / Seafood at Rin
06:00 / Garinko Number Two
From here you could also go to the Science Center
10:00 / Dezuka Fisheries
11:15 / Okhotsk Monbetsu White Curry (Kitchen Shima or Hotel Okhotsk Palace)
※ Flights from Haneda to Monbetsu take about 1 hour 40 minutes.
※ Bus ride from Monbetsu Airport to Monbetsu Bus Terminal takes about 15 minutes.
( Research, Photography, Composition by Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer – Fukko )