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Go See the Jewelry Ice in Hokkaido and Take Fantastic Pictures

Do you know what "jewelry ice" is? It is a natural phenomenon that can be seen in Hokkaido. It is attracting a lot of attention both domestically and internationally for the magical photographs that can be taken with it. Below is a detailed introduction on it.

What is Jewelry Ice?

"Jewelry ice" is attracting attention in Hokkaido. It is a phenomenon rarely seen in the world that appears along the Otsu Coast of Toyokoro in southeast Hokkaido during the coldest days of winter.
Lumps of frozen ice from the river flows into the Pacific Ocean, where they crash against each other due to the waves, and are shaved into numerous circular cubes. The cubes that land on the beach are called “jewelry ice”. Unlike the drift ice from the Sea of Okhotsk, they are transparent, so they glitter like jewels when they catch the light. The ice is more transparent and beautiful when newly washed ashore.

How to Take Magical Pictures

The ice pieces look different depending on the time of day. They change colors, from mystical dark blue before sunrise into red, orange and gold when the morning sun hits them. They almost look like jewels, such as sapphire, topaz and opal. During the day, they give off a translucent glimmer like crystals or diamonds.
If you want to take magical pictures, go before sunrise. You should be able to capture the photogenic scenery consisting of the ocean reflecting the sunrise, the color of the sky, and the jewelry ice glittering from the light.

When and Where to See Them

The jewelry ice is washed ashore on Otsu Coast in Toyokoro, near where Tokachi River flows into the Pacific Ocean. It is about 45 minutes by car from Tokachi-Obihiro Airport.
It can be seen between mid-January and mid-February, when the cold is at its harshest. The blocks of ice that are floating in the ocean are washed ashore when the ocean is rough from stormy weather. It is a natural phenomenon, so keep in mind that you may not be able to see it depending on the weather condition. The town of Toyokoro publishes information on the jewelry ice on its official website, starting from about mid-January. They include photographs, so be sure to check it before going out!

When and Where to See Them

Otsu-motomachi, Toyokoro-cho, Nakagawa-gun, Hokkaido

What to Prepare

In the middle of winter, Otsu Coast can be 25℃ below zero or even colder! It will feel colder by the sea due to strong winds, so be prepared with warm clothing and gloves. Disposable heat packs can be helpful, so get them in advance at convenience stores or drug stores. Also, you may be walking on ice, so be sure to wear shoes that are not slippery. If you are going to shoot photographs, it is highly recommended to prepare spare batteries for your camera and smartphone. The battery might become unusable due to the cold, but this is avoidable if you keep the spare batteries warm.

Participate in a Tour

There are guided tours that leave from Obihiro City and the surrounding areas that are organized when the jewelry ice is in season.
The one-day tour by Samurai Produce, which organizes a variety of activities for tourists in the Tokachi area, is a four-hour tour full of the appeal of Tokachi’s winter, including the jewelry ice. The price starts from 6,000 JPY. You can add options to have a professional nature photographer give you advice and take some snapshots for you.

Jewelry ice is a beautiful phenomenon that can only be seen in the winter. If you are planning to visit Hokkaido, why not schedule your trip at a time when you can see it?

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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