|Jewelry Ice||What is it? Glittering chunks of ice washed up on the beach
Where is it found? Otsu Beach in Toyokoro, a town near Obihiro in eastern Hokkaido
When can it be seen? Around mid-January to mid-February
|Common Glasswort||What is it? A sea plant whose leaves change color in autumn like the leaves on trees
Where is it found? Salt marshes all along the Sea of Okhotsk coast, particularly around Lake Notoro
When can it be seen? Early autumn
|Blue Pond (Aoi Ike)||What is it? A pond where minerals turn the water bright blue
Where is it? Biei in central Hokkaido
When can it be seen? All year round!
The natural masterpieces created by Hokkaido's cold winters
Some parts of Hokkaido reach -30°C in winter, and that brings all kinds of magical natural phenomena. On cold, clear mornings, you can see diamond dust, where ice crystals in the air glitter in the light of the sun. Or if you visit a frozen lake, you might see water leaping up through the cracks in the ice. This is called omiwatari, which means "deity crossing". And of course, the snow crystals and the ice sparkling in the morning sun are a photographer's dream.
Recently, the coast near the mouth of the Tokachi River has attracted attention for a phenomenon called "Jewelry Ice". A 2km stretch of the coastline is filled with chunks of ice resembling big crystals. This area is the only place in Japan where this otherworldly phenomenon can be seen.
Hokkaido's unique wetland plants and flowers
Around 80% of Japan's wetlands can be found in Hokkaido, particularly eastern and northern Hokkaido. The nutrient-rich water in these wetlands feeds a diverse range of plants - you'll be amazed by the flowers you'll see! Walking tracks and observatories are set up, offering stunning views of the seasonal flowers, as well as the towering mountains and the unique topography of Hokkaido's coastlines.
One particularly beautiful plant is the common glasswort by Lake Notoro. A beloved sign that autumn is approaching in eastern Hokkaido, its Japanese name means "coral grass" because of its resemblance to coral. It is found in salt marshes all along the Sea of Okhotsk coast, particularly Lake Notoro where the entire area around the lake is carpeted in red. At one point, the area where it grew shrunk so much that it was feared that the glasswort would die out, but regrowing efforts have restored it to its former glory.
A pond where volcanic minerals create an enchanting effect
Many of Hokkaido's lakes and marshes were formed by volcanic activity. The perfect combination of topography and climate comes together to create enchanting scenery. Lake Shikotsu and Lake Mashu are some of the clearest in Japan, and their vivid blue colors are so beautiful that some locals even use the terms "Mashu blue" and "Shikotsu blue".
The Blue Pond (Aoi Ike) in Biei has also become famous for its beauty in recent years. Formed as a result of measures to control mudslides, the flow of water from Shirahige (White Beard) Falls brings an abundance of minerals such as aluminum, which cause the light to scatter, creating a bright blue color that you can scarcely believe is real.
Hokkaido: An incredible region of Japan
Admire Hokkaido's beautiful views
From colors so rare that they are named after the regions where they are found, to the touch of the winds that herald the change of seasons, to the symphony of natural sounds (the creaking of the drift ice in winter has been selected as one of the 100 Soundscapes of Japan), Hokkaido's nature will thrill all five senses.
Jewelry Ice in Toyokoro
Toyokoro, a town in Tokachi Subprefecture near Obihiro, is the only place in Japan where you can see Jewelry Ice, a natural phenomenon in which the beach is covered with chunks of ice that sparkle like crystals. Some pieces even have a vivid blue sparkle when they catch the light. This beautiful phenomenon can be seen between around mid-January and mid-February.Webpage
Common Glasswort in Lake Notoro
In early autumn, the area around Lake Notoro (20 minutes by bus from downtown Abashiri) is covered with a red carpet of common glasswort. Common glasswort is a sea plant whose leaves change color in autumn in much the same way as the leaves on trees, turning a 4-hectare area around the lake deep red. A festival is held every September to enjoy this natural beauty.Webpage
Blue Pond (Aoi Ike) in Biei
The Blue Pond was formed as a result of measures to control mudslides, but the magical blue color happened through a miracle of nature. Water from Shirahige (White Beard) Falls carries minerals such as aluminum into the water. The particles of these minerals cause the sunlight to scatter, making the water look bright blue.Webpage
All you need to do is show up! Facilities such as tourist information centers and local tourist associations will tell you where these sights are, how to get there and the current conditions.
Best Season To See
Many of the best scenic views in Hokkaido are seasonal, and some natural phenomena occur only under certain weather conditions. Contact a tourist information facility or the local tourist association for the latest information.
|Common glasswort by Lake Notoro|||||||
See Hokkaido's breathtaking natural beauty for yourself!
Otsu Beach, Toyokoro
From around mid-January to mid-February, Otsu Beach in Toyokoro is covered with Jewelry Ice, chunks of ice that look like crystals.
About 20 km from JR Toyokoro Station to the Otsu coast.
In early autumn, a 4-hectare area around Lake Notoro is covered with a red carpet of common glasswort.
Take an Abashiri bus bound for "Tokoro/ Lake Saroma Sakaeura area" from JR Abashiri Station, and get off at the "Sangoso Iriguchi" bus stop.
Blue Pond (Aoi Ike): Biei
A pond with an enchanting blue color created by minerals from the nearby Shirahige (White Beard) Falls.
Take a Dohoku bus bound for "Aoiike/ Shirogane Onsen" from JR Asahikawa Station and Biei Town, and get off at the "Shirogane Aoiike Iriguchi" bus stop.
- Some scenic spots cannot be accessed during some seasons or in certain weather. We recommend finding out about the spot you want to visit in advance (for example, contacting the tourism association) to avoid disappointment.