29. Jan 2023 | Nature

Hokkaido Trivia – First Day of the Drift Ice

“First day of the drift ice” is a seasonal phrase that we so commonly use in Hokkaido.  It’s a terminology used by the meteorological agency, too.  It means that it’s the first day of the long-awaited drift ice to show up on the horizon.  Especially in the Okhotsk area and the eastern Pacific area, where the drift ice actually comes ashore, the phrase has a special meaning more than just a climatical phenomenon.

“So, the drift ice finally came!” “It’s finally the first day of the drift ice!”  The word “Ryuhyo Shonichi (first day of the drift ice)” brings back energy and life to the town.  It’s amazing how these two words (in Japanese) can make a town so lively. 

It’s not only for the sake of tourism. 

The drift ice that brings along abundant phytoplanktons are indispensable to maintain the rich food pyramid in Okhotsk Sea.  Did you know that the Okhotsk Sea is one of the top 3 oceans in the world with rich marine resources.

We’ve been seeing many posts on SNS lately from Mombetsu, Utoro and Abashiri, the towns along the coastline of the Okhotsk Sea, that the drift ice was seen on the horizon.  The ice belt has to be observed from the local meteorological agency to be officially announced as Ryuhyo Shonichi.  We just need another push from the cold strong north wind!

Include watching the drift ice in your winter activities in Hokkaido!

It’ll start looking like this when it comes near to the shore