Monbetsu & Abashiri Area
Cruise through drift ice on the Sea of Okhotsk!
Drift ice cruises are the heart of winter sightseeing in Eastern Hokkaido! In Monbetsu there is the Icebreaker Cruiser Garinko II, and in Abashiri, the Icebreaker Cruiser Aurora, which take visitors on exhilarating cruises into the icy sea. The powerful cruiser breaking up the frozen sea as it moves through the ice is sure to provide lasting memories. The sunrise and sunset cruises are also highly recommended. In addition, you can also enjoy fishing, and whale and dolphin watching! If you really want to experience what it’s like during harsh cold winters, go to the Okhotsk Sea Ice Museum in Monbetsu or the Okhotsk Ryu-hyo Museum in Abashiri, where you can actually touch drift ice. Of course, there are many attractions even during summer, in the Sea of Okhotsk.
There are also many impressive scenic viewpoints, such as the Flower Garden Hana Tento and the rural landscape of “Fairy Tale Hills,” known as “Meruhen-no-Oka.” Abashiri is home to the famous Abashiri Prison, the oldest prison in Japan. Although it is now the Abashiri Prison Museum, visitors can still experience prison life by eating the food once served to the inmates. Another fascinating place to visit is the Hokkaido Museum of Northern Peoples, which showcases handicrafts and typical Uilta patterns of the Okhotsk people.