Enjoy Hokkaido Winter with



Enjoy Hokkaido Winter with "Drift Ice Gourmet"


Abashiri. Monbetsu. Shari. Rasu. Located along the Sea of Okhotsk, these four cities in Hokkaido are great places to see drift ice or ryuhyo in Japanese. They are also places where you can enjoy some very unique cuisine modeled after this impressive scenery and even pick up some ice ryuhyo-themed souvenirs. 

A world of white drift ice

Said simply, drift ice refers to ice floes that are pushed along by ocean currents. After the ice packs in the Arctic and Antarctic, the Sea of Okhotsk is the only other place in the world to experience this phenomenon.  

The best time to see this phenomenon is from February to March. However, there are days when the ice does not come in close to the shore, so it's not guaranteed that you'll be able to see the ice every day even during this period. 
The best time to see drift ice in Hokkaido is between February and March
Photo credit:Beetus

Popular cruises departing from the shore of the Sea of Okhotsk begin every year in early-January. The large pieces of pristine ice drifting in the stunning blue water of the sea make a very moving sight. One such limited-time cruise departs from a rest area called Ryuhyo Kaido Abashiri in the city of Abashiri. 
Yearly popular drift ice cruises
Photo credit:Beetus

You've never seen curry like this before

However, this rest area isn't just the departure point for cruises. The food court Kinemakan on the second floor is also home to curry that's unlike anything you've ever seen before. This shocking curry is modeled after the area's famous winter scenery. That's right. The curry is a shocking blue! 
Ryuhyo Curry from the Kinemakan food court 1
"Ryuhyo curry" (1,200 yen).

While the appearance may be very unusual, this Indian-style curry has a wonderful blend of spices and just the right amount of heat. Even people who don't usually enjoy spicy foods will find this a good option. 
Ryuhyo Curry from the Kinemakan food court 2
Do you have the courage to take of bite?

You can order your curry using a ticket machine. Just press the button of the food you want and get a numbered ticket. When the number printed on your ticket is announced, go to the counter and pick up your food. There is an English menu available as well as some English-speaking staff. 
Ticket machine at food court Kinemakan
Ordering your meal is easy thanks to this ticket machine.

We recommend eating at the window seats! 
Window seats at Kinemakan
Gaze out at scenery that matches your food!

Food Court Kinemakan | フードコートキネマ館
Address: second floor of rest area Ryuhyo-Kaido Abashiri
4 Minami, 3-jo Higashi, Abashiri-shi, Hokkaido
Hours: 11:00am~4:30pm (hours may change in the event of severe snow)
Closed December 31 ~ January 1 
Access: 5 min via taxi from JR Abashiri Station 
English menu and free WiFi available 

Finish off your meal with a refreshing parfait

For more drift ice fun, why not get a ryuhyo-inspired dessert? The blue ice cream used in this huge 30cm tall parfait is flavored like ramune, a refreshing kind of Japanese soda. Another fun thing about this parfait is that the glass it's served in is made in a local glass factory, Ryuhyo Glass. 
"Ryuho Parfait," a ramune ice cream parfait (680 yen). 

Here's the cafe where you can get the parfait. Its stylish interior features large windows which provide an excellent view of the scenery of Abashirikoso. 
The inside of Dining Koso.
The inside of Dining Koso.

Dining Kozakura | ダイニング湖桜
Address: 812-2 Yobito, Abashiri-shi, Hokkaido
Summer 11:00am~6:00pm (L.O. 5:30pm) 
Winter 11:30am~3:00pm (L.O. 2:30pm)
Closed on Tuesdays
*Store will open on Tuesday if it's a national holiday and will close the following day.
Access: 10 minutes via taxi from JR Abashiri Station
Chinese language menu also available

Toast the day with a drift ice cocktail

Called "Planet of Blue," this vodka-based cocktail was created based on the image of drift ice floating in the blue sea. Sip on one of these after a day of sightseeing at BEER&SCOTCH BAR THE EARTH.
BEER&SCOTCH BAR THE EARTH "Planet of Blue" cocktail (1,200 yen).
"Planet of Blue" cocktail (1,200 yen).

If you'd like to have a little something to eat as you enjoy your drink, try the chicken livers marinated in red wine. The livers they use are from chickens raised in Shiretoko and are melt-in-your-mouth tender. These are definitely worth trying even if you're not accustomed to eating liver, and they pair wonderfully with liqueur. 
Delicious and stylish dishes and drinks are waiting for you.

This sophisticated bar offers more than 600 types of alcohol from all over the world. In particular, they stock an impressive selection of Japanese whiskey. There are seasonal cocktails, snacks made using local ingredients, and lots more to enjoy here, so feel free to relax and indulge. 
BEER&SCOTCH BAR THE EARTH 600 types of alcohol
BEER&SCOTCH BAR THE EARTH bartender makes a cocktail
Address: Dai 2 Tsukasa Bldg., 1F
2 Minami 3-Jo Nishi, Abashiri-shi, Hokkaido 
Hours: 7:00pm~3:00am (until midnight on Sundays and national holidays) 
Closed for New Years holidays 
Access: 5 minutes from JR Abashiri Station 
English menu not available

Warm up with delicious seafood ramen

Here is ramen made with fresh seafood from the Sea of Okhotsk. Called "Ryuhyo Ramen," it was named after the area's famous scenery. The salt-flavored broth of this shio ramen brings out the umami flavor of the toppings-- and there are certainly plenty of toppings! Scallops, shrimp, wakame seaweed, fu (wheat gluten), char sui, crab, green onions... they really pack on the toppings for this filling ramen. If you need a delicious way to warm up from sightseeing, this is the way to go!
Seafood Ryuhyo ramen
Rather than a typical ramen bowl, this ramen is served in an iron pot called a tetsu-nabe.

The interior of the restaurant where you can get this ramen is also very interesting. The building used to be the staff office for JR Mokoto Station. Traces of its former purpose such as signboards and station master hats are used as decorations. 
Cafe inside JR Mokoto Station
You can also watch trains outside, making this place a great choice for train enthusiasts.
Outside of JR Mokoto Station
Connected directly to JR Mokoto Station, it's very easy to get to. 
Restaurant & Cafe Torokko | 食事&喫茶トロッコ
Address: Inside JR Mokoto Station
Mokoto, Abashiri-shi, Hokkaido
Hours: 10:00am~6:00pm 
No English menu or WiFi 

A soda to match the scenery

Enjoy this cold soda float from inside this warm cafe. To match the scenery, the soda is blue and the ice cream, white. It's a great sweet treat. Even better-- you can look at real drift ice from the counter seats as you drink your float!
"Ryuhyo Soda" (600 yen).

If a cold soda doesn't catch your fancy, try a Ryuhyo hot coffee. This coffee comes with a layer of condensed milk at the bottom. Mix it up with the muddler and enjoy its rich sweetness. You can also enjoy the beautiful glass the coffee comes in.
Ryuhyo hot coffee
"Ryuhyo Hot Coffee" (550 yen).
While there, you're sure to notice all the beautiful glassware and lights. These are actually all made in the glass factory next door!
Glassware from Ryuhyo Glass
Be sure to check out all the lovely pieces on display.

You can see this factory, called Ryuhyo Glass, from the window of the cafe and even see the process of making the glass. Furthermore, Ryuhyo Glass also offers experience programs where you can make your own glass! It only takes about fifteen minutes, and they have English explanations as well as English-speaking staff.
Instructions on how to blow glass
You'll need to make an appointment if you want to try glass blowing!

Ryuhyo Glass Museum (Scenic Cafe Boshi Iwa)  | 流氷硝子館(シーニックカフェ 帽子岩)
Address: 6-2-1, Minami 4-jo Higashi, Abashiri-shi, Hokkaido
Hours: 9:00am~6:00pm 
Closed Wednesdays 
*Store will open on Wednesdays if it's a national holiday and will close the following day.
Access: 5 minutes walk from JR Abashiri Station
English menu and WiFi available

Bring some Ryuhyo glass home

Next door to Ryuhyo Glass is a shop selling Ryuhyo glass. These pieces feature motifs of lakes, rivers, snow, and ice. They make great souvenirs for the special people in your life. By the way, Ryuhyo glass is manufactored from recycled flourecent light bulbs so it's an environmentally-friendly prouct.
Inside Ryuhyo Glass Kan
There are many beautiful ryuhyo-inspired pieces here, all hand-made.

From glasses to snowman decorations, chopstick rests shaped like cliones to various ryuhyo-inspired accessories, there are many beautiful things to look at. 
Ryuhyo Glass Kan_ ice bowl and pitcher
Ryuhyo Glass Kan rock glasses
流氷硝子館_バッテリーブラウン グラス Ryuhyo Glass Kan Partly Brown
Ryuhyo Glass Kan Snowmen decorations
Ryuhyo Glass Kan clione chopstick rests
Ryuhyo Glass Kan hair accessories
Ryuhyo Glass Museum | 流氷硝子館
Address: 6-2-1,  Minami 4-jo Higashi Abashiri-shi, Hokkaido
Hours: 9:00am~6:00pm
Closed Wednesdays 
*Store will open on Wednesdays if it's a national holiday and close the following day.
Access: 5 minutes walk from JR Abashiri Station
English menu and WiFi available.

Get ready for some memorable drift ice souvenirs!

If you wish you could share the fun excitement of Hokkaido's drift ice with your friends and family, you're in luck! There are tons of ryuhyo-themed souvenirs available. Of course, picking up some for yourself is also highly recommeded. 

First, a souvenir for the beer lovers in your life. Not only does this beer use water obtained from the drift ice, this beer is the color of the sea as well! Appropriately called the "Ryuhyo Draft," this unique beer is available both in cans and bottles.
Ryuhyo draft blue beer
"Ryuhyo Draft" (Bottle: 432 yen; can: 292 yen).
Blue Ryuhyo Draft beer
Have you ever seen a beer like this before?

If you really enjoyed the blue curry during your trip to Hokkaido, why not take some back with you? This heat-n-eat curry comes in two colors: blue or white. The blue curry has an authentic Indian curry flavor. The white curry has the flavor of scallops and sweet corn. Neither of these curries are too spicy, so they’re sure to appeal to a wide range of people. Both curries retail at 648 yen.
Blue ryuhyo curry
White ryuhyo curry
Ryuhyo instant curry package

There are also many sweets to remind you of your trip. There are Ryuhyo candies, candies flavored with mint or butter with Okhotsk that are packaged in cute ice breaker containers, and lots more. There are also apple-flavored Clione Gummies, the clione said to be the angel of the drift ice. These are only on sale in the Doto area, so be sure to pick some up. 
Ryuhyo candies
(Top left)Ryuhyo Ame (216 yen)  (Top right)Abashiri Ryuhyo Sightseeing Icebreaker Aurora Candy (500 yen)
(Bottom left)Ryuhyou Kingdom Clione Gummy (324 yen)  (Bottom right)Many kinds of ryuhyo souvenirs

The Ryuhyo-Kaido Abashiri Rest Station | 道の駅 流氷街道網走
Address: 4 Chome Minami 3 Johigashi, Abashiri-shi, Hokkaido
Hours: 9:00am~6:30pm (hours may change in the event of inclement weather)
Closed December 31 ~ January 1
Access: 5 minutes via taxi from JR Abashiri Station
English menu and WiFi available

Feeling hungry for some wintertime adventures in Hokkaido? The season for seeing drift ice in Hokkaido is very short, but it's worth the trip to see!! And of course, there's plenty of ryuhyo foods to enjoy when you go! 


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