The Okhotsk Sea in Hokkaido is famous for drift ice in winter. In the most severe season, 80 percent of the sea is covered with drift ice. In mid-November, drift ice starts forming at points where the Amur River to the north in Sakhalin flows into the sea. This drift ice expands in the north wind and travels with the currents some 2000km south to arrive near Abashiri by mid-January.
Because fresh water runs from the Amur River into the Okhotsk Sea, the surface of the sea here is less salty. Sea water with less salt freezes more easily, thus forming drift ice.
This ice, born in the far north sea, brings rich plankton, which is fed on by sea creatures such as hairy crab, salmon, trout and scallop.
As far as you can see, the drift ice forms a field of white that is completely silent without the sound of waves. Drift ice on the Okhotsk Sea is a poetic world produced by mysterious nature.
Minazuki is a Japanese traditional name for June on the old calendar. Minazuki (水無月) literally means “a waterless month.” According to the lunar calendar, it falls on the period around the end of the rainy season; thus it means “a month without water.” However, there is another theory that states the 無 character is a particle meaning “of ”and Minazuki is “a month of water,”because it is the time when farmers irrigate a rice field after rice planting. We don’t know whichever is right, but “a month without water” seems to fit more for the image of the rainy season.
In Kyoto, there is a custom to eat Minazuki rice cake, which is made to resemble frozen snow, on June 30 every year. As ice was very precious in the Heian period (794-1192), only the nobilities can have the opportunities to eat ice. Then the commoners ate this rice cake in stead of ice and offered prayers for their good health for the rest of the year.
In late June comes Geshi (summer solstice), when a hot summer begins right after the rainy season has gone.
The Funbe Waterfalls in Hiroo-cho, Hokkaido are unique waterfalls that gush out of the rock cliffs. “Funbe” means “a beach where whales can be caught” in the Ainu language. The name comes from the episode that a beached whale was once found in this town. Different from other waterfalls that flow down the cliff in rivers, the Funbe Waterfalls gush out of the rocky cliffs along the road. The groundwater that permeated into the gravel layer in the rock runs down through the sand particles and springs out of the rocks. Several lines of water, which are about 12 m high, fall down the cliff covering about 150 m wide. The continuous flow of water looks very cool. In winter, the water freezes and creates a huge beautiful ice poles. Together with the rude wave sounds of the winter Pacific Ocean beyond the cliff, you will really sense the magnificence of nature here.
The Kannon Waterfall is located in Mt. Natsukiyama with an altitude of 1386 m in Oita and Miyazaki prefectures. Fujikawachi Stream flows out of this waterfall and runs 8 km through Fujikawachi Gorge down to Fujikawachi village. The Kannon Waterfall is a cataract with a height of 77 m and a width of 2 m. The cliff composed of red granite shows different appearances by the season, among which the frozen waterfall in winter is very impressive. The stream has a rapid current, which is typical to an upstream-typed valley. The current has created a lot of pot holes in various shapes like spiral, cotyloid, or streamline, which fascinate hikers. The gorge is rich in nature with azaleas and green leaves in spring and red leaves covering the mountain in autumn.
Technology in Japan allows for the production of the world’s thinnest gold foil. It is so advanced that gold alloy the size of a ten-yen coin can be stretched to the size of one tatami (traditional Japanese flooring: approximately 1.6562 m2). The technology for creating foil is no longer limited to just gold, but to all kinds of metals, which allows for a wider variety of colors as well. The ring above is made of acrylic fiber, foiled with sterling silver. The integration of the foil’s thinness with the absolute clarity of the acrylic fiber results in a ring that has ice-like characteristics, it being light, airy and translucent. The thinly stretched silver foil gives this ring the appropriate hard texture and feel that sterling silver should have.
-Sterling silver-foil finish
Design: Masako Saka (acrylic)
Produced by: Ubushina,Yudai Tachikawa
Silver forest, or soft rime, can be seen near the top of Mt. Gomadanzan, the highest peak in Wakayama Pref. from the middle of November through the end of December. Soft rime is a white ice that forms when the water droplets in fog freeze to the outer surfaces of objects like tree barks. You can take the hiway called Takano-Ryujin Skyline from Ryujin Village to Mt. Gomadanzan parking lot, from which walking along the promnade is the nearest way to the mountain top. Beautiful soft rime can be seen on every beech tree growing along either side of the promnade The ice on the trees glistens like white blossoms, creating fantastic atmosphere all over the area. On the way to the mountain top, there is a small waterfall named the Koikosode Waterfall, where you can see water splashes frozen to iciles. The forest in Mt. Gomadanzan was selected as one of 100 Headspring Forests by Forestry Agency in 1995.
If you pass along Tenjin beach toward the mouth of the Nagase River in midwinter, you will see the phenomenon of natural ice art.
Water from Inawashiro Lake is blown by very strong westerly winds onto trees near the beach where it freezes in splash formations, a phenomenon that is very rare in Japan. This 'splash ice' is as beautiful as 'silver frost' and you will never be tired of seeing it.
The splashes sometimes make ice formations up to five meters long. The wind is so strong that windbreak forests have been planted along Tenjin beach. Strong cold waves sometimes make the splash ice around the trees. You can see this ice along a 100m area where there are no anti-erosion concrete blocks.
Moreover, you can see various other changing ice formations such as drift ice and ice upheavals that are said to mark the passing of deities.
Shakadake mountain is located in Hita, Oita Prefecture. In January and February, the hoarfrost on the mountain is absolutely beautiful and has become a winter specialty of Shakadake.
Shakadake is the dominant peak in the Tsue mountain range. The observatory on Shakadake is positioned at an altitude of 1230m and is the highest in Oita Prefecture. Because of this, it has a radar dome installed by the Ministry of Construction, along with three radio relay towers for the Meteorological Agency, the Defense Agency and for Oita Prefecture.
In Soma Village Mountain Stream Park, the sight of pure white peaks soaring majestically in the deep blue sky during the hoarfrost season can only be described as astounding and phenomenal. On fine days, the keen blue sky spreads endlessly, and hoarfrost in the shape of flowers blooms all over the trees of the mountain, resulting in a splendid view. The hoarfrost of Shakadake is nature's kaleidoscope, and invites spectators into a different, enchanting world.