Hokkaido, The European Side of Japan Part 3

by - Desember 12, 2016

Hello! I was actually planning this post to be the last one but apparently it would be too long. So I decided to make this the third part and have my final part special for Sapporo city. This time I will share about the eastern part of Hokkaido: Abashiri, Okhotsk, and Akan Lake. Enjoy reading!

Day 5: Abashiri and Akan Lake
The 5th day in Hokkaido was my birthday! How great is that spending your birthday in the northern island? ;) That day we explored the eastern part of Hokkaido. Actually, the original plan was to visit Shiretoko National Park, but it was canceled because Hayashi-san said there was a warning of a lot of bears around and there is a possibility the park will be closed. Now you might realize how wild the nature in Hokkaido is, don't you?

So we went to Abashiri as our first destination. It was a day with a pleasant weather: we finally can enjoy the sun and the blue sky! Along the way, we found a flower field and decided to stop by for a while.



After happily explored the flower field, we move to our main destination: Okhotsk Drift Ice Museum. Hayashi-san explained to us that Abashiri is once a sub-prefecture but now the name is changed into "Okhotsk". Doesn't sounds Japanese at all, isn't it? However, later I found out that the name Abashiri is still used for a small city within Okhotsk prefecture.

The name Okhotsk was actually taken from the Sea of Okhotsk to which the sub-prefecture faced to. The sea is famous for its drift ice which shows up in mid to late January every year. Thus, a museum was made in this area to share the story of the ice as well as the story of ecosystem within the sea of Okhotsk.

Okhotsk Drift Ice Museum
The entrance
Inside the museum, there are aquariums that introduce creatures inside the Sea of Okhotosk, displays that explain everything about the Sea of Okhotsk and its drift ice, a video mapping of Sea of Okhotsk, and a movie room. Oh, and they have this special room with -15 degrees celsius! We were given a wet towel which freeze not long after we entered the room.
The display, unfortunately mostly in Japanese
Cute Okhotsk Sea Angel
Movie room
Inside the -15 degree celsius room
I can say I barely learned about the ice drift because most of the explanation were in Japanese. But I had fun anyway :) When we were done exploring, we went around the souvenir shop as well as the mini cafeteria in the museum. Before going home, I highly recommend anyone who visit this museum to taste its Sea Salt Ice cream! It was the best ice cream I ever had in my life (so far). And this comes from someone who cannot live without eat sweets a day, so I guess you might really want to consider this.

Sea salt ice cream

Details
Okhotsk Drift Ice Museum
Hours: Everyday, 09:00-16:30 (Nov-March), 08:00-18:00 (April-Oct), 10:00-15:00 (Dec 29-Jan 5)
Fee: 540yen

It was already lunch time, so we headed to a food court near to Abashiri Station shortly after we left the museum. The food court was in the coastal area of Abashiri Port, with a view to the ocean. There were several menu served, but since I read that Zangi rice bowl is one of local specialty, I decided to order one. Zangi rice bowl is actually specialty of Hokkaido, but here in Abashiri they have salmon instead of chicken like in other part of the island. The set is served with pickles, mussel soup and potato salad.

Abashiri Port
Abashiri Zangi Ricebowl
Full with an appropriate lunch, we continue our trip. Hayashi-san said he plan to take us to Akan Lake. But before that, we had opportunity to enjoy a mini-onsen in the middle of forest that belongs to Hayashi-san's friend. The onsen house looks like came out from Ghibli's movie: woody houses with dim light and classic furniture. Turns out Hayashi-san told his friend that day was my birthday, and he already ordered a cake for me. What a really unexpected cute surprise!
A happy birthday-girl with her cake and chocolate
We had nice tea time, and I was really impressed with a fact that Hayashi-san was so kind to a stranger like me :'''') The tea time was finished shortly after all the chocolate enter our hungry stomach. We then went to Akan Lake. Hayashi-san used his connection to let us enter a hotel space where they have garden with Akan Lake view. I am amazed how Hayashi-san can have so many relation with people all over Hokkaido - despite the distance that separate them. Anyway, the garden also has foot onsen - it warms us in the chilly Hokkaido weather.

Akan Lake from the garden


By visiting Lake Akan, our traveling experience with Hayashi-san officially finished. We had our dinner together when we arrived home, and we thank Hayashi-san and family for kindly having us. It was really nice travel/home stay experience in Hokkaido. Starting tomorrow, we will travel by our own in Sapporo!

Last dinner with Hayashi-san family

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