Home > Japan, Travel > Japan Hokkaido Trip 北海道 – Day 5

Japan Hokkaido Trip 北海道 – Day 5

SOUNKYO GORGE 層雲峡峡谷

Sounkyo’s Gorges which stretch for 24 kms along the Ishikari River feature a number of waterfalls.   Down in the valley, 3 kilometers from Sounkyo, there are 2 most beautiful and famous waterfalls:

Ginga (Milky Way) Fall 银河, with its 120-meter slender descending line of water like a white snake.

Gin ga (Milky Way) Waterfall 银河

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“Man” Waterfall

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“Husband” Waterfall

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Ryu sei (Shooting Star) Fall 流星, with its fierce 90-meter drop, which can be viewed from a small observation deck reached via a steep walking trail, about 10-15 minutes walk from the parking lot.

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Ryu sei Waterfall 流星

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Shooting Star Waterfall 流星

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The contrasting shapes of these two water falls have earned them other names “Man and Woman Falls” or “Husband and Wife Falls”.

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MONBETSU 紋別市

Monbetsu, the third largest city in Hokkaido is located in north-east of Hokkaido, the northern most area of Japan (facing the Sea of Okhotsk).  The name comes from Ainu Mopet (Quiet River).

The shore line spreads to the south-east in the shape of a bow.  The harbors are important not only to Hokkaido but also to Japan.  Its harbors are surrounded by gently sloping mountains and farm lands cover the region.

The Sea of Okhotsk is One of the Four Largest Fishing Grounds in the World

The Sea of Okhotsk is one of the four largest fishing grounds in the world.  Fisheries in Mombetsu have been making the most of these rich resources and the marvelous natural port of Mombetsu. Fisheries have played an important role as a mainstay industry in Mombetsu throughout its history.

Most of Monbetsu’s economy is dedicated to fishing for cold-water species such as crabs and scallops. The Snow Crab from Monbetsu is reputably the best in Japan, and is such a source of town pride that a Sculpture of a Crab Claw nearly 10m tall was built on the waterfront.

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10m Tall Crab Claw Sculpture

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Monbetsu is also famous for Drift Ice, a yearly phenomenon which reaches the city every January or February when drift ice moving south from Siberia, Russia touches its shores.  Therefore, the city has taken on the drift ice as its symbol and has become a center for research on sea ice generally, with an international conference held in February (usually the time of peak sea ice) each year.

An ice breaker ship, the Garinko-go II, departs from nearby and makes regular sightseeing cruises through the drift ice during winter.

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Ice-breaker Ship – Garinko-go II,  the “drill” in front is for breaking the ice.

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There is also a yearly Drift Ice Festival that coincides with the Sapporo Snow Festival.  The festival features impressive sculptures built out of drift ice along with a large ice maze.

The city has an estimated population of only about 25k and the total area is 830 km².  From east to west: 34 km and from south to north: 40 km

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CRABS FISHING

Our first activity in Monbetsu was Crabs Fishing, specially arranged by the Hotel oh, so touch.  It’s was fun.

Snow Crab, only have 6 Legs + 2 Claw

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Crabs Fishing Time

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A lot of Crabs

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These are the Activities arranged by the Hotel, specially for Chan Brother Tour Group:

  1. Warmth Welcome sign
  2. Crabs Fishing
  3. Learn Mo Zi making process

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Then we proceed for our Japanese Lunch.

Delicious Japanese Scallops Lunch in Hotel

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Delicious Scallop Pork Hot Plate

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OKHOTSK TOWER 鄂霍次克海塔

The Okhotsk Tower is world’s first underwater drift ice observatory.  As well as replicas, you can see all kinds of sea creatures in their natural habitat at 7.5 Meters Below Sea Level all year round.

Okhotsk Tower & Drift Ice Museum

Beautiful Yellow Star Fish

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The Sea Water looks Cloudy through the Window

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Star Fish

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Hairy Crab

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Famous Snow Crab

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Fish with sharp teeth

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Can you See Where are the Fish

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You can also find a kiosk on the first floor, a Film Hall on the second floor and a 360-degree Observation Lounge on the third floor, where you can see all the way from the sea to the Shiretoko Mountains.

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Relax life

Relax life

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OKHOTSK SEAL CENTRE 鄂霍次克海豹中心

Okhotsk Seal Centre


Okhotsk Seal Centre (Tokkari Centre) is the one and only specialty care center for injured seals in Japan.   Injured seals and lost baby seals are taken for rehabilitation here, and release back to the Sea of Okhotsk when they are recovered.  A small transmitter or tracking device will be fix on the Seal for continuous monitoring, will safe them back to the centre when they are in danger or having health problem or unfit to nature habitat.

This little Seal is going to Release back to Sea on 2 July 2011

The Seals are also helping the tourism industry and animal education in Monbetsu.  They do funny tricks like rolling over, slapping their bellies to say goodbye and taking photos with us!  This center keeping about 25 seals now.

A Conservation Centre for Seal Life and Protection

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The Seal Enjoy our Touching

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Seals were called Tokkari by Aborigines of Hokkaido

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There are 4 species of seals living in the sea, they are Spotted seal, Ringed seal, Bearded seal and Ribbon seal. They live close to the coastline of Monbetsu with the Drift Ice in the winter season.  Baby seals are born on the Drift Ice.  They are white.  If you are lucky, you may see baby seals on the coast in early spring.

Feeding Time

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OKHOTSK DRIFT ICE MUSEUM 鄂霍次克流冰博物馆

Mombetsu is home to the newly built Drift Ice Museum, which covers all aspects of sea ice and features a sub-zero room, where you can experience -20ºC temperature, “Frozen Aquarium” of various fish preserved in ice and Drift Ice Botanical Garden.

Drift Ice Museum 流冰博物馆

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Bear bell tower, opp the Drift Ice Museum

After change to their woolen coat, we went in to see the mystery of drift ice in a minus 20ºC environment.  We catch a glimpse of the mysterious creature, “Ice fairy”, try blowing “ice bubble” and experienced hand towel’s frozen in a second.  Inside was very cold, everybody can not “tahan” the cold, quickly see and came out, hehe.. I’m the last one who came out oh. :p

Frozen Aquarium

After that, we experienced the true-to-life visuals of Astrovision, the audio-visual hemisphere!  Magnificent views of drift ice filmed from the sky, the coastline with a riot of flowers!  Each of the four Okhotsk seasons is spread over the entire dome, giving 360-degree visibility.  The show time is about 15 mins.

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SEA ANGELS

Cute Sea Angels Aquarium

Sea Angel is a sea creature related to sea slugs and they really live up to their names as angels.  They have these tiny wings, which they flap front and back for motion.  The whole body was transparent, except for the red heart.  And they have something which looked like horns, but the whole thing really looked like an angel and they only survive in cold waters, very cute.

Beautiful Sea Angel

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Beautiful Flower

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Drift Ice Museum

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Tonight, we have Japanese Dinner with Hairly Crab plus our special order Snow Crab Sashimi which cost us 14K yen.

Our Special Order – Sashimi Snow Crab and Steam Crab

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Fried Salmon

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MAKE BOTAMOCHI

After dinner, we learn how to make Botamochi or Ohagi.  Botamochi is made by sweet rice and sweet azuki (red bean) paste.  First, soak the sweet rice for approximately 6 hours to let the rice fully absorb the water.  When rice is cooked, let it steam for 15 minutes.

Cooked Sweet Rice

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The Staff Mash the Rice with Wooden Pestle

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Mash the Rice with Wooden Pestle

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We Take Turn to Mash the Rice

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The Wooden Hammer is Very Heavy oh

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After that mash the rice with wooden pestle until sticky.  Wet your hands with water (to make it less sticky) and shape the rice into oval shaped ball and a thick azuki paste is hand-packed into pre-formed balls of rice.

Shape the Rice into Small Portion

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OWN TIME OWN TARGETS

PACHINKO PARLORS

What is Pachinko?  And why Pachinko is so famous in Japan??

Pachinko is a mixture of slot machine and pinball.  The player is only controlling the speed with which many small steel balls are thrown into the pachinko machine, few will find their way into special holes.  This activates a kind of slot machine.  Like with slot machines, you win if the same three pictures appear then you win countless new balls.

Pachinko Parlors

If you win balls, you can exchange them into goods that are available in the parlor’s gift shop.  Or you can also bypass the law that prohibits gambling in Japan by exchanging the balls first into some special goods and then exchange them for cash at a small window just outside the parlor.

Pachinko Game

It looked interesting, so we put in 1000 yen and we just lose all the balls within a few minutes.

Actually, we don’t like the atmosphere inside parlor, it was loud and smoky.  We prefer to have some fresh and cool air.

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ONSEN TIME

Haha…  Is time to enjoy Onsen.  I particularly like the one which equipped with a Jacuzzis.  However, this Onsen is my favorite among the three Onsen that were included in this tour.

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Link: Hokkaido Trip Day 1

Link: Hokkaido Trip Day 2

Link: Hokkaido Trip Day 3

Link: Hokkaido Trip Day 4

Link: Hokkaido Trip Day 6

Link: Hokkaido Trip Day 7

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