At minus 20℃, natural art is created by perfect natural conditions on the Sarufutsu River
Before sunrise in the height of winter, the temperatures fall to minus 20℃ in Hokkaido’s village of Sarabetsu.
During this time, the cold causes the river water to turn into steam and rise,
attaching itself to the branches of trees that grow along the river and turning back into ice.
The end result is a typical winter scene of ‘rime ice’, a harsh yet beautiful form of nature.
Rime ice is precious phenomenon
When the sunlight hits the ice covered trees, they sparkle like artworks made of glass and create a spell-binding sight.
The necessary conditions to form rime ice is a flowing river with a temperature of at least 20℃ below freezing point.
Places which have these conditions are usually difficult to access,
but Sarabetsu village is comparatively easy to reach and rime ice is a likely occurrence.
The rime ice can be seen every year from mid-January to early February, when the temperature drops just before sunrise until just after.
A wondrous sight as the color of the snowy landscape changes with dawn
Before the sun rises, when the sky lightens and turns white,
a bluish world appears with snow on one side and water vapor rising from the river on the other.
As the sun appears, the world changes from blue to vermillion, and finally turns orange.
It takes as little as 10 minutes to happen, and every second of this unforgettable sight is beautiful.
If you want a cool photo, bring telescope lens
For those who want to take pictures, the view spot for the river is about 100m away,
so a lens with a telephoto zoom is necessary.
During the period when the rime ice can be seen, sunrise is around 6:50am in Sarabetsu,
and it is best to arrive at the spot 30 minutes beforehand.
The rime ice is created by water vapor rising from the Sarufutsu River, so the best view spot is near the river.
There is a sign post on the way (along route 238), but there is no car park so please park along the side of the road.
Due to the early start, it is best to stay over in Sarabetsu village the night before at somewhere like the Sarabetsu Country Park
a rental cottage located at the roadside station.