On the northernmost island of Japan, a beautiful and serene natural phenomenon unique to this area happens every year. This island is called Hokkaido, and there's a river that runs along it called the Tokachi River. The ice that forms on the river breaks down and washes up on the Otsu coast of the town of Toyokoro. This ice is shaped by the ocean waves, so when it finally lands on the shore, it is smooth, transparent, and reflective, scattering the rays of the sun into colorful shimmers on the beach.
The Ice Jewels of Hokkaido
These melting gems appear only in January and February. As Peter Wadhams, an ocean physicist at the University of Cambridge says, another reason for the transparency of the jewels is the low percentage of salt in the water.
How to visit
As there's no public transportation in the area, you'll need to rent a car. It is about an hour's drive from Obihiro, an urban area, and a half-an-hour drive from the nearby town of Toyokoro. There is a parking lot near the riverbank. Visitors should leave their cars there and walk 5 minutes to the shore. A bridge called the Shiomi bridge will take you directly to the location.
Other attractions nearby
This coast is a little far away from any urban areas, so keep in mind that there is no convenience store around - only in the town. There are a few restaurants, including a traditional and cozy Ramen restaurant nearby. But for those of you looking for a bit more nature, there's the Kobukariishi Lookout. It is located on a 295 feet tall cliff that overlooks the entire coastal area.
A few more things to keep in mind
Remember to dress well for the occasion! The temperatures are freezing, and the winds at the beach or the lookout can be merciless. Don't forget your cameras and your good manners - this is a residential area in a very quiet small town that isn't used to the limelight. This natural phenomenon only came into the public's eye in 2015, when a local photographer uploaded a photo that went viral.