The very first activity we had upon arrival in Memanbetsu in the Shiretoko Peninsula is a short walk towards the Oshinkoshin Waterfalls. Hard to miss as it’s right by the coastal road if you’re driving towards Utoro. Short climb but slippery, as the snow has started to melt and grown icy. Like an old lady, I held on to the railing as I gingerly climbed, and then slid down. πŸ™„ I can imagine the gushing waters during Spring but I certainly didn’t mind seeing my very first frozen waterfall.

Oshinkoshin Falls

The next day, we did the drift ice-walking (yass!) followed by snow walking in the nature park after a lunch where we shucked our own uni (sea urchin) and then some. We did away with the snow shoes and simply walked a good half hour towards a promontory where the frozen Furepe Waterfalls looks majestic even in its frozen form against an unusual panorama of ice slabs floating off the Sea of Okhotsk. These ice floes drifting from Siberia and Sakhalin Island look so surreal and the frozen Furepe Falls is a bonus after a half hour walk from the Center. The park is home to deer, foxes and other wildlife. Walking it is the best way to appreciate the stillness of the “white beauty” surrounding us. Just had to remind ourselves not to stray from the path as some areas are thick with snow as deep as 2 meters. Certainly deeper in other areas. Now, you wouldn’t want to sink your shoes, your lower limbs or worse, your entire body, in there!

Best to come here to walk off a hearty lunch. The time we visited, we skipped wearing the snow shoes since the weather improved (from negative temps to zero Celsius 😜) and the walkways looked manageable. Also, our guides reminded us to wrap up good to stay warm. The forest trees, snow-covered Mountains, the frozen waterfalls and if you’re in luck, a deer or two, are waiting for those who love Nature. The stillness makes you feel warm and fuzzy. Yes, even in the dead of winter. You can’t take it home, but this scenery sparks joy 😊 The image clings to your memory and claims a spot in your heart ❀️

Spring here must look so cheery! All green, lush trees and flowers abloom. In winter, it offers an entirely different landscape. Not exactly gloomy, but the “stillness” is what will hit you. All in a good way. Walking in the forest bathed in white powder while snow flurries gently hit your cheeks is not your everyday activity. Still and quiet, but for those snowflakes landing on your face and the birds crowing as if reminding you to mind your steps.

The ice floes drifting in the Sea of Okhotsk which spills out to the Pacific Ocean is just mesmerizing. There are no dry suits to protect us now from this harsh weather. Just our 4 layers of clothing, fur-lined boots and warm company to keep us dry and cozy. Unlike other vistas, we don’t have the privilege of lingering to enjoy the beauty around us. Spending an hour is enough without risking frostbite. I wonder how Nature makes it possible for deer and foxes to stay out here. Even my brain won’t function properly. A case of brain freeze? For obvious reasons, the park grounds look so Christmas-y to me, pine trees and all. Only thing lacking is Santa πŸŽ…πŸΌ and a snowman ⛄️.