The best time for going to see the picturesque naturally-forming ice sculptures, known as ‘shibuki-gori‘ is swiftly approaching! Lake Inawashiro is one of the only places in Japan where you can see shibuki-gori, so make sure to pay Lake Inawashiro a visit this winter!
What is Shibuki-Gori?
Shibuki-gori literally translates into English as ‘ice spray’. It is a natural phenomenon which occurs at Lake Inawashiro during the coldest winter days, when waves from the lake are blown by strong west winds onto trees and shrubs that line the waterfront.
This phenomenon only happens in very particular conditions – for example, the surface of the lake must not be frozen, but the air must be cold enough to freeze the water droplets soon after they make contact with the surrounding trees.
The shapes formed by shibuki-gori depend on the direction of the wind, the time of the day and outside temperature, but are also affected by a range of other factors, including the general climate of any given year.
Every single shibuki-gori ice sculpture is a unique shape – the sculptures change from day to day as well, meaning that each time you visit, you’ll be greeted with a different view! Other creations carefully crafted by Lake Inawashiro’s icy waves include ice rifts, which can occur in the frozen areas of the lake’s surface.
Where is Lake Inawashiro?
Lake Inawashiro, the 4th largest lake in Japan, is located in the centre of Fukushima Prefecture. It borders the central and western areas of Fukushima Prefecture, and serves as a gateway to Bandai Asahi National Park.
Where can I see Shibuki-Gori?
The best area for viewing Shibuki-gori is about 1km away from the Lake Inawashiro Tenjin-hama Public Car Park, if you walk in the direction of Shida-hama 志田浜 (near Inawashiro-kohan Station).
From the car park, you can follow the coast, or go via the footpath that passes through a wooded area. See the very rough illustrated map I made below.
When is the best time to see Shibuki-gori?
As mentioned above, the conditions for the formation of shibuki-gori are quite specific, and therefore the window in which you can view the sculptures depends on that year’s weather, among other factors. Usually, you can expect to see shibuki-gori between the end of January and end of February.
Due to the low temperatures reached this winter in Fukushima Prefecture, it is better to visit shibuki-gori in early February 2018 – so if you’re in the region and looking for something to do this weekend, this might be the perfect weekend trip for you!
- Wear waterproof footwear such as hiking boots or ski boots.
- It’s recommended to visit the ice sculptures in the morning!
- Accept in advance that you may get a little lost before you find the shibuki-gori!
- Stock up on some snacks and kairo (heat-pads) before venturing out along the coast.
- Once you’ve spotted the ice sculptures, keep heading in the same direction and see if you can spoke the lake’s famous swans, that migrate from Siberia every winter!
- Don’t forget your camera!
The Tenjin-hama Public Car Park is about 15 km (20 min by car) from the Bandai Atami IC Exit off of the Ban’etsu Expressway. It takes around 1 hour 15 mins to drive from Fukushima City to the car park (2 hours from Sendai).
What did you think about this post?
If you liked it, please leave a comment and sign up for email updates here!