Sounds and scenery – Mysterious sounds from the frozen surface of Lake Nukabira

On January 6, the opening day of the pond-smelt fishing season on Lake Nukabira in the town of Kamishihoro in the Tokachi region, strange twanging sounds could be heard from the frozen surface of the lake.
On the day I visited to report on the fishing, there was very little snow cover on the lake, and the blue-green color of the water was visible through the 20-cm-thick sheet of transparent ice that covered the surface.
Ice bubbles and cracks in the ice could be seen, and a metallic sound could be heard continuously. Upon closer inspection, the sound felt as if it were resonated through my body, making me feel a little uneasy, even though people were fishing nearby.

According to the Higashi Taisetsu Nature Guide Centre, which organizes the ‘Nukabira lake-crossing tour’ in which participants walk to the Taushubetsu Bridge on the former National Railways Shibetsu Line, “The sound of the ice can only be heard after the lake has completely frozen over. It is thought to be due to the influence of the temperature and sunlight, but sometimes cannot be heard at all.”
The centre urges people who venture onto the lake to stay away from dangerous places such as thin ice, and to take precautions against the cold.
(Photo and words by Kato Tetsuro)

Lake Nukabira on which the ice bubbles appear. A mysterious sound echoes from the frozen surface of the lake. January 6, Kamishihoro


Lake Nukabira