Visitors cheer first sunrise from Bihoro Pass

Visitors viewing the first sunrise from Bihoro Pass. 6:55 a.m. on Jan. 1.

The Okhotsk region welcomed the New Year with clear blue skies on January 1, and the first sunrise could be seen in many places. Many people gathered at Bihoro Pass and Mombetsu Port before dawn.

On January 1, the observatory at the ‘Gurutto Panorama Bihorotoge’ roadside rest area on the Bihoro Pass was filled with families and people with cameras. The town of Bihoro was bitterly cold that morning, with temperatures of minus 20.2 degrees recorded at 6 a.m. and minus 21.4 degrees at 7 a.m. People could be heard gasping with delight as the dazzling sun appeared from behind the mountains in the background of Lake Kussharo at 6:55 a.m. They then celebrated the long-awaited New Year sunrise by taking photos and joining both palms in prayer.

 At Mombetsu Port, a New Year’s Day cruise on the Garinko-Go III IMERU icebreaker cruise ship was held to enable passengers to enjoy the first sunrise. A total of 170 people from all over Japan, including Hokkaido, Tokyo and Osaka, participated in the cruise.
The ship departed at around 6:30 a.m. and waited off the coast of Mombetsu amid a phenomenon called ‘kearashi,’ in which the difference between the temperature of the cold air and that of the sea causes the vapor that rises from the sea to look like steam. When the sun appeared at around 7 a.m. and the sky turned red, the passengers aboard the ship took pictures with their cameras and smartphones. Many commented that it was “so beautiful” and that they were “glad to have seen it.”

“We were happy to see the first sunrise with the mystical kearashi,” said a couple visiting from Sapporo, “we were worried because of the bad weather forecast, but we were able to see it, so this year is going to be a good one,” they smiled. The Garinko Icebreaker began normal operations from January 15.

Passengers taking commemorative photos on the Garinko-Go III IMERU icebreaker cruise ship, with the first sunrise in the background. 7 a.m. on Jan. 1.


Bihoro Pass Observatory