Japan Coast Guard’s patrol vessel sails through the Sea of Okhotsk off the Abashiri coast in Hokkaido, on the day that the appearance of drifting ice on the horizon was announced on Jan. 28. (Video by Mitsuru Matsui)

ABASHIRI, Hokkaido--The arrival of the natural spectacle of drift ice winding through the Sea of Okhotsk off the Abashiri coast here was made official on Jan. 28.

The Abashiri Local Meteorological Office’s announcement came seven days later than in an average year and three days earlier than last year.

The white belt of drift ice on the horizon about 20 kilometers off the Abashiri coast was visible to the naked eye at around 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 28.

The drift ice is likely to move closer to the land around Jan. 29, the observatory said.

Smaller amounts of drift ice first appeared on Utoro beach in nearby Shari earlier in January, but was not officially recorded by the local office.