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About Garinko II, the Icebreaking Ship

Garinko II, which you can see in the video titled "Aerial Footage. Drift-ice breaker Garinko II" (空撮 流氷砕氷観光船ガリンコ号2), is an ice-breaking sightseeing boat in Hokkaido designed as a successor to Garinko I.

Originally, Garinko I was a laboratory ship named “Okhotsk,” developed by Mitsui Shipbuilding for the purpose of oilfield development.
After experiments in 1985, it was turned into a sightseeing ship and renamed “Garinko” under the cooperation of Japan Marine Engineering and Mitsui Shipbuilding.
Garinko I was chartered to Monbetsu Port in Hokkaido in 1987, and it became the world's first ice-breaking sightseeing boat, accommodating 32 people.
Later it was renovated to a ship with two floors. By 1996, approximately 80,000 tourists had rode on Garinko I.

Image of Garinko

As you can see at 0:05 in the video, Garinko II, which entered service in January 1997, was designed as an ice-breaking ship with a total tonnage of 150 tons and 195 passengers.

Garinko II, manufactured in Yamanishi, is equipped with an Archimedean screw, a screw that when turned, allows it to break up ice as thick as 40 centimeters unhindered. You can watch the ship crushing the ice floe in this video.

A new ship is scheduled to enter service in 2021 that will operate alongside Garinko II.

The Garinko II Cruise Tours You Should Try

Image of Icebreaker

There are some different Garinko II cruise tours.
For example, you can try the “Sunrise Cruise” in the early morning; Garinko II departs from the port in the early winter morning before the sunrise. The scenery of the drift ice dyed in the morning sun is beautiful. Don't forget your camera!
In summer, you can enjoy fishing on the “Fishing Cruise.” You can rent fishing rods and buy bait before the cruise, so you don’t have to worry about bringing any fishing tools.

How to Enjoy the Garinko II Cruise

Tourists board Garinko II at the ocean exchange center called "Mombetsu Sea Station (もんべつ海の駅, Monbetsu Umi no Eki).”
In addition to the boarding area for Garinko II, this facility also has a tourist information center, Ramen Nishi, Seikomart, Cafe de Okhotsk, and Mink Creek (ミンクの小川, Minku no Ogawa), where you can grab a bite to eat before your cruise.

In addition, you can get to the observatory Okhotsk Tower by complimentary shuttle bus; You can get on the shuttle bus by booking a ride at the information center.
A cruise on the Garinko II costs 1,500 yen (~$15 USD) (750 yen for kids) in the summer and 3,000 yen (1,500 yen for kids) in the winter. Discount coupons are also offered, such as a JAF (Japan Automobile Federation) discount, so make sure to check them out before booking your cruise.

Okhotsk Tokkari Center: The Facility to Visit After Your Ice Breaking Cruise!

Image of seal

After the Garinko II cruise, you can go to Okhotsk Tokkari Center.

It consists of two facilities: Azarashi Land and Azarashi Sea Paradise, where you can see many seals. “Azarashi” means seals in English.
“Tokkari” is the Ainu word for seal, and more than 20 seals are kept in captivity to breed and protect them.
You can also feed the seals directly and take photos with them.

Summary of Ice-Breaker Garinko II

If you have a chance, we highly recommend the Garinko cruise to experience the history of the ice-breaking ship Garinko, and experience the grandeur of Hokkaido's natural beauty.

【Official Website】Okhotsk Garinkotower|en)

【Tripadvisor】Drift Ice Breaker Garinko II

Written By
Jan. 4, 2021
山本 孝(Takashi Yamamoto)
I've been a writer for seven years. I write articles on travel, food, and history.
Enjoy Cruising Through Winter Drift Ice on the Garinko II Cruise! You Don’t Want to Miss the Magnificent Nature of Hokkaido!
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