How to Enjoy Icebreaker “Garinko-go” and Drift Ice Adventure in Monbetsu

The best way to see the magnificent drift ice of the Sea of Okhotsk is undoubtedly from the deck of a ship! While drift ice tours are available from both Abashiri and Monbetsu, Monbetsu offers a unique icebreaker experience.

Introducing the “Garinko-go”

The “Garinko-go,” named after the Japanese word “garigari,” which describes the crunching sound of ice being crushed, is an extraordinary vessel that powers through the drift ice with its enormous front-mounted augers. The sheer power and spectacle of this icebreaker must be experienced firsthand, so be sure to try it for yourself!

An Icebreaker Like No Other

When the drift ice pushes into the harbor, regular fishing boats are trapped, but not the Garinko-go. Equipped with two massive screws at the front, it crushes the ice and sails forward, offering an unparalleled adventure.

Sailing Schedule

The Garinko-go operates from mid-January to the end of March, depending on the ice conditions each year. For the latest schedule and details, visit the official Garinko-go website.

Garinko-go Official Website

There are two ships: Garinko-go II and Garinko-go III IMERU, each offering four trips daily, with two in the morning and two in the afternoon. Additionally, the Garinko-go III IMERU offers a special Sunrise Cruise on select days, departing between 5:30 and 6:30 AM to enjoy the drift ice under the rising sun.

For precise schedules and to make a reservation, check the website:

Garinko-go Booking

Let’s Set Sail!

The Garinko-go III IMERU, the latest addition to the fleet, can accommodate 235 passengers. As you depart, you’ll be waved off by the friendly port staff. The anticipation builds as you wonder what kind of drift ice you’ll encounter.

Typically, the voyage lasts about an hour, but if the ice is further out, the trip may extend to 90 minutes. Shortly after leaving the port, you’ll see drift ice surrounding the ship. The massive augers at the bow start crunching through the ice, making for a thrilling spectacle. This robust vessel carves large circles through the ice, pushing forward regardless of the conditions.

Time Before or After Your Cruise?

If you find yourself with extra time before or after your Garinko-go adventure, consider visiting the nearby seal sanctuaries. The Seal Land and Seal Sea Paradise are just a short distance away.

Seal Land is Japan’s only facility dedicated to rescuing and caring for seals that appear along the Okhotsk coast during the drift ice season. You can observe around 20 seals being fed and cared for, with informative commentary from the keepers.

At Seal Sea Paradise, you can take photos with the seals and even participate in feeding them. Both activities require reservations due to limited spots, so be sure to check availability.

For daily updates on these adorable seals, visit the Seal Sea Paradise on X:

Seal Sea Paradise on X

Experience the cuteness of the seals updated daily!