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Garinko No.III Imeru

Newest icebreaker Garinko No. III Imeru

Garinko No. III Imeru is the latest icebreaker owned by Okhotsk Garinkotower Co. located in Mombetsu, Hokkaido. Imeru means thunder or lightning in Ainu language. Ainu is the indiginious people of Hokkaido.

The predecessors were Garinko(original) and Garinko No.II, and the original debuted in 1987 as the world's first icebreaker specialized in drift ice tours. The successor of the original Garinko, Garinko No.II started its operation in 2003 and the third generation, Garinko No.III Imeru will commence its service from 09 January 2021.

Sea of Okhotsk is a home of Japanese drift ice scenery and the drift ice season starts from the end of January to the end of March. Well known drift ice tour in Japan is Abashiri, which is located south of Mombetsu but the history of drift ice tour by icebreaker started in Mombetsu 4 years earlier than in Abashiri.

However, icebreaker of Abashiri attracts 300 thousands tourists per season which is three times more than in Mombetsu. The first reason is that Abashiri has better connections to Tokyo and other cities out of Hokkaido than to Mombetsu. The second reason is that Shiretoko, World Heritage site is relatively close. On the other hand, Mombetsu has only a single daily flight between Tokyo Haneda airport and Mombetsu does not have a train station.

Anyway, despite of bad connection, Mombetsu is located north than Abashiri which means there is more chance to see and enjoy the drift ice.

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