The Mashu Maru excursion boat broke the ice on Lake Akan in Hokkaido's Kushiro ahead of the start of the sightseeing season for the lake, which is known for its rare "marimo" green algae balls. 
The ice-breaking operation, which is carried out by Akan Sightseeing Cruise Co. at this time of year, began on April 13. According to the company, the ice is somewhat thicker than last year at about 50 centimeters, due to a spell of cold weather in late March.

[Video by The Hokkaido Shimbun Press]

On April 17, the boat set sail at 10 a.m., and broke the ice with a booming sound against the background of snow-capped Mt. Oakan.
The boat started a special cruise through the ice on April 21 and will shift to normal operations on April 29.
"The cruise will allow you to fully enjoy the spring of Akan," says Michiyuki Kobayashi, planning manager at Akan Sightseeing Cruise.