Dec 262017
 

December 2017

Otaru CanalOtaru is a lovely little town situated on Ishikari Bay of the Sea of Japan. It was an Ainu (native peoples of Hokkaido) settlement, and the name “Otaru” is recognized as being of Ainu origin, possibly meaning “River running through the sandy beach”. Otaru was recognized as a village by the bakufu (The shogun’s officials were collectively the bakufu) in 1865, and in 1880 the first railway line in Hokkaido was opened with daily service between Otaru and Sapporo.

Historic Buildings of Otaru

A former Millet store, this delightful building dates to the Meiji period of Japan. 1909

An Imperial decree in July 1899 established Otaru as an open port for trading with the United States and the UK.

The city flourished with herring fishing and was once the center of the economy of Hokkaido.
Otaru once called “Northern Wall Street was also a central banking and financial center.

architecture of Otaru

Natori Takasaburo a metals merchant and hardware trader from Yamanashi prefecture built this store with attached living quarters in 1906. The exterior walls are made of Sapporo soft stone. This is an excellent example of commercial architecture of the later Meiji period

Otaru is a major station on the JR Hakodate Line, making it very easy to get to from Sapporo. There are at least five trains per hour, a one-way trip is ¥640 and the fastest train takes around 30 minutes.

The canal was completed in 1923 to aid in getting goods, via smaller boats, from the ships to the warehouses that line the canal. It is just a 10-minute walk from Otaru Station.

Otaru architecture in Japan

This building stands in the center of town and was a warehouse for Mukai Kimono Shops branch store. It is one of the few brick warehouses built in Otaru. Because of a large fire that swept through the town in 1904 the building used thick earthen fire doors on the interior of the windows.

the glass of Otaru JapanThe area is also known for its glass blowing so the biggest things to do are shop at the tourist stores along Sakaimachi road and eat fresh fish. You can find fresh fish stores and chose your own or dine in one of the hundreds of restaurants serving fresh sushi. It is crab season in Japan, so fresh crab abounds in all of the restaurants.

You can also find several fish stores throughout town that will grill the fish right there

You can also find several fish stores throughout town that will grill the fish right there

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You can also take boat rides on the canal, sadly the snow and winds were too heavy the day we were there and they were not running.

Otaru River Cruises

Shopping in Otaru

The shops of Sakaimachi Street

There are two quasi covered malls, while not the greatest stores, it does offer a respite from the snow and wind if needed.

There are two quasi-covered malls, while not the greatest stores, it does offer a respite from the snow and wind if needed.

Small sushi restaurants can be found hidden off a side alley from one of the covered malls.

Small sushi restaurants can be found hidden off a side alley from one of the covered malls.

When the sun goes down lights come out on the canal

When the sun goes down, lights come out on the canal

Otaru Japan

If you have the chance to visit in February, don’t miss the snow light festival.

Otaru snow light festival