The port of Otaru developed around 150 years ago as the economic center of Hokkaido during the Meiji and Taisho periods (late 19th/early 20th century). It is now is one of Hokkaido’s leading tourist destinations. The canal and the bank buildings survive today just as they were during that historic period, giving the town its distinctive nostalgic and romantic feel. Take a walk along the canal and enjoy the atmosphere of a bygone era, or go browsing in Otaru’s glassware shops – the town is renowned for its glass products! Or else sample some of the unique fish and seafood dishes served in the restaurants around the port.
Otaru is located about 40 km west of Sapporo. It’s easy to get to by bus or train from Sapporo, so you can include it as part of any sightseeing trip you make to Sapporo. The main sightseeing spot is Otaru Canal, where you’ll find many historic buildings. As you walk around the area, you’ll feel like you’ve taken a step back in time. One of the most enjoyable things to do here is browse in the glass or candy and confectionery stores on Sakaimachi Street. Otaru is also an ideal base for a sightseeing trip to the Shiotan Peninsula, with its magnificent views of the sea, or even over to Yoichi, where the world-famous Nikka whisky company has a distillery.
Otaru Canal (“Otaru Unga”) is the central sightseeing spot in Otaru. It is 10 minutes by foot from JR Otaru Station. The main tourist attractions are all concentrated around the canal and Sakaimachi Street. They are easily accessible on foot. The best time to visit is in the summer, but the illuminations in winter are also well worth seeing!