HOME CULTURE Otaru, Hokkaido Trip Planning Guide

Otaru, Hokkaido Trip Planning Guide

Hokkaido is just one of the four main islands of Japan and due to the fact that it’s the furthest away from the other islands it’s often considered vastly different from all other’s islands combined with ravishing landscapes and alluring mountain remains with only 5 % of Japanese total population currently residing makes for an ideal traveling destination. Because of its exuberant history and the fact that major Financial companies once gathered in Otaru, it was once called the ‘’Northern Wall Street’’. Abundant with historical buildings made from the stone western style of architecture found across, Otaru certainly fills the hearts of millions of tourist who come each year to visit and let them witness its marvel for themselves, the reminiscent influences of northern Europe, various hot springs, canyons, waterfalls and railway tunnels with Otaru the peaceful main town of the peninsula are only a few of must-see sights while traveling here.


1.Sakaimachi Street

Sakaimachi Street in Otaru is a definitely one street you should visit. It is located in central area of Otaru just around the corner from the canal area. Many of the buildings here are largely influenced by the western style of architecture while Hokkaido was a trade port between Russia and Japan. Here along the street, you can find glass workshops with a lot of interesting ornaments tourists can buy. Also, you can get a lot of seasonal fresh seafood, the most impressive of is the Russian king krab which can grow up to a leg span of 1.8 m. You can even try to make your own glass objects like cups, bowls, and glasses for a small price.

2.The Otaru Aquarium

People who love animals will be very fond of the Otaru Aquarium which holds more than 5000 warm and cold fish varieties on display in over 70 large scale containers. You can also get to see Dolphins and Asian Sea otters which are so cute you will want to take a picture. In winter you can see penguins walking around and hang out with the seals during meal time, you can even arrange to feed them if you like. Right next to the Otaru Aquarium there is a huge amusement park should you decide to ride some of the interesting rides here along with a seating area and a restaurant The Otaru Aquarium is all around a great way to spend your day off and see lots of interesting animals.

3.Otaru Canal


Otaru has been an important landmark when in the early 20th century a lot of trade between Russia and Japan took place, this trade hub was during the Meiji Era and is now a city which perfectly reflects the legacy of Hokkaido beauty as it’s history. We highly recommend taking a canal trip both during the day and especially the night where the canal route is lit with 63 gas lamps, making that perfect romantic date. The canal also serves as the main site of the town’s Snow light festival which takes place every February when the city is simply illuminated and decorated with small snow statues for 10 days. There are two spots which are a walking distance from each other: the Unga Kaijo area and the Temiyasen Kaijo area which spreads a kilometer along the tracks of the abolished Temiyasen railway line. Both of these offer a spectacular display of statues and lanterns, symbolizing Otaru’s beauty and serenity.

4.Sankaku Market

While you are in Otaru we highly recommend visiting the Sankaku Market which is simply brimming with fish and fish products because if you ask anyone who has been to Hokkaido almost everyone agrees that the sushi tastes heavenly. It is located quite close to Otaru station. One dish which you absolutely must try Is kaisendon a Thinly-sliced sashimi with rice which may or may not include Fish Roe. The Sankaku Market has 17 stores but apart from fresh fruits and fish products there is not that much to shop here although melons are highly sought after because being grown in Hokkaido makes up for an exotic taste much different than the rest of the world ,also we would like to note that you should avoid visiting Sankaku market during lunchtime because it gets pretty crowded so come early in the morning to shop for some great sushi or the ever popular chirashi bowls.

5.The Historical Village of Hokkaido

No traveling experience can ever be complete without learning a bit of history and culture along the way, and when it comes to Hokkaido this is no exception. The historical Village of Hokkaido is an outdoor air museum built for the 100th anniversary of the Island in Nopporo Shinrin Koen Prefectural Natural Park. Here you can time travel to three important periods during Hokaidos’s frontier history: Taisho, Meiji, and Showa. As you may know by now Otaru’s is largely influenced by western culture and on this site, you will get to see more than 60 buildings made from those ancient periods while Hokkaido was still considered the Northern Wall Street but go even beyond that. The Historic periods are presented in four different sections: a fishing village, a town a farm village and a mountain village. Here at the museum itself the vibrant history and nature of Hokkaido are preserved and it’s a 10-minute walk from the open air museum. Depending on the season you came in you can either rent a horse trolly during a summer or a horse sled in order to get a better view on how exactly the Hokkaido looked like 100 years ago.

There are certainly more interesting spots to visit in Hokkaido and of course experience skiing as this is absolutely considered one of the favorite things Japanese people like to do while visiting. It’s interesting to see Otaru evolving from a trade hub to an almost symbol of Japan. Should you decide to visit you will be more than pleased to see how the trading island evolved into one of the most beautiful tourist resorts across the globe. Make sure to plan ahead of your journey so you can coordinate train rides across the island. Happy Trip!