Otaru Winter Adventure: A Day of Exploring Top Attractions and Savoring Local Cuisine

Otaru | Day Trip

Otaru is a small harbor town. As one of the early seaports in Hokkaido, Otaru is a small city with a hundred years of history and culture. When you come to Otaru, you can spend half a day or a whole day walking around the first Hokkaido Railway, the Otaru Canal, the Triangle Market, the Izumo Road, the Nitsuko-kan, the Music Box Hall, and, of course, you can't forget about Otaru's famous sushi and beer. Otaru andSapporo, JapanIt is a 30-minute train ride, so it's a great way to fit a day trip into your Hokkaido itinerary.

This day trip started from the JR station, went to the Triangle Market, then to the Otaru Canal, followed the canal all the way to Sakai-machi Hondori, saw Northern Wall Street, visited the Whistle Museum and the Music Box Hall, and then went back to the Otaru Warehouse No.1 next to the canal to have Otaru Beer after having a dinner at Masa Sushi.

JR Otaru Station
JR Otaru Station

Otaru Accommodation Comparison

Otaru Attractions | Triangle Market

The Triangle Market is a famous seafood market in Otaru. It is located right next to the JR station and you will find it on your left as soon as you get out of the station. Like all other Hokkaido seafood markets, it is crowded with tourists who are looking for fresh seafood. The triangular market is filled with live seafood vendors and restaurants, and the hairy crab sellers look especially busy. The two most crowded stores are Takeda Fish Shop and Takinami Shop, both of which have huge queues. We chose to have our brunch at Takinami store before heading to our next stop.

Triangle Market | Takinami Canteen

Takinami Eatery is located in Otaru's Triangle Market, and as the most popular eatery in the Triangle Market, there is a long line of people outside.

The four-color seafood don includes sea urchin, salmon eggs, shrimp and crab, and I also ordered scallop, conch and fish. The seafood was all fresh. It is worth mentioning that the soup here is crab miso.

Otaru Attractions | Teshiguya Line

The Teshinomiya Line was Hokkaido's first and Japan's third railroad, and although it was taken out of service in 1985, most of the railroad remains have been preserved as a city park. The Teshinomiya Line is one of the main venues for the Snow Festival, along with the Otaru Canal.

Otaru, Otaru Day Trip 6
Teshiguya Line Railway

Otaru Attractions | Otaru Canal

Otaru Canal is the representative attraction of Otaru. Completed in 1923, the canal faithfully supported port transportation until 1986, and now the whole line is a walking path. On one side of the canal, you can still see the rows of shipping warehouses left over from the past, and the streets are still lined with gas lamps that were installed in those days. During the daytime, the canal is full of tourists strolling along it, and at night, when the gas lamps are lit up, it is especially romantic.

Otaru, Otaru Day Trip 7
Otaru, Otaru Day Trip 8
Otaru Canal at Night
Otaru Canal at Night

Otaru Viewpoint | Izabatsukoji Road

After crossing the Asakusa Bridge, you will come to Izubakoji. It is called Izubashi-koji because it used to be a place where canal boats unloaded their cargo, but now it is a food court with many restaurants. Because of its vintage style, it's a nice place to stroll around without eating here. On the second floor, you can go up for a tour, and there is an introduction to the history of the area.

extricate oneself from a difficult situation
extricate oneself from a difficult situation
extricate oneself from a difficult situation

Otaru Attractions | Northern Wall Street | Old Otaru Branch

Otaru was an early seaport, and international trade flourished, so many banks were established early on. The rows of banks were so many that it became known as the Wall Street of the North. Nowadays, these European-style buildings are no longer used as banks, but have been converted into art museums and coffee shops.

First Bank Old Branch
First Bank Old Branch
Otaru, Otaru Day Trip 9

The old Otaru branch of the Bank of Japan, which was located on Bank Street, is now a financial museum that is free to visit. The building of the former Bank of Japan itself was designed by Tatsuno Kingo, a famous architect who designed Tokyo Station, and the Bank of Japan spent more money on this building than on its Tokyo and Osaka branches. The inside of the museum is also very interesting, and I recommend visiting.

Old Japanese Bank Counter
Inside the old Bank of Japan, you can still see the old window.

Inside the museum, there are displays that introduce the financial history of Otaru and Japan, and you can learn a lot about banknotes and financial operations by browsing carefully. Inside the museum, there is a real vault where visitors can see a mountain of Japanese yen banknotes. There is also a 100 million yen banknote in a plastic box, so visitors can experience what it is like to hold 100 million yen in your hands.

The mountain of money in the vault.
The mountain of money in the vault.

Otaru Attractions | Sakaimachi-dori Shopping Street | Taisho Nitsukan | Kitaichi Nitsukan

Sakaimachi-dori is a popular shopping street in Otaru, where Otaru's famous pastry shops, snacks, and glassware stores are located.

Otaru, Otaru Day Trip 10
Otaru, Otaru Day Trip 11

Otaru is famous for its handicrafts, and the glass industry has been developing for more than 100 years. From the production of oil lamps in the beginning to glass cups and decorative items in the later years, a visit to Otaru to see the glass crafts has become an indispensable part of a tourist's itinerary. The most famous glass craft stores are Taisho Nitsukan and Kitsuichi Nitsukan.

Taisho Nitsukan
Taisho Nitsukan
Kitanichi-Nitsuko-kan outlet
Otaru, Otaru Day Trip 12

Kitanichi Nitsukan is the largest, and there are 20 branches of Kitanichi Nitsukan, each with a different theme, and the works are exquisite and gorgeous. This time, I went to the main store and the No.3 store, the main store is mainly specialized in western lamps and handmade glass, while the No.3 store, the most famous store, is divided into four districts, with very beautiful oil lamps and all kinds of handicrafts. The store is said to be an arts and crafts store, but with its scale and distribution, it is somewhat like a museum, so if you like to browse arts and crafts, you can easily spend an afternoon there.

Another famous Otaru handicraft is the music box. Otaru Music Box Hall is Japan's largest music box specialty store with three halls. There are three halls. The main hall has more than 3,400 kinds of music boxes, making it easy to browse around. The second museum is an antique museum with many large antique music boxes on display.

Otaru Music Box Hall
Otaru Music Box Hall

Most stores on Sakai Machi-dori close at six o'clock, and the crowds die down after dark.

Otaru, Otaru Day Trip 13

Otaru Gourmet | Masu Sushi

When you visit Otaru, you must try the sushi shakshouka. Otaru Port is known as the "treasure trove of fish" because of the large amount of fresh seafood delivered directly to the port. If you've seen the manga Shota's sushi, you'll never forget the name Otaru. Many of the old sushi restaurants in Otaru are famous, so be sure to make a reservation early. We had dinner at Masu Sushi, which is said to be the prototype of Masu Sushi that appeared in Shunta's Sushi, and even the chef looks a bit like Shunta's older brother!

Political Life Division
Political Life Division
The sushi chef.
The technician was very professional and had a good sense of humor.

Masu-sushi is the highlight of our visit to Otaru, so we wrote a letter in Japanese to make a reservation and got a seat at the bar before we left for Otaru. According to our experience, there is a menu in Japanese only, which is a bit different from the usual menu, and we ordered sashimi, grilled fish, and 12 kanji sushi as a set menu. Although the chef didn't speak English, he was very funny and used exaggerated body language while squeezing the sushi, but his sushi squeezing skills were not sloppy at all. Their favorites are the tuna sushi and the sea urchin sushi.

Otaru Gourmet | Otaru Warehouse No. 1

Walking along the canal is romantic, but what's more comfortable is drinking beer along the canal. Otaru beer is very famous in Japan and is made in the German tradition, using only malt, hops, yeast and Otaru's local water, with no other additives.Otaru Warehouse No.1Opened in an old warehouse, the brewery was converted into a brewery and also operates a beer bar.

Otaru Warehouse No.1
Otaru Warehouse No.1

If you come before 5:40pm, you can join the free brewery tour. We came at night, so we had to sit by the equipment and drink beer. The good thing is that the Otaru Canal looks more romantic at night.

Otaru Warehouse No.1 Night View
Night view from your seat

The Otaru Warehouse's No.1 beer is a must-see in Otaru. Otaru Beer is a traditional German beer made from malt, hops, yeast, and Otaru's local water, with no other additives. There are three types of beer, pilsner, donker, and weiss, and we chose pilsner and donker for our in-house meal. pilsner is the most popular type of German beer, and you can't go wrong with pilsner, which is refreshing and smooth, and donker, which is like a dark beer, with a strong malt flavor. The food served inside the restaurant is the same as what you would find in a German beer house, such as German sausages, twisted bread, etc. We ordered the German sausage and bread from the restaurant. The meal we ordered this time was baked potato. The taste of the baked potatoes made me feel like I was back in Germany.

You can drink draft beer internally or take away canned beer. The beer is really good, and the store also sells bottled beer, so I bought half a dozen cans of various flavors to take with me, and spent the next few days of my trip during the New Year's holiday with Otaru beer and a few open snacks. It's a great accompaniment to takoyaki or mousse. However, beer is prone to yeast damage if it is transported, and it has to be kept below 24 degrees, so it's best to drink it all during the trip.

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