| Hokkaido

Romantic overflowing in Otaru! Night canal view and historical buildings

The Otaru canal runs in-between the town and the ocean. The Otaru canal, being as the symbol of Otaru, was lost in a landfill and only a part of it remained at it is today. The canal today reflects the past of Otaru that used to be a flourishing commercial city.
Otaru has such romantic events as “Otaru Snow Story” and “Otaru Snow Light Path” and a lot of wonderful and charming buildings, which Otaru is known for.
There are so many nice places to go with a date. It is a great city for couples to visit and of course you can have a lot of fun with your girlfriends.


Fantastic atmosphere created by night view

The Otaru canal is about an eight-minute walk coming straight down the hill from the Otaru station. Otaru is Hokkaido’s number one sightseeing spot and has a lot to see, but above all the night view is the most popular thing to see. When it gets a little dark, the streetlights along the canal start to be lit and it creates indescribably fantastic ambience.
Especially in winter, when the streetlights reflect on the snow, it looks more beautiful. There is an event called “Otaru Snow Light Path” to enjoy the fantastic scenery during the wintertime. The night walk along the canal naturally makes you feel very romantic.

Chic and trendy shops are in the historical buildings.

Along the canal there are plenty of shops that utilize the historical buildings. The Otaru warehouse No.1 has a restaurant where you can drink Otaru’s local beer, and the stone warehouse with a distinctive big triangular-shaped roof has Otaru Canal Restaurant. The Otaru Canal Restaurant contains eleven different restaurants and they serve Hokkaido’s special foods such as all-you-can-eat-Hokkaido-food style meal, Kaisen-don (bowl of rice topped with fresh “sashimi” seafood), and soup curry.
The Otaru Canal Plaza that used to be a Otaru warehouse has a tourist information, a gift shop, a coffee shop, and a gallery. There are people who can speak other languages and it is very helpful.

So fun to browse! Fancy goods shops.

When you come in one street from the canal, there also are a lot of shops that used to be historical buildings. The shops specialize in glass products, kimono, sweets and dyed-fabric items.
Here you see the Taishou Glass Palace which was used to be Takaburo Natori shoten (store) that was built in 1906 (Meiji 39) and the former Motosaburo Kaneko shoten (store) that was build in 1887 (Meiji 20) was remodeled as Otaru Rurikoubou (glass art gallery & shop). There are a lot of shops that sell Japanese-theme items. The atmosphere of the buildings may contribute to the types of the shops here.
On this street, there is Otaru Romankan that used to be the former Hyaku-jusan bank Otaru branch that was built in 1908 (Meiji 41) and many more shops that used to be historically significant buildings. Just strolling along the street is so much fun.
The historically important buildings were cleverly turned into fun and charming shops and you’ll love the atmosphere of their interior, too. There are countless cute accessories and interesting items. Just looking at them is so exciting.

For Otaru first-timers! Rickshaw is the way!

The macho men standing by the canal bridge are rickshaw men from Ebisuya rickshaw company. You might think you don’t want to spend money on a rickshaw but if you are Otaru first-timer, it is well worth more than the price.
The rickshaw is not just walking around the canal aimlessly. The rickshaw man explains about the history of Otaru and the canal, and interesting places and things to see along the way.
Once you are on the rickshaw, you will cover all the basic information of Otaru. He will give you the information of the current events, too. The rickshaw prices are from 3000yen for one person for one block of 1.2km (0.75mile), and they operate from 9:30 am to sundown.
If this is your first visit to Otaru, try a rickshaw ride.

Smart tip
  • The streetlights along the canal are gas lamps not electric lights. The gas lamps radiate a different atmosphere than that of electric ones.
  • Because the winter air is clean, the lights look even brighter. If you want to enjoy the night view of the canal, the winter is actually better than the summer.
  • The main event “Otaru Snow Light Path” takes place at the same time as the Sapporo Snow Festival. How about visiting both of them?
What's interesting

The shops and restaurants that utilize historical buildings in the vicinity use an ample amount of local ingredients. You could stay around here and eat all the Hokkaido’s delicious and special foods.