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A Day in Otaru: Exploring Hokkaido’s Hidden Gem

Traveling with family is always an adventure, and our second day in Hokkaido was nothing short of magical. After a pleasant night in Sapporo, we woke up excited for a day in Otaru. Known for its beautiful canal, charming streets, and delicious seafood, Otaru promised a day full of fun and exploration.

About Utaru

Otaru, a picturesque port city in Hokkaido, Japan, began as a small fishing village and gained prominence in the late 19th century during the Meiji era. Its strategic location on Ishikari Bay made it a vital trade and transportation hub, especially after the construction of the Otaru Canal in 1923. The city thrived on commerce, with its port becoming one of Japan’s busiest, particularly for coal and herring. This economic boom attracted businesses and led to the construction of many historic buildings that still stand today.

Following World War II, Otaru’s significance as a commercial port declined, but the city successfully transitioned to a tourism-focused economy. By preserving its historical sites and promoting cultural attractions, Otaru reinvented itself as a charming destination known for its beautiful canal, arts and crafts, and delicious seafood. Today, it offers visitors a blend of historical charm and modern attractions, making it a beloved spot for tourists from around the world.

A Day in Otaru with the Family

A Day in Otaru Begins

We started our journey from Sapporo Station, boarding the rapid train for a day in Otaru. The ride was comfortable and quick, taking just about an hour. The kids were thrilled to see the scenery change as we moved closer to the coast.

A Seafood Feast at Sankaku Market

Our first stop after arriving in Otaru was Sankaku Market, a bustling spot famous for its fresh seafood. The market was vibrant, with stalls showcasing enormous Hokkaido crabs, scallops, sea urchins, and massive bowls of ikura. The prices were as impressive as the seafood itself, with some crabs costing over 70,000 JPY! We couldn’t resist the temptation and sampled some of the freshest seafood we’ve ever tasted. The kids were fascinated by the variety and size of the seafood on display.

Seafood bowls at Sankaku Market Otaru

Strolling Along the Otaru Canal

Next, we made our way to the picturesque Otaru Canal. The walk was delightful, with various shops lining the streets. We indulged in a slice of Yubari melon, a local delicacy. The melon was priced at 800 JPY per slice, and whole melons can cost over 4,000 JPY, with the priciest pairs selling for more than 40,000 JPY. Eating the sweet and juicy melon with a spoon was a treat we won’t soon forget.

Discovering Sakaimachi Street

Our exploration continued along Sakaimachi Street, where we visited numerous glass workshops and music box stores. The craftsmanship was incredible, and it was a joy to watch artisans at work. One of the highlights was stopping by LeTao, a renowned dessert shop where we indulged in some of the best sweets we’ve ever had. We also visited the Otaru Music Box Museum, which enchanted both the kids and adults with its beautiful displays and melodies.

Walking down Sakaimachi St a day in Otaru

A Taste of Tradition at Tanaka Sake Brewery

Our adventure wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Tanaka Sake Brewery. We took a quick tour and enjoyed tasting their Junmai Ginjo sakes. The crisp and refreshing flavors were a perfect end to our sightseeing. It was interesting to learn about the brewing process and the tradition behind sake making.

Sushi and a Rainy Return

As our a day in Otaru came to an end, we made a quick stop at Sushi Restaurant Street near the train station. The sushi was fresh and delicious, a perfect farewell meal before heading back to Sapporo. As we boarded the train, the skies opened up, and it started to rain heavily. By the time we reached Sapporo Station, we were exhausted from walking over 9 miles, but our hearts were full of wonderful memories.

Back at the hotel, we enjoyed a quick bite and settled in for the night, reflecting on a fantastic day. Otaru had been a beautiful blend of culture, history, and culinary delights, making it a perfect family adventure. We couldn’t wait to see what the rest of Hokkaido had in store for us!

Exploring Otaru

Tips for Travelers

  • Transportation: The rapid train from Sapporo to Otaru is efficient and scenic. Make sure to check the schedule in advance.
  • Seafood Lovers: Sankaku Market is a must-visit. Be prepared for the prices, but the experience and taste are worth it.
  • Local Delicacies: Don’t miss trying Yubari melon. It’s an expensive treat but incredibly delicious.
  • Exploring Streets: Sakaimachi Street is perfect for leisurely walks and discovering unique shops.
  • Weather: Be prepared for sudden changes in weather. Carrying a small umbrella or raincoat can be handy.
  • Walking: Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll be walking a lot. The charm of Otaru is best experienced on foot.

Our a day in Otaru was an unforgettable part of our Hokkaido adventure. The mix of scenic beauty, culinary delights, and cultural experiences made it a perfect family outing. If you’re planning a trip to Hokkaido, make sure to include Otaru in your itinerary!

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