Otaru: My Quick and Dirty City Guide
Otaru is a beautiful seaside city in Hokkaido about half-an-hour away from Sapporo. It is considered a tourist city even for the Japanese people. They are famous for their canal, sushi, crabs, glasswork, and surprisingly, music boxes. Easily accessible by train from both Sapporo and Chitose International Airport (1740 yen one-way), this is a must-stop side trip for any trip to Sapporo.
There are two main stops in Otaru; Otaru station (the main station) and Minami-Otaru station. In between the two stations is where the beautiful old town of Otaru is located. This consists of Sakaimachihondori St. and the Canal area. I suggest visiting the canal at night as this is a chance to take a very beautiful picture of the canal and the building surrounding it.
I am writing this quick mini guide a little too late, as I visited Otaru about 2 months ago, so my memory is a bit rusty (already!). Anyway, here are the places we stayed, ate, and did. I’ve also added some of my comments.
– Go to Sushi Street. To be absolutely honest, when I visited, there were not many places that were opened after 5 PM. I later found out that July is still considered low season. Stop at a random place, but it is considerably expensive and very tasty even for Japanese standards.
– Warehouse next to the Canal – across the street from a Bikkuridonkey is a warehouse, which has many types of restaurants. A pretty cool place to eat and sample different types of Otaru foods.
– Kaiten Sushi – on a street, which is parallel to the Canal and Sakaimachihondori St.
– Ice cream place – the only thing I can say about this ice cream is that it is right behind Hotel Vibrant (see below) and it has the craziest flavors. I had squid ink and uni flavor ice cream. My girlfriend had coenzyme Q10 flavor (it tasted like a mixture of clementine and lemon).
– I stayed at the Hotel Vibrant (1-3-1 Ironai), which is about a 10-minute walk from the main station. It used to be a bank, which was then refurbished into a hotel. Location and price wise, it’s pretty unbeatable. You are basically right in the middle of everything. There is also free basic breakfast (bread, coffee, tea) in the morning.
– Otaru Beer Hall (263-19, 3 Chome, Zenibako) – a Bavarian style brewery still owned and tended by a German. They have tours every hour; unfortunately, I cannot remember if they have non-Japanese tours. In addition, the beer hall serves all types of western foods.
– Hot spa – Can’t remember where it is exactly but it is the only onsen on Sushi Street. Beware, no one with tattoos is allowed.
– Glassmaking – K’s glassblowing and other places are available. I advise you to make reservations at least one or two days beforehand.
– Walking around old Otaru