HOME Hokkaido Otaru Local Writer’s Recommendation! Otaru Day Trip by Train from Sapporo
Local Writer’s Recommendation! Otaru Day Trip by Train from Sapporo

Local Writer’s Recommendation! Otaru Day Trip by Train from Sapporo

Date published: 9 July 2018
Last updated: 29 October 2018

From Sapporo, the center of Hokkaido’s main tourist spots, Otaru is a 30 to 40 minute train ride on JR or a 45 minute drive away. It is a sightseeing spot that you can casually visit on a day drip. Most major sightseeing sights in Otaru are around the Otaru Canal, which is a 10 minute walk from JR Otaru Station. Here is an Otaru day trip guide focused around the canal and other places that we strongly recommend to visit.

1. The First Place to Stop By: Otaru Canal

1. The First Place to Stop By: Otaru Canal

If you plan to go sightseeing in Otaru, you must go to the Otaru Canal. The canal was completed in 1923 when Otaru Port was the base of trade for Hokkaido. With the development of the harbor wharf, the canal isn’t being used for trade. However it is now a popular tourist location and the former glory of the canal and stone warehouses can be seen here.

Walking down Chuo Dori (Chuo Street) from JR Otaru Station towards Otaru Port for about 10 minutes, you will arrive at one of the three bridges going across the canal, Chuo-Bashi. Going east for 4-5 minutes from Chuo-Bashi to Asakusa-bashi, is the main walkway and highlight of the canal.

The cobblestone walkway, retro designed gas lamps, stone warehouses and rippling canal is all part of the charm for the canal. Enjoy the relaxing walk down the canal with the photogenic scenery.

Access: 10 minute walk from Otaru Station

2. Check Out the Canal Plaza Tourist Information Center First!

2. Check Out the Canal Plaza Tourist Information Center First!

The Canal Plaza Tourist Information Center is a 1~2 minute walk from Chuo-Bashi on Otaru Canal. Crossing the three lane bypass road and Rinkosen Street running parallel along the canal is the information center built in a former Otaru warehouse. Known as the Canal Plaza, this facility has a shop that sells local specialty goods, a retro care and a resting area.

At the International Information Center, you can gain sightseeing information from staff who can speak English, Chinese and Korean. There are maps of Otaru and nearby towns, and pamphlets in foreign languages. This is the perfect place to get some extra information before you head out.

  • Canal Plaza Tourist Information Center
    小樽市観光物産プラザ
    • Address 〒047-0031 北海道小樽市色内2-1-20 / 2-1-20, Ironai, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido, 047-0031, Japan
    • Phone Number 0134-33-2510

    Access: 8 minute walk from JR Otaru Station

3. Experience Art at the Four Historical Buildings of Otaru Art Base

From the Canal Plaza Tourist Information Center head southeast on the Rinkosen Street along the canal, the Stained Glass Museum is located at the section before the first stoplight. Four historical building including this is the Otaru Art Base.

The building along the Rinkosen Street is the Former Arata Trading Co. It is planned to be reopened as a café in mid-July 2018. The building behind it is the Stained Glass Museum

These buildings were built during the most prosperous era of Otaru and currently displaying various artwork.

The Former Takahashi Warehouse has been renovated into the Stained Glass Museum, which has many stained glasses on display that were used in British churches in the late 19th to early 20th century. The majestic sight will make you forget the time.

The former Hokkaido Takushoku Bank Otaru Branch has been renovated into the Nitori Museum of Art. It has Japanese paintings by Daikan Yokoyama and Gyodo Kawai, Western art by artists from Japan and overseas such as Ryusei Kishida and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and many exhibits of wooden sculptures by Mitsuun Takamura and his understudies.

The Former Mitsui Bank Otaru Branch has maintained the original interior, such as the safety deposit box vault and conference room, and is available for viewing. In the hallway with plaster sculptures you can also enjoy the screening of the projection mapping on with the theme of Hokkaido’s four seasons.

  • OTARU ART BASE
    小樽芸術村
    • Address 〒047-0031 北海道小樽市色内1-3-1 / 1 Chome-3-1 Ironai, Otaru-shi, Hokkaidō 047-0031
    • Phone Number 0134-31-1033

    Entrance Fee: 1,500 yen
    Hours: 9:30 AM ~ 5 PM (November to April 10 AP ~ 4 PM), admission is 30 minutes before closing
    Closed; none, closed on Wednesday from November to April (open on holidays and closed on the next day), temporary closure may take place
    Access: 10 minute walk from JR Otaru Station

4. Bank of Japan Otaru Museum - Which Formed the Wall Street of the North

4. Bank of Japan Otaru Museum - Which Formed the Wall Street of the North

Going southwest from Otaru Art Base on Nichigin Dori, which used to have many banks built along the street and was called the Wall Street of the North, you will arrive at Bank of Japan Otaru Museum in about 3 minutes. This building was designed by the architect Tatsuno Kingo, who designed the famous red brick Tokyo Station. He designed the building with a renaissance style that has a unique roof with 5 domes. In the facility they explain the history and duty of the Bank of Japan and go over the structure of finance.

The remnants of Otaru’s prosperous era can still be seen throughout the facility, such as the luxurious counter made with marble. Inside the heavy vault there is a section which can hold 100 million yen.

  • The Bank of Japan Otaru Museum
    日本銀行旧小樽支店金融資料館
    • Address 〒047-0031 北海道小樽市色内1-11-16 / 1-11-16, Ironai, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido, 047-0031, Japan
    • Phone Number 0134-21-1111

    Entry Fee: Free
    Hours: 9:30 AM ~ 7 PM (December to March 10 AM ~ 5 PM) admission until 4:30 PM
    Closed: Wednesday (open if it is a holiday), December 29th ~ January 5th, temporary closure may take place
    Access: 10 minute walk from JR Otaru Staion

5. Main Street for Touring Otaru: Sakaimachi Dori

5. Main Street for Touring Otaru: Sakaimachi Dori

Going northeast from the street in front of the Bank of Japan Otaru Museum, turning right at the first stoplight and crossing the bridge is another major sightseeing spot in Otaru, the Sakaimachi Dori (Street).

Along the 900 meter one-way street, there are many shops built in old merchant houses and western style buildings. There are glass craft workshops that represent Otaru, western sweets shops and even sushi shops. The street offers all forms of shopping and food unique to Otaru.

  • Sakaimachidori Shopping Street
    堺町通り
    • Address 〒047-0027 北海道小樽市堺町 / Sakaimachi, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido, 047-0027, Japan
    • Phone Number 0134-32-4111

    Access: 12 Minute Walk from Otaru Station

6. Representing Otaru’s Glass Craftwork: Kitaichi Glass Sangokan

6. Representing Otaru’s Glass Craftwork: Kitaichi Glass Sangokan

From the direction of the Wall Street of the North on Sakai Dori, head along the road 600 meters to the southeast, on your left is the Kitaichi Glass Sangokan. Kitaichi Glass is the most famous glass craft workshop in Otaru. The Sangokan (third shop) is located in a renovated stone warehouse, which is separated into three floors with matching theme products of Japanese, western and country.

If you want to include some Japanese essence into your daily life, head to the Japanese floor. For modernized old-fashioned oil lamps and other various styles, head to the country floor. If you prefer a lamp that resembles a stained glass with a foreign feeling, head to the western floor. There are many attractive craftworks for sale. A perfect place to buy gifts from Otaru.

Entrance Fee: Free
Operation Hours: 8:45 AM to 6 PM
Closed: none

7. Famous Hokkaido Sweets Shop, Rokkatei Otaru Canal Shop

7. Famous Hokkaido Sweets Shop, Rokkatei Otaru Canal Shop

50 meters south from Kitaichi Glass Sangokan is the Hokkaido sweets shop Rokkatei Otaru canal Shop. On the first floor they sell their famous Marusei Butter Sandwich (125 yen for one) and various western and Japanese baked sweets.

The café located on the second floor offers sweets that can only be enjoyed there. We recommend the Yukiya Konkon Majirikke Nashi (300 yen), which is a soft-serve ice cream with the Yukiya Konkon black cocoa biscuit on top. The rich milk flavored soft-serve ice cream with a fresh after taste is perfect for a break.

  • Rokkatei Otaru Canal Store
    六花亭 小樽運河店
    • Address 〒047-0027 北海道小樽市堺町7-22 / 7-22, Sakaimachi, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido, 047-0027, Japan
    • Phone Number 0120-12-6666

    Operation Hours: 9 AM ~ 6 PM
    Closed: None
    Access: 10 minute walk from JR Minami-Otaru Station

8. Treats Available Exclusively at Kitakaro Otaru Main Shop

8. Treats Available Exclusively at Kitakaro Otaru Main Shop

Next to Rokkatei Otaru Canal Shop is the Kitakaro Otaru Main Shop. Kitakaro is a famous sweets shop for items such as the Hokkaido Kaitaku Okaki (1 bag 170 grams 440 yen), and especially their big cream puffs like the Jumbo Pie-shu Yumefushigi (180 yen) and Jumbo-shu Kitano Yume Dream.

Another popular item is the Baumkuchen Mori no Yousei (1,296 yen for 4cm height, 1,944 yen for 6cm height and 2,592 yen for 8cm height), which was created as a souvenir for the opening of the Otaru Main Shop. (Photo above is 8cm size.) The chef carefully prepares each cake with perfect softness. Don’t miss out on the Otaru Honkan Baumkuchen Set (515 yen), which includes a soft-serve ice cream and a drink. The set is only available from May to the end of October at the café space in the shop.

  • Kitakaro Otaru Main Shop
    北菓楼 小樽本館
    • Address 〒047-0027 北海道小樽市堺町7-22 / 7-22, Sakaimachi, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido, 047-0027, Japan
    • Phone Number 0134-31-3464

    Hours: 9 AM ~ 6:30 PM (last order for drink 4:30 PM, last order for soft-serve ice cream 6 PM), winter period 9 AM ~ 6 PM (last order for drink 4:30 PM, last order for soft-serve ice cream 5:30 PM)
    Closed: January 1st
    Access: 10 minute walk from JR Minami-Otaru Station

9. Rare Sweets Only Available at the Main Store: LeTAO Main Store

9. Rare Sweets Only Available at the Main Store: LeTAO Main Store

Heading 50 meters south from Kitakaro Otaru Main Shop, about a 1 minute walk is the LeTAO Main Store. With a layer rich baked cheese cake and a layer of soft milky rare cheese cake, the Double Fromage (1,728 yen) is a popular menu with many orders nationwide.

The store facing thee sightseeing sight Marchen Crossroad, the second floor is a café where you can enjoy the view of the cityscape during teatime. The store offers limited menus such as the Rare Double Fromage and the Kisekino Kuchidoke Set (1,404 yen) which offers the Double Fromage and the rich crème brûlée Venice Rendezvous.

Operation Hours: 9 AM ~ 6 PM, Café 9 AM ~ 5:30 PM (will vary depending on the season)
Closed: None
Access: 5 minute walk from JR Minami-Otaru Station

10. A Must-See Photogenic Spot: Marchen Crossroads

10. A Must-See Photogenic Spot: Marchen Crossroads

The area around the stone lamp in front of LeTAO Main Store is the popular sightseeing spot Marchen Crossroads. The official name is Sakaimachi Crossroads and it is located at the end of the street. In the area there are many retro buildings like the LeTAO Main Store and Otaru Music Box Museum Main Building, which gives off a foreign feeling and also a perfect spot to take pictures. In front of the Otaru Music Box Museum Main Building there is a steam clock that blows the whistle every 15 minutes.

  • Marchen Crossroads
    メルヘン交差点
    • Address 〒047-0027 北海道小樽市堺町 / Sakaimachi, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido, 047-0027, Japan
    • Phone Number 0134-32-4111

    Access: 5 minute walk from JR Minami-Otaru Station

11. Nostalgic Space with Soft Music: Otaru Music Box Museum

11. Nostalgic Space with Soft Music: Otaru Music Box Museum

Across the street from Marchen Crossroad’s stone lamp square is the Otaru Music Box Museum Main Building. The renovated two story brick and stone building was originally built in 1912 as the main office for a rice dealer. The interior is made with Japanese zelkova, and the main hall’s ceiling height is 9 meters. Throughout the store there are many music boxes on display.

Glass Angel Music Box (2,700 yen)
Snow crystal music box (4,320 yen)
Steam clock music box (4,104 yen)

There are various music boxes made from different materials and shapes, such as wood, glass, and ceramic, or in shape of stuffed dolls and other characters. Have a look through the store and you might find a music box that might catch your attention.

  • Main Building of the Otaru Orgel Doh
    小樽オルゴール堂 本館
    • Address 〒047-0015 北海道小樽市住吉町4-1/4-1, Sumiyoshicho, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido, 047-0015, Japan
    • Phone Number 0134-22-1108

    Entrance Fee: None
    Operation Hours: 9 AM ~ 6 PM, (Friday, Saturday and holidays during July to September 9 AM ~ 7 PM)
    Closed: None
    Access: 7 minute walk from JR Minami-Otaru Station

12. End Your Trip with the Beautiful Night View of Otaru Canal

12. End Your Trip with the Beautiful Night View of Otaru Canal

How about viewing the night view of the Otaru Canal to finish off your day trip? From the Otaru Music Box Museum Main Building head east on the Marchen Crossroad and take a left at the first stoplight and head north on the Rinkosen Street for 10 minutes to return to Asakusa-Bashi bridge on the canal.

The canal walkway is equipped with 63 gas lamps that lights up the warehouses along the canal. The orange lighting on the canal gives a romantic vibe at night. Especially around the Asakusa-Bashi Bridge, the gentle curve of the canal and gas lamps provide a wonderful photo spot to finish off your Otaru tour.

Access: 10 minute walk from JR Otaru Station

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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