Get out of the big city! Relaxing day at Otaru Canal

Otaru is a big, but quiet town near Sapporo, in Hokkaido. The name Otaru means ‘River of Sands’ in the native language of Ainu. It grew as a harbour and port town and during the early development of Hokkaido experienced a boom as it was one of only a small number of ports on the island. This has helped to create a rich history and variety of architecture and culture. Here are some highlights from my recent trip.

otaru_railwayThe Otaru to Sapporo line was the first in Hokkaido. Above is the now defunct Temiya line.

otaru_government_buildingOtaru, rather than Sapporo, used to be the most important city in Hokkaido. The town is full of buildings from this era, such as the Bank of Japan building.


There are also lots of old storehouses and shops around Otaruotaru_storehouse


Otaru Watch Tower has a very cute collected of tightly packed cafes and restaurants around it.otaru_genghis_khanSo I tried out Hokkaido’s famous Genghis Khan barbequed meat. Oishii!!


I then went for a walk along the canal.

 The main area was actually smaller than I thought, but if you continue north, there are other less built up canals as well.

Looks like a cool place? For more info, see out Otaru budget travel guide.

Published by Matthew Baxter

Matthew Baxter is a British travel author who has lived in and visited Japan for over a decade. Having traveled across the country, without much money, he has built up an extensive knowledge of budget travel here, and has also worked for many leading tourism companies. He also writes professionally for several websites and publications, such as the GaijinPot, All About and the Japan National Tourist Association.