After ticking off one of the items in my bucket list which is to ski at Niseko, we then moved to another exciting city in Hokkaido. Otaru is a small harbor city that is known for glassworks, sake distillery and music boxes. You have three options to reach Otaru from Kutchan: train (1 hour and 19 minutes travel); taxi (50 minutes) and drive a car (50 minutes). Taxi in japan is very expensive so for tourists especially traveling the same route as this, riding a train using JR Hokkaido Pass is the best option.
We arrived at Otaru past 8 PM and checked in at our hotel. I had a terrible headache that night so i dozed off early so that i will be recharged the next day. I always bring medicines in my travels but this time i misplaced is and forgot to bring it. Good thing that our hotel is near a pharmacy took my meds and slept to recover.
Woke up early and instead of having breakfast at the hotel, we skipped it and went to Sankaku and looked for Ajidokoro Takeda. It is the most famous restaurant in the area. They serve the freshest seafood and they didn’t fail us.
After a very satisfying brunch, we head to the famous Otaru landmark, the Otaru Canal. It is used to be the busiest port in the early part of the 20th century and became obsolete when modern dock facilities opened. In the present time, this is a must-visit place of both locals and tourists who wants to have a leisure walk along the canal. The warehouses were transformed into restaurants and shops. Along the canal are artists who offer their artworks for sale. It is also beautiful at night with lights that makes it a romantic place to spend time with family and loved ones. It serves as the main site for the Snow Light Festival which is held during winter (February) which runs the same time with Sapporo Snow Festival. So if you plan travel next year, you may want to take note of this information.
What i love about traveling during this time is that there were few tourists. I hate it when the place is flocked with fellow tourists that you cannot enjoy the place and cannot take a decent photo without being photo-bombed. The latter being the most struggle for me.
From hanging out at Otaru Canal, we explored the city by foot. We searched for the best fishcake in the city. No doubt, Kamaei is the place to go.
There is a space where you can eat what you bought and they have drink station of complimentary unlimited water and tea perfect with the fish cake. There is also a small grocery at left side of the shop where you can buy novelty Hokkaido goodies.Few minutes away from Otaru Canal is the famous Sakaimachi Street. It is a beautifully preserved merchant street located at Central Otaru.
In this area lies the Nipponginkokyuotaru Shiten Kinyu Museum or the Bank of Japan Otaru Museum. This opened last May 2003 as a museum but this has been in operations since 1912. It showcases the Bank’s history, its operations, and the development of Otaru City. Stop by the museum to feel the weight of a package containing 100 million yen in imitation banknotes, see the anti-counterfeiting techniques used for Bank of Japan notes and the evolution of yen through the years.
Next stop was The Uroko.
Here we grabbed healthy snacks (that will make you eat chips because of the price LOL) Japanese Sweet Corn, Hokkaido Honey Dew and Hokkaido Melon.
Kitakaro should not be missed when you are in this area. It is the home of the best tasting cream puff and soft serve! Super yum combo! They also sell many kind of pastries and they even have free taste on all items except for the soft serve and cream puff.
We were already very full but we still have more shops and restaurants to explore. Next stop was Rokatei. Just took few samples and then move on to Letao. Letao is originally from Otaru.
Just across Letao’s flagship store is the Music Box Museum. They also sell all kinds of music boxes. It comes in various sizes, colors and shapes. As you enter the museum you will be taken to a magical place once you step in. It is a wooden structure with a lot of interesting things to see.
Outside the Music Box Museum is another famous landmark, Otaru Steam Clock Tower.
Across the Music Box Museum and Otaru Steam Clock Tower is the Merchen Square wherein Letao’s Clock Tower can be seen.
The cold really bothered us so decided to go to a neighboring town, Yoichi, to visit the Nikka Whiskey Yoichi Distillery. We rode the local train to Yoichi and it took us 23 minutes to arrive at the station. From the train station, it is around 200 meters walk to the entrance of Nikka Whiskey Yoichi Distillery.
They have guided tours in Japanese so we opted to stroll around on our own which is also okay. They distribute maps for easy access around the museum. We roamed around the vast property of NIkka Whisky. Everywhere is picturesque.
Even without the tour guide you can actually access the place with ease and you can also understand everything since they provide videos and pictures.
They provide free tasting of whisky too! You can taste three brands of their products.Tasting is limited to one glass per each brand. The law prohibits driving under the influence of alcohol. Visitors arriving by car or bicycle, minors, and pregnant or nursing mothers are asked to refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages. Soft drinks will be available.
From Yoichi, we head back to Otaru to collect our things from our hotel and head to our next adventure.
Can you guess our next stop?♥