10 Best Things to do in Otaru | Japan

10 Best Things to do in Otaru

There are many famous spots in Hokkaido that one can miss out on Otaru. It is a very small town compared to Sapporo. Otaru is situated on the harbor so, visitors can enjoy a mesmerizing view.

Here is a list of 10 best things to do in Otaru.

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10 Best Things to do in Otaru | Japan

1. Stroll alongside Otaru Canal

Stroll alongside Otaru Canal | 10 Best Things to do in Otaru
Source: en.japantravel.com

Otaru is mainly famous for this Otaru canal that had been constructed in 1923. There is a walkway that acts as the border for the canal. It allows visitors to walk along the embankment. The evenings are the best time to visit this canal.

They illuminate the boulevard by filling up and using oil lamps. So, when you stroll along the embankment, you will feel as if you have gone back in time. There are boats you can take on the canal to tour the entire city.

2. Observing the Glassware

Observing the Glassware | 10 Best Things to do in Otaru
Source: kosublog.com

The city of Otaru is a major manufacturer of glass. There was a time when oil lamps and glass balls had been utilized as a part of the fishing territory. Nowadays, glass factories have become producers of embellishing items with a wide variety of these products. You can spot glass workshops in different parts of the town.

It is easy to buy souvenirs with so many glass workshops around. The workshops also allow visitors to attend classes where they teach about blowing the glass pieces. Kitachi Glass is the best glass workshop in town to visit. Handmade crystals are found here to buy as souvenirs.

3. Exploring Otaru Museum

Exploring Otaru Museum | 10 Best Things to do in Otaru
Source: commons.wikimedia.org

The Otaru Museum contains many important sections. However, the most important section is the Ungakan. You can find a few exciting dioramas that have a link with Otaru’s past.

There is an ancient warehouse that originated in 1893 that houses the museum. It is located near the Otaru Canal. The museum describes the inception of the city. Otaru bloomed as a town thanks to a productive herring trade during the twentieth century.

This museum is the best place to visit for people who are curious about the origins of the town.

4. Strolling past Nichigin-dori

Strolling past Nichigin-dori | 10 Best Things to do in Otaru
Source: commons.wikimedia.org

Nichigin-dori was the central area of finance for Otaru back in the day. There are many structures here that have a lively appearance till now. It is a fine place to visit during the afternoon for a peaceful walk.

5. Tasting the Ice Creams

Tasting the Ice Creams
Source: shareably.net

Ice creams in Otaru are some of the finest in the region. The best place to visit in Otaru to try some ice cream is the Kita-no Aisukurimu-ya-san. You need to head to a warehouse that was constructed around 1892 to get inside Kita-no Aisukurimu-ya-san. It is an ice cream parlor known for serving special flavors.

Some of these ice creams are only found in these regions. Those exceptional flavors consist of the ika-sumi ice cream. It is made of squid ink and is black colored. Many visitors get startled when they first lay eyes upon this unique ice cream.

There are other unique flavors as well such as the sea urchin flavor. It does not mean that the ice cream parlor does not serve the conventional ones. So, if you are looking for the conventional ones, they are more than willing to serve you the sweet melon flavor.

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6. Take a trip to the Herring Mansion

Take a trip to the Herring Mansion
Source: map.uu-hokkaido.jp

The city remains a very important part of the fishing sector of Japan. The fishing port here has historical significance. According to the name of the mansion, the prime item that they fish here is the herring. These herrings are what made the city prominent back in the day.

You will be able to see a lot of luxurious mansions around the town. The mansions had been built on the back of the fishing industry’s success with fishing herring. There is an embellished structure among them that is commonly referred to as the “Herring Mansion”. The mansion has been around since its construction over two centuries ago.

You can find a few galleries inside the mansion that contain fishing items. Moreover, the Herring Mansion is the one place where you can visit to properly learn about Hokkaido’s herring industry.

7. Going on Cruises

Going on Cruises
Source: cruisemapper.com

Situated nearby a habour, it is easy to understand that a major part of your activities will be water-based. For instance, you can go on a voyage besides the Otaru Canal. You can also take the cruise around the Otaru Harbour in case you prefer the open waters.

Quite a few cruise companies take visitors out on their boat and provide narration using the English language. The commentary is sufficient to let foreigners know many interesting facts. Some of the cruise ships have a stopping point close to where countless water birds reside. You will have a chance to feed them yourself.

8. Shopping for Antiques

Shopping for Antiques
Source: treksplorer.com

You cannot end your journey without buying souvenirs from a town as beautiful as Otaru. Many antique shops are spread evenly throughout the town and quite a few have been set up just inside Otaru and its center. Some items that you can buy as souvenirs are kimonos from the past, ornamental pieces, other antiquities, etc.

The best antique shop in town is Shichifuku. It is quite famous for selling century-old sake cups. You can always collect mementos.

9. Observing the Steam Clock

Observing the Steam Clock
Source: thecrazytourist.com

The Steam Clock is a star attraction of Otaru that visitors do not skip out on. As the name suggests, it is powered by steam till this very day. The origin of the clock, however, is not Otaru but Vancouver. This clock had been offered to Otaru in the form of a gift.

10. Taste the Sushi

Taste the Sushi
Source: japanhoppers.com

While you can find sushi anywhere in Hokkaido, the other regions cannot compete with Otaru’s ones. So, if you are eager to have a bite of some delicious sushi, you can head down to Otaru Sushi-ko. The sushi contains seafood toppings as well.


To conclude, Otaru is the best place to visit if you like the open waters. So, if you want to make unforgettable memories of your trip to Japan, then Otaru is the place to be.

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