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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Best Things to do in Otaru – Experience Stunning Hokkaido
Joanna James Joanna James
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Best Things to do in Otaru – Experience Stunning Hokkaido

Framed by ocean and mountains, Otaru, Hokkaido is a precinct to be savoured and enjoyed by all lovers of nature. The area is also a lauded destination for dining, offering the freshest seafood.


Visit the Otaru Canal

The Otaru Canal precinct dates back to the 19th century, framed by warehouses from the 19th and 20th centuries. Exploring the area you can discover the iconic amalgamation of traditional Japanese architectural styles with western building methods; which was all the rage at the time. Many of these restored warehouses are now sunny cafes and museums. Guests at Grand Park Otaru will find this iconic attraction just 8 minutes away by car.


Kita-no Aisukurimu-ya-san

Even if you cannot pronounce the name, do pay this fabulous ice cream parlour a visit. Located close to your Otaru accommodation this ice-cream shop is situated at the back of the Otaru Canal within a restored 1892 warehouse. The place is not to be taken lightly as it offers a pretty impressive range of ice cream. The names alone are quite impressive and rather strange; there is squid ink ika sumi, a mildly sweet ice-cream, sea urchin uni and melon for those of you who prefer to be non-adventurous and stick to more conventional sweet ice-cream treats.


The Otaru Museum

This attraction too is housed within a 19th century warehouse in the canal district. The Otaru Museum, locally known as ungaka, offers a very comprehensive insight into the rise of Otaru's economy via the herring industry. The city's peak, around the 20th century, as well as, its decline in later years is displayed in detail. English supplements and illustrations make it clear and easy to understand.


Former Nihon Yusen Building

This is a building much in use during the golden years of Otaru, as trade orders were processed within this stone building. Completed in 1906, it was a fine example of the era's latest technology and was a very popular icon. When touring the complex make sure to check out the beautiful gilded and embossed wallpaper, made from rice paper. The building is located at the northern end of the canal.



A marvellous little shop to explore, Shichifuku is an antique shop selling all manner of little vintage treasures. On display are 100 year old sake cups, very expensive and beautiful antique hairpins, kitschy lamps and many more fascinating vintage items, you will love browsing through. The shop is open from 10 am to 6 pm, Wednesday to Monday.


Bank of Japan Otaru Museum

Designed by the same architect who was responsible for the Tokyo Station, the Otaru branch of the prestigious Bank of Japan was constructed in 1912. The building, however, has been well restored, and looks more a modern complex than the vintage marvel it is. Be observant and you will notice a lot of antique features amongst all the modern façade such as the owl keystones, laid as an homage to Ainu the guardian deity.

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