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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Top 5 Attractions & Things to Do in Otaru, Hokkaido – Enjoy a Peaceful Getaway
Joanna James Joanna James
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Top 5 Attractions & Things to Do in Otaru, Hokkaido – Enjoy a Peaceful Getaway

Otaru is a scenic, coastal town in Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido. It boasts snowy mountains and natural hot springs. Read on to find out about the best places to see and things to try here.


Get Buzzed on Sake

If you want to reach that happy high while you're in Hokkaido, why not try something new? Set aside your go-to alcoholic beverage and drop by Otaru's Tanaka Shuzo Brewery instead. This long-standing brewery is located in Kikkogura and has been refining the fine art of making sake, or Japanese rice wine, since the late 19th century. The clean spring waters found in Otaru lend a unique and refreshing flavour to Tanaka Shuzo's special brew.


Meet the Penguins

You know you can't resist the adorable creatures. A trip to Otaru Aquarium is an activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family. It's special because it features arctic marine species such as penguins and porpoises, the latter of which you won't be able to observe elsewhere in Japan. The aquarium is situated around a 20-minute drive away from Otaru accommodation options such as Grand Park Otaru. Over 350,000 people are estimated to visit each year to see the residents of the aquarium. The species housed here range from penguins, pelicans and seals to sea lions and dolphins.


Relax in the Onsen

Hokkaido is known for its abundance of natural hot springs, or onsen, as the Japanese call them, and they are a great way to de-stress. Soaking in an onsen is similar to soaking in a warm bath, except better. The bathing pools are usually located out in the open air and are very relaxing. Their pleasantly steaming waters provide a dramatic contrast to the snowy surroundings. Natural hot springs are formed as by-products of volcanic activity deep under the ground and the Japanese believe that they have powerful healing qualities. This is true, to an extent, depending on the mixture of minerals found in the waters, which differ from spring to spring. Hot springs are also a great way to beat the cold. So the next time you're feeling chilly, head to an onsen in Otaru or one of its neighbouring towns such as Sapporo. If you do, though, make sure you're alright with taking off all your clothes as bathing suits are usually strictly prohibited.


Take to the Slopes

Head to Mt. Tengu for some slippery fun on the slopes and you won't find yourself alone. Winter skiing is a popular pastime in Otaru. Another bonus of journeying to the mountain is the incredible and unobstructed view of the city that you can observe from its peak. Even if you're not visiting Otaru during ski season, it's still worth visiting Mt. Tengu just for that view.


Walk Along the Channel

Take a romantic stroll along the promenade by the Otaru Channel. The gas lamps that light the walkway cast an almost magical glow in the evenings. Once a busy port of call for commercial ships, a portion of the channel is now being maintained as a peaceful and picturesque hallmark of the city; the perfect venue for leisurely walks with your significant other.

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    A travel writer who has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world.

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