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October 24, 2017 - Otaru - Land of History and Economic Power Part One
In the latest installment of my Hokkaido side trip, I visited Sapporo for two days and a side trip to Otaru for a day.I had heard a lot of things about Otaru and even though I did not go during the winter when it is most beautiful, the city still had a lot of charm. This is the first of a short series on Otaru and its incredible charm. Sit back and enjoy the sights now!
After having breakfast at the Central Wholesale Market in Sapporo, I walked to Soen Station, one of the larger stations on the line to Otaru. From there I took a 40 minute train ride to the city. As shown in the photo below, the ride to Otaru was spectacular. The suburban tracts of Sapporo is rapidly replaced with the amazing view of the Sea of Japan. If you catch it at the right time, you can see Otaru in the distance.
I know most people recommend getting off at Otaru Station and walk to the Canal. My suggestion is to get off at Minami-Otaru Station. From here you can walk directly to the Otaru Sakaimachi shopping street, which is famous for its sweets, museums, hand blown glass, and music boxes.
The Music Box Museum is very unique as it is a shop and museum all in one. The large steam powered grandfather clock in the front was a gift from Vancouver, Canada, and is a prominent feature. Even if you don't have an interest in music boxes personally, this is a great place to buy a special someone a music box. I bought one for my mom and loved it!
After the Music Box, head over to Marchen Square across the street where you will find a tall five-storey tower. This is the flagship store for LeTao, one of Otaru's greatest exports. LeTao produces sweet breads, desserts, cookies, and cakes, and is famous in Japan. The store is on the ground floor, with a cafe on the second floor. On the top floor of the tower is an observation deck where you can see Otaru.
Beyond this intersection, Otaru Sakaimachi shopping street contains a lot of shops and restaurants, and you can easily spend a few hours just strolling the many unique shops. And no its not just the usual tacky souvenir shops. Some of them sell unique items to Otaru such as the Venetian glassware.
Part Two of the Otaru series will showcase the main tourist draw for the city. Stay tuned to the next entry.