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October 24, 2017 - Otaru - Land of History and Economic Power Part Two
In the first part of the series, I took you on a journey to Otaru Sakaimachi shopping street where you can find lots of chocolates and cheesecake, and unique souvenirs like music boxes and glassware. This last part of a two-part series looks at the main reason for visiting Otaru. The Canal System.
It may not look like it today, but Otaru was in fact an economically important city in Hokkaido. Elements of this is everywhere, from the imposing former bank buildings made of granite (the city had a lot of banks and was known as the "Wall Street of the North") to the numerous factory buildings and port lands along the coast, to the canal system that was built but partially filled in. Otaru was truly a place to make money, until Sapporo eclipsed this city in the 20th century and beyond.
There are numerous lookout points, but the most famous one is the one in front of the Information Center and across the street from the Otaru Denuki-Koji building (see the photo above).
One of the biggest draws of the city is the canal system, which formed an important freight transportation route for the many industrial uses in the area. Lining the canal are these old historic warehouses where they are very photogenic especially in the fall when the vines give off a brilliant red colour, or in winter with the snow on the roof and surrounding lands.
One great way to see the Canal is to hop aboard the Canal cruises, small boats that can seat several dozen people. It allows you to see the Canal from the water. The captain steers the boat and provides information in Japanese. Foreign tourists are given a headphone to be used for interpretive information.
If boating isn't your thing, then the boardwalk along the south side of the Canal offers amazing views of the warehouse buildings. The views are even better in winter with the gas lamps provide a soft glow to the powdery snow.
That concludes the two-part series in Otaru. A highly recommended place to visit not only for the views but also the seafood, as there is a seafood immediately west of Otaru Station.