Sakaimachi Street (境町通り, Sakaimachi Dōri) is an attractive, preserved merchant street in central Otaru, a short walk from the city's canal area. During the development of Hokkaido in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Otaru thrived as a port city, and many trading and shipping companies constructed impressive Western style buildings in the city center to house their offices and shops.

Many of the buildings along Sakaimachi Street have since been converted into restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, boutiques and museums. There are also a few glass workshops for tourists to enjoy a hands-on experience in creating the local Otaru Glass.

Music Box Museum

Hours: 9:00 to 18:00 (until 19:00 on Fridays and Saturdays in summer)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: Free
The Music Box Museum consists of multiple buildings scattered around the southern end of Sakaimachi Street, one of which houses a small museum about music boxes. The most prominent building, however, is a large shop with a wide variety of music boxes on sale. In front of the building stands a steam clock, a present by the city of Vancouver.

Glass Workshops

When the herring fishing industry declined in the 1950s, the makers of glass buoys shifted to the production of refined glassware instead. Nowadays, Otaru benefits greatly from the reputation of its glassware, attracting many tourists to its glass shops. In addition to selling Otaru glassware, many shops allow customers to make their own cups, bowls or vases for typically 2000 to 3000 yen.

Museum of Venetian Art

Hours: 8:45 to 18:00 (entry until 17:30)
Closed: No closing days
Admission: 700 yen
The local glass producer Kitaichi opened this five story museum dedicated to the arts of Venice. Inside visitors will find displays of Venetian glassware, clothing and furniture, as well as a full sized gondola.

Bank of Japan Museum

Hours: 9:30 to 17:00 (from 10:00 in December through March)
Admission ends 30 minutes before closing
Closed: Wednesdays (open if Wed is a national holiday), Dec 29 to Jan 5
Admission: Free
The Otaru branch of the Bank of Japan dates back to 1912. It was converted into a museum in 2003 and features a number of creative displays about Japanese money and the branch's local history, including an old vault where visitors can feel the weight of a hundred million yen.

Getting there and around

Sakaimachi Street is a ten minute walk from Otaru Station or a five minute walk from Minami-Otaru Station. Alternatively, two of the four Otaru Stroller's tourist bus lines pass along the street, providing frequent connections with Otaru Station.

How to get to and around Otaru

Hotels around Otaru