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Nikka Whisky, one of Japan's top whisky makers, has its main distillery in Yoichi (]s, Yoichi Jōryūsho), the neighboring town of Otaru. The company was founded by Taketsuru Masataka, known as the father of Japanese whisky, who studied whisky making techniques for several years in Scotland before bringing the trade to Japan. He was instrumental in establishing the country's first whisky distillery, the Yamazaki Distillery near Kyoto, before he set out on his own to start Nikka Whisky here in Hokkaido.

The Yoichi Distillery was built in 1934, on a site chosen for its clear water, brisk air and rich peat. Taketsuru believed that the conditions in Yoichi best resembled those found in Scotland and would be perfect for recreating Scotch whisky. The traditional distillation process that he brought over is largely unchanged today. Nikka whiskies have been recognized to rank among the world's best single malt whiskies and have won numerous awards.

The Yoichi Distillery maintains many of its original stone buildings which visitors are welcome to view. A self-guided walking tour of the grounds takes about an hour and follows the whisky making process from start to finish. Visitors can learn about the different steps taken to produce whisky from English information displays and audio guides. Some of the equipment along the tour, such as the large copper distillation tanks, is still used today. Guided tours are also available but are only provided in Japanese.

Toward the end of the tour is a museum which focuses on the history of the company and the life of its founder. Several interesting displays include photographs and household items of Taketsuru and his Scottish wife, whom he met in Scotland and who moved to Hokkaido with him to help found his business. The tour ends at a tasting room where visitors can sample various Nikka whiskies. There is also a restaurant and a gift shop.

Getting there and around

The Nikka Whisky Distillery is located just a few steps west of Yoichi Station on the JR Hakodate Line. Yoichi Station can be reached in about 25 minutes by local trains from Otaru (440 yen, hourly departures) or in about one hour from Sapporo (1290 yen, requires a transfer at Otaru).

How to get to and around Otaru

Hours and Fees

Hours

9:00 to 16:00

Closed

December 25 to January 7

Admission

Free

English

Good

Hotels around Otaru

Top rated in Otaru
Budget:
    • O'popo home
      Budget-friendly
      Situated in Otaru and with Otaru Canal Park reachable within 600 metres, O'popo home features express check-in and check-out, non-smoking rooms, a restaurant, free WiFi and a shared lounge. The property is around 1.5 km from Kitaichi Glass Sangokan, 1.7 km from Otaru Music Box Museum and 2.6 km from Otaru University of Commerce. The guest house has family rooms. At the guest house, rooms are equipped with a patio with a mountain view. Continental and Asian breakfast options are available each morning at O'popo home. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Otaru Museum, Sankaku Fish Market and Otaru City Art Museum. The nearest airport is Okadama Airport, 32 km from O'popo home.
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    • LifeHouse IPPO
      Mid-range
      Set in Otaru, near Otaru Canal Park, Otaru Museum and Sankaku Fish Market, LifeHouse IPPO has a restaurant. Free WiFi is offered and private parking is available on site. All units come with air conditioning, and some have a flat-screen TV, washing machine, a kettle, completed with a kitchen. Popular points of interest near the aparthotel include Otaru City Art Museum, Kitaichi Glass Sangokan and Otaru Music Box Museum. The nearest airport is New Chitose Airport, 72 km from LifeHouse IPPO.
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    • U5R
      Budget-friendly
      Situated in Otaru, 2.5 km from Otaru Canal Park, U5R features views of the city. Featuring free bikes, the 2-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. Private parking can be arranged at an extra charge. At the hotel, the rooms have a desk and a flat-screen TV. All rooms will provide guests with a fridge. Guests at U5R will be able to enjoy activities in and around Otaru, like hiking, cycling and fishing. The accommodation can conveniently provide information at the reception to help guests to get around the area. Popular points of interest near U5R include Otaru City Art Museum, Sankaku Fish Market and Otaru Music Box Museum. The nearest airport is Okadama Airport, 32 km from the hotel.
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    • Otaru Tap Room & Hostel
      Budget-friendly
      Featuring 1-star accommodation, Otaru Tap Room & Hostel is situated in Otaru, 700 metres from Sankaku Fish Market and 1.3 km from Kitaichi Glass Sangokan. With a bar, the 1-star hostel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a shared bathroom. Otaru Music Box Museum is 1.6 km away and Otaru University of Commerce is 2.6 km from the hostel. All rooms in the hostel are fitted with a kettle. The rooms will provide guests with a microwave. Popular points of interest near Otaru Tap Room & Hostel include Otaru Canal Park, Otaru Museum and Otaru City Art Museum. The nearest airport is Okadama Airport, 32 km from the accommodation.
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    • Hotel Torifito Otaru Canal
      Mid-range
      Hotel Torifito Otaru Canal is situated in Otaru, 800 metres from Sankaku Fish Market and 1.1 km from Kitaichi Glass Sangokan. Among the facilities of this property are a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk and luggage storage space, along with free WiFi. Private parking can be arranged at an extra charge. Popular points of interest near the hotel include Otaru Canal Park, Otaru Museum and Otaru City Art Museum. The nearest airport is Okadama Airport, 32 km from Hotel Torifito Otaru Canal.
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    • Little Barrel
      Budget-friendly
      Set in Otaru, 3 km from Otaru Canal Park, Little Barrel offers accommodation with a bar, private parking, a shared lounge and a garden. Among the facilities at this property are a shared kitchen and luggage storage space, along with free WiFi throughout the property. The hostel has family rooms. At the hostel the rooms are equipped with a shared bathroom with a hairdryer. Popular points of interest near Little Barrel include Otaru Music Box Museum, Kitaichi Glass Sangokan and Otaru City Art Museum. The nearest airport is Okadama Airport, 32 km from the accommodation.
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    • UNWIND HOTEL & BAR OTARU
      Mid-range
      Situated in Otaru, 1.1 km from Otaru Canal Park, UNWIND HOTEL & BAR OTARU features accommodation with a restaurant, private parking, a bar and a terrace. The property is set less than 1 km from Sankaku Fish Market, a 15-minute walk from Otaru Music Box Museum and 2.2 km from Otaru University of Commerce. The accommodation offers luggage storage space and free WiFi throughout the property. Guests at the hotel can enjoy a continental breakfast. Popular points of interest near UNWIND HOTEL & BAR OTARU include Otaru Museum, Otaru City Art Museum and Kitaichi Glass Sangokan. The nearest airport is Okadama Airport, 32 km from the accommodation.
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    • Authent Hotel Otaru
      Mid-range
      A 5-minute walk from JR Otaru Train Station, Authent Hotel Otaru offers simple accommodations with free Wi-Fi. Guests can refresh in the sauna or request relaxing massages for an extra cost. A spacious public bath is available as well. Rooms here will provide you with a flat-screen TV, and air conditioning. Each features carpeted floors, a fridge and an electric kettle with green tea bags. Featuring a shower, private bathrooms also come with a bath and a hairdryer. At Otaru Authent Hotel you will find a 24-hour front desk and a bar. Other facilities offered include luggage storage, dry cleaning and drink vending machines. Local souvenirs can be purchased at the gift shop. Casablanca serves Western dishes while Japanese meals are available at Irifune restaurant. Grilled Teppanyaki dishes are offered at Kaio restaurant. The hotel is a 5-minute walk from the Otaru Canal and a 15-minute walk from Otaru Orgel Museum Main Building. Shin Nihonkai Ferry Terminal is a 10-minute drive away.
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    • Dormy Inn Premium Otaru
      Mid-range
      Just a minute away from Otaru station on the JR Hakodate Line, Dormy Inn Premium offers air-conditioned rooms with free internet access, a flat-screen TV and refrigerator. Facilities at Dormy Inn Premium Otaru include natural hot spring baths and a sauna. Coin-operated washing machine, public computer with free internet access in the lobby and a 24-hour front desk are available. Guests can enjoy a buffet breakfast of Japanese and western dishes daily.
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    • Hotel Nord Otaru
      Luxury
      Located at the picturesque boulevard of the Otaru Canal, Hotel Nord offers comfortable accommodation and panoramic mountain views. The hotel features a restaurant and free WiFi throughout the property. Rooms at Otaru Nord Hotel are air-conditioned and equipped with satellite TV and a safety deposit box. A refrigerator and an electric kettle are provided. The front desk of Nord Otaru Hotel is staffed 24 hours, and offers luggage storage service. The facilities include vending machines with drinks. A buffet breakfast featuring seasonal local ingredients is available at the property. BAR Duomo Rosso on the top floor offers panoramic views of the ocean and mountains. Hotel Nord Otaru is a 7-minute walk from Otaru Station. The Otaru Music Box Museum is a 6-minute drive away.
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