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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 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) with a transfer at Otaru.

How to get to and around Otaru

Hours and Fees

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Hotels around Otaru

Top rated in Otaru
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    • The Otaornai Backpacker's Hostel Morinoki
      Budget-friendly
      Otaornai Backpacker's Hostel Morinoki is for free and independent travelers in Hokkaido Otaru. No good for small group or family. It is just 1.4 km away from Otaru Station and a 3-minute walk to Suitengu Temple. Otaru Canal is a 10-minute walk away. This hostel are only shared dormitory rooms. No private room. It has a free-use kitchen, a terrace and free Wi-Fi. All rooms are non-smoking. 30 steps to reach entrance. No elevator. Simple heated rooms with shared bathrooms and toilets are provided at this hostel. Slippers are included, and a fan is used for cooling in warm weather. But There is no air conditioning (cooler) facility. The entire hostel is non-smoking. Guests can enjoy the garden, read books and comics at the lounge or enjoy sightseeing in Otaru. The hostel has a cat and a dog. No Meals, No Cafe, No Bar, No Restaurant, No Hot Springs, No Vending Machines, No Air Conditioning, No TV, No pick-up service.
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    • Home Yasuda
      Budget-friendly
      Home Yasuda is situated in Otaru, 4.1 km from Otaru Station, 18 km from Otarushi Zenibako City Center, as well as 36 km from Sapporo Station. Each accommodation at the 1-star homestay has quiet street views, and guests can enjoy access to a hot tub. Free WiFi is available and private parking can be arranged at an extra charge. The homestay offers a flat-screen TV and a shared bathroom with slippers, free toiletries and shower. A microwave and fridge are also available, as well as a kettle. At the homestay, each unit has bed linen and towels. The homestay offers an American or Asian breakfast. Shin-Sapporo Station is 48 km from Home Yasuda, while Otaru Canal Park is 5.5 km from the property. The nearest airport is Okadama Airport, 38 km from the accommodation.
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    • Opopo home {X
      Budget-friendly
      Offering city views, Opopo home {X is an accommodation situated in Otaru, less than 1 km from Otaru Station and 18 km from Otarushi Zenibako City Center. With free WiFi, this 1-star guest house offers luggage storage space and a shared lounge. The guest house has family rooms. A terrace with mountain view, a cable flat-screen TV and air conditioning are available in some units. Sapporo Station is 36 km from the guest house, while Shin-Sapporo Station is 48 km from the property. The nearest airport is Okadama Airport, 38 km from Opopo home {X.
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    • Ryo An
      Luxury
      Ryo An is located in Otaru, within 17 km of Otarushi Zenibako City Center and 35 km of Sapporo Station. This 4-star hotel offers free WiFi. The property is non-smoking and is set 400 metres from Otaru Station. All guest rooms come with air conditioning, a fridge, a microwave, a kettle, a bidet, free toiletries and a desk. The private bathroom is fitted with a shower, a hairdryer and slippers. At the hotel the rooms come with bed linen and towels. Shin-Sapporo Station is 48 km from Ryo An, while Otaru Canal Park is 1.7 km from the property. The nearest airport is Okadama Airport, 38 km from the accommodation.
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    • Garden House Umenoya Otaru
      Budget-friendly
      Close to both Otaru Station and Otaru Canal Park, Garden House Umenoya Otaru is situated in Otaru and has a hot tub and garden. This 2-star homestay offers luggage storage space and bicycle parking. There is a sun terrace and guests can make use of free WiFi and free private parking. Some units have a balcony and/or a patio with garden views and an outdoor dining area. At the homestay, some units are allergy-free and soundproof. Guests can also relax in the shared lounge area. Otarushi Zenibako City Center is 17 km from the homestay, while Sapporo Station is 35 km from the property. The nearest airport is Okadama Airport, 38 km from Garden House Umenoya Otaru.
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    • UNWIND HOTEL & BAR OTARU
      Mid-range
      Situated in Otaru, 800 metres from Otaru Station, UNWIND HOTEL & BAR OTARU features accommodation with a terrace, private parking, a restaurant and a bar. The 3-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with a private bathroom and free WiFi. The property is non-smoking and is set 17 km from Otarushi Zenibako City Center. The rooms at the hotel are fitted with a flat-screen TV and a safety deposit box. At UNWIND HOTEL & BAR OTARU rooms come with bed linen and towels. Guests at the accommodation can enjoy an American breakfast. Sapporo Station is 35 km from UNWIND HOTEL & BAR OTARU, while Shin-Sapporo Station is 48 km from the property. The nearest airport is Okadama Airport, 37 km from the hotel.
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    • Little Barrel
      Budget-friendly
      Set in Otaru, 1.5 km from Otaru Station, Little Barrel offers accommodation with a garden and private parking. This 1-star hostel offers a shared kitchen, a shared lounge and free WiFi. The property is non-smoking and is located 17 km from Otarushi Zenibako City Center. The rooms are equipped with a shared bathroom with a hairdryer, while some boast sea views. Sapporo Station is 35 km from the hostel, while Shin-Sapporo Station is 47 km from the property. The nearest airport is Okadama Airport, 37 km from Little Barrel.
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    • Otaru Tap Room & Hostel
      Budget-friendly
      Otaru Tap Room & Hostel is located in Otaru, within 17 km of Otarushi Zenibako City Center and 35 km of Sapporo Station. Featuring a bar, the 1-star hostel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a shared bathroom. The property is non-smoking and is situated 800 metres from Otaru Station. All rooms in the hostel are fitted with a kettle. The rooms have bed linen. Shin-Sapporo Station is 48 km from Otaru Tap Room & Hostel, while Otaru Canal Park is 800 metres from the property. The nearest airport is Okadama Airport, 38 km from the accommodation.
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    • Winkel Village
      Budget-friendly
      Within a 10-minute walk from Asari Ski Resort, Winkel Village features cosy apartments and cottages, all with a terrace and mountain views. It features a ski school and a shop. Apartments and freestanding wooden cottages feature heating, a fully equipped kitchen and a bathroom with a bathtub. All are equipped with a TV, while apartments boast a private open-air hot spring bath, however not for cottages. Guests sleep on Japanese futon bedding on the bedroom floor. There are 2 types of rooms.Village Winkel offers rentals of sporting goods, board games and barbecue equipment that can be used on the guests' private terrace. Guests can go hiking or fishing in the area, and there is a tennis court on a 5-minute drive. Hotel Winkel Village is a 15-minute drive from Otaru Ferry Terminal and Otaru Unga Canal, and a 40-minute drive from Kiroro Snow World.
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    • GRIDS PREMIUM HOTEL OTARU
      Luxury
      Located within 17 km of Otarushi Zenibako City Center and 35 km of Sapporo Station, GRIDS PREMIUM HOTEL OTARU provides rooms in Otaru. With a restaurant, the 4-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. Private parking can be arranged at an extra charge. The units in the hotel are fitted with a kettle. Each room comes with a safety deposit box and certain rooms include city views. Guest rooms in GRIDS PREMIUM HOTEL OTARU are equipped with a flat-screen TV and free toiletries. Guests at the accommodation can enjoy a buffet breakfast. GRIDS PREMIUM HOTEL OTARU also features a wellness area, where guests can make the most of facilities like a sauna. With staff speaking English and Japanese, guidance is available at the reception. Popular points of interest near the hotel include Otaru Station, Otaru Canal Park and Otaru Museum. The nearest airport is Okadama Airport, 38 km from GRIDS PREMIUM HOTEL OTARU.
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