Otaru – Everything You Need to Know

Otaru is one of Hokkaido's great port cities with much to offer intrepid travellers. The freshest seafood, beautiful glassware, picturesque scenery and so much more. Discover Otaru with us.

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Otaru is a small port city slightly north of Hokkaido’s capital, Sapporo. Formerly one of Japan’s major trading ports, the city possesses a grandeur and cosmopolitanism that is rare in a city of this size. Accordingly, Otaru boasts a pleasantly unique feel, a factor in the city’s transformation into one of Hokkaido’s leading tourist hotspots. But the appeals of this small city don’t end there. 

Today, the city is most famous for three things: music boxes, glass and seafood. Intrigued? Keep reading and we’ll give you the full lowdown on Otaru, including everything you need to see, what to eat, where to stay and much, much more.

Otaru Canal

Otaru Music Box Museum

Otaru Glass

Things to Do in Otaru

Otaru Food & Restaurants

Otaru Hotels

How to get to Otaru

Otaru Weather

Summer. Photo Credit: Hideto KOBAYASHI via Flickr cc

Summer. Photo Credit: Hideto KOBAYASHI via Flickr cc

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Winter. Photo Credit: MiNe via Flickr cc

When to visit Otaru

Otaru is beautiful throughout the year, however, given its northerly location, some times of the year are more forgiving than others. Regardless, Otaru plays host to numerous events throughout the year, all of which are well worth checking out. Take a look below for a season by season rundown. 

 

Otaru Spring (March, April and May)

As the ferocious winter fades, the snow begins to melt and Otaru comes to life once again. Although temperatures remain fairly low, in mid-April and May especially, you’ll no longer require quite so much insulation. Indeed, although March’s average low is -1°C, the average high in May is roughly 17°C. Be warned, however, Otaru’s spring is notoriously mercurial, meaning it’s best to be prepared for everything. 

Like everywhere else in Japan, spring is also the season of sakura, or cherry blossoms. Typically, Otaru’s cherry blossoms begin to bloom in mid to late April. 

 

Otaru Summer (June, July and August)

Relative to other areas of Japan, Otaru enjoys wonderfully temperate summers characterised by warm (but not too warm) temperatures, clear skies and minimum rainfall. Average highs in August – typically the warmest month of the year – are around 25°C. Thankfully, Otaru, unlike more southern Japanese cities, does not suffer from intense humidity in the summer months. June, July and August are thus ideal times to visit the city. 

One of the city’s best summer events is the Otaru Tide Festival in July, a festival which sees the whole city come out to give thanks to the sea and prey for Otaru’s continued prosperity. 

 

Otaru Autumn (September, October and November)

Autumn is also a great season to visit Otaru, a time in which the colours of the leaves begin to change and the snow starts to return. Temperatures, especially at the beginning of the season, remain fairly pleasant, although visitors are still advised to prepare for cold snaps. Protection against rain is also strongly advised, with autumn seeing the largest amount of average rainfall of any season. 

 

Otaru Winter (December, January and February)

Although Otaru is bitterly cold during the winter months (January lows of -7°C) and covered in a blanket of snow, it is arguably one of the best times of year to witness the city. Otaru, well used to these conditions, is adept at keeping the city running despite the snow, meaning transport and other amenities are rarely disturbed. Thick, thermal clothing, hats, scarfs and gloves are must-have clothing items. 

In February, tourists flock to the Snow Light Path Festival in which the whole city is illuminated with light and adorned with snow sculptures.  

Check out Otaru City’s Official Event page for more year-round happenings in the city.

Otaru Canal (Otaru Unga)

Photo Credit: Mith Huang via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Mith Huang via Flickr cc

Photo credit: ncburton via Flickr cc

Photo credit: ncburton via Flickr cc

Originally used to transport goods from the port to the city’s many warehouses, Otaru Canal is an artery cutting through the heart of the city. Although its original purpose is now obsolete, Otaru Canal remains the focal point of the city and one of its main tourist destinations. The canal area has been thoroughly redeveloped, with the warehouses that line its banks now some of the city’s best restaurants, bars, art galleries and shops. Strolling along the canal is a treat at any time of the year and a great way to acquaint oneself with the city.

Another great way to experience the canal is on a boat cruise. Costing 1,500 yen during the day or 1,800 yen at night, cruises are incredibly reasonably priced and the perfect opportunity to get a new angle on the city. Check out Otaru Canal Cruise for more information. 

The Otaru Snow Light Path Festival, the city’s annual snow festival, only serves to enhance the beauty of the canal. Check it out if you can. 

Tip: Visit the canal 30 minutes to an hour before the sun sets so that you can see the canal in daylight, during sunset and also with the lights at night.

Otaru Music Box Museum (Otaru Orgel Emporium)

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Otaru has a reputation as one of the best places in Japan to see and buy music boxes. Why? The history is fuzzy but the city’s busy port certainly has something to do with it. The best place to explore this heritage is at the Otaru Music Box Museum. Here, hundreds of music boxes are displayed, from old antiques worth more than most people’s houses to the modern and kitschy. There’s hours worth of fun to be had here and even the opportunity to pick up a music box souvenir from the large museum shop. For the very eager, there’s also the chance to make your own music box, which can only be done by making a reservation in advance. 

Opening Hours: Sun-Sat 09:00 - 18:00
Website: Otaru Orgel
Price: 1,500 - 2,500 yen
Phone: 0134-22-1108
Address: 4-1 Sumiyoshicho, Otaru, Hokkaido

Otaru Glass

Photo Credit: Tom Small via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Tom Small via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Rafiq Mirza via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Rafiq Mirza via Flickr cc

Since the early 20th century, Otaru has excelled in the manufacturing of unique glassware, earning itself the nickname: ‘The City of Glass.’ Studios producing this glassware and stores selling it litter the city, with visitors coming from far and wide to get in on the action. From everyday items like glasses and lamps to decorative ornaments, trinkets and jewellery, it’s all available in Otaru. 

Most of Otaru’s glassware stores specialise in a particular item, glass type or technique, a fact that makes browsing the stores continually interesting. Some of the most famous include Kitaichi Glass, the oldest store in the city with its own dedicated museum; Otaru Taisho Glass Palace, one of the most high-end stores; and Kitaichi Venetian Art museum, a store and museum dedicated to Italian-inspired glassware. Find more info on the best spots, below. 

For those more intrigued by how the glassware is produced, there is also the opportunity to take part in some hands-on workshops. At the Kitaichi Glass Sakaimachi Studio and Kitaichi Glass Hanazono, participants are given the chance to try their hand at glass blowing, sandblasting and decorating, all for a very reasonable price. 

 

Otaru Taishou Glass Palace

Despite its slightly bombastic name, the Otaru Taishou Glass Palace is one of the best places in Otaru to witness glassware at its finest. Ostensibly a store, it’s just as much a glassware museum, with an impressive array of pieces on display for gawping at. If you are in the market for a glass souvenir, however, there’s a brilliant range of items for all price ranges. 

Website: Taisho Glass
Address: 1-1-8 Ironai, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Kitaichi Glass Hall and Sangokan (北一硝子三号館)

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The Kitaichi Glass Hall is housed inside the grand Sangokan building, a large stone warehouse built in the late 19th century. Kitaichi is home to an excellent collection of glass art, together with 167 antique oil lamps, all of which are available to view free of charge. The cafe is particularly popular, where visitors can sit and enjoy a drink and one of the famous jumbo cream puffs, soundtracked by regular live piano performances. For the very keen, get there at 08:45 for a special tour where visitors are allowed to observe the lighting of all 167 of the oil lamps. 

Website: Kitaichi Glass
Address: 7-26 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Kitaichi Glass Outlet

Kitaichi Glass Hall is for the viewing of glassware, the nearby Kitaichi Glass Outlet is for buying. Admittedly, prices are pretty high, but the quality is undeniable and the artfulness exquisite. Although surrounded by similar shops, Kitaichi Glass Outlet is arguably the best. If you’re picking up a souvenir to take home, the staff will be more than happy to wrap up your glass to keep it safe. 

Address: 7-20 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Kitaichi Glass Hanazono Shop ((株) 北一硝子 花園店)

Another excellent glass store where you’ll find great quality items for everyone from serious collectors to passing tourists. The best thing about Kitaichi Glass Hanazono Shop is the hands-on workshops in which participants are given the opportunity to try their hand at sandblasting, a technique used to decorate glassware. Drop in and reserve a place or give them a call. 

Address: 1-6-10 Hanazono, Otaru, Hokkaido 

 

Kitaichi Venetian Art Museum (北一ヴェネツィア美術館)

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The Kitaichi Venetian Art Museum on Sakaimachi Street is one of Otaru’s top tourist draws. What with Otaru’s prominent canal and its glassware heritage, it wouldn’t be too hyperbolic to claim the city as the Venice of Japan. If, however, you wouldn’t mind seeing some glass from the Venice of Italy, head here, where there is 3,000 items on display, all original and of the finest quality. Of course, there’s also a good range of glassware available for purchase from the attached shop. Once you’ve seen it all, head to the coffee shop on the top floor for a well-earned break (plus a discount if you also visited the museum). 

Website: Kitaichi Venetian Art Museum
Address: 5-27 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido

Things to Do in Otaru

Sakaimachi Dori Street (境町通り)

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Photo Credit: bryansjs via Flickr cc

Walk straight out of Otaru Station, turn right and you’ll find yourself on Sakaimachi Street (Dori), Otaru’s main commercial street and a great place to begin your exploration of the city. Lined with Western-style buildings built at the height of the city’s trading boom, it recalls Europe just as much as it does Japan. Today, instead of shipping company headquarters and banks, the buildings contain restaurants serving up the finest seafood the city has to offer, glittering glassware shops and laid back cafes. Bustling day and night, make Sakaimachi Street your first stop in Otaru. 

Nearest Station: Minami-Otaru Station
Address: 6-11 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Otaru City Museum

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The Otaru City Museum is, in fact, an amalgam of two different museums: the Canal Building and Otaru Railway Museum. The former is located in the city centre and is focused on the history of Otaru, including an enlightening account of the native Ainu people and their struggle for recognition. The latter is located slightly further out, on the site of the city’s former train terminal that connected Otaru with Sapporo. The history of Otaru’s railroad development is thoroughly covered in the various exhibitions, plus there are some decommissioned trains to take a look at outside. 

Admission Fee: 500 yen (both), 300 yen (Canal Building), 400 yen (Otaru Railway Museum)
Hours: 09:30-17:00
Address: 2-1-20 Ironai, Otaru, Hokkaido (Canal Building), 1-3-6 Temiya, Otaru, Hokkaido (Otaru Railway Museum)

 

Bank of Japan Otaru Museum

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Designed to recall the central banks of Europe, the building that houses the former Otaru branch of the Bank of Japan is certainly grand. Today, the structure is a museum dedicated to the bank, where visitors are treated to a very in-depth walkthrough of the development of the country’s currency system. Although this may sound fairly dry, the museum includes interactive displays that really do bring economic history to life. 

Admission: Free
Hours: 09:30 - 17:00 (April-November), 10:00 - 17:00 (December-March)
Address: 1-11-16 Ironai, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Otaru Aquarium

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Located high up on a hill overlooking the city, a visit to the Otaru Aquarium is not only a good opportunity to get out of the city centre but also a great, family-friendly, half-day activity. You’ll be given the opportunity to watch the various outdoor performances, pet sea otters and sea dogs, watch the penguins and a whole lot more besides. To get there, take the Chuo Bus from Otaru Station.  

Admission Fee:  1400 yen (Adult), 530 yen (Children)
Opening Hours: 9:00 - 17:00 (March 21-October 15), 9:00 - 16:00 (October 16- November 29), 10:00 - 16:00 (December 19-February 28)
Address:  3-303 Shukutsu, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Mount Tenguyama

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Standing at a mammoth 2,646 meters, Mount Tenguyama is a monster and located just 15 minutes from Otaru Station. Once there, hike to the summit or take the cable car, either way, you’ll be treated to superb views once you get there. Alternatively, there are a number of hiking trails around the base of the mountain and even a museum dedicated to the history of skiing: the Otaru Ski Archives. To get there from Otaru Station, catch the Chuo Bus No.9 for Tenguyama Ropeway and remain onboard until the last stop.

 

Otaru Miyakodori Shopping District

Just three minutes from Otaru Station, Miyakodori Shopping District is in the heart of the city yet surprisingly free of too many tourists. One reason for this, perhaps, is that the area doesn’t look like too much on the surface, but underneath there’s a lot to be discovered. Miyakodori is a time capsule of Otaru from another age, filled with old school sweet shops, restaurants and coffee houses. 

Address: 2-13-8 Inaho, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Otaru Kihinkan (Old Aoyama Villa)

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The former villa of the Aoyama clan, a family that prospered due to Herring fishing and trading in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth century, Otaru Kihinkan is at once a reminder of Otaru’s former economic strength and one of the finest examples you’ll find of traditional Japanese architecture and interior design. Every room is the epitome of traditional luxury and the gardens are a delight to stroll around, making it an excellent sightseeing spot. Located outside of town, it’s also a good chance to escape the tourist traps and see some of the area’s countryside. 

Website: Otaru Kihinkan
Address: 3-63 Shukutsu, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Nightlife

Otaru’s appeal lies in its sleepy, relaxed vibe. Not a recipe for particularly lively nightlife. However, there are options for a good time once the sun goes down. Two such joints are Bar & Cafe Nikka Bar Rita [Official Website / Google Map Link] and Otaru Soko No.1 Brewery [Official Website / Google Map Link], both of which remain open until fairly late, offer a good range of drinks and snacks, and are always packed with revellers. If you’re after a nightclub or a better range of bars, your best bet is to head to nearby Sapporo. 

 

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

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Held annually in February, the Otaru Snow Light Path Festival turns Otaru into a real life winter wonderland. Throughout the festival the city is lit by countless lights and decorated with hundreds of small snow statues, all set among the heavy winter snow. The two main loci of the festival are the Unga Kaijo area and the Temiyasen Kaijo area, where you’ll find the biggest crowds and the most impressive light and sculptures. The whole city gets involved, however, so you’ll find contributions to the festival outside of homes and businesses across Otaru. Taking place in conjunction with the Sapporo Snow Festival, take in both on the same trip for a big hit of wintery goodness. 

When: February 6th - February 15th*
Main Sites: Otaru Canal and the Old Temiya Line (旧手宮線)
Website: Otaru Yuki Akari No Michi

*Dates subject to change.

Otaru Food & Restaurant Guide

For a full guide to the Otaru culinary landscape, check out Otaru Food – Restaurants, Sushi, Ramen and More, or take a look at the highlights below. 

Sushi

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The waters off the Hokkaido coast teem with life, making seafood a staple of the island’s diet. Otaru, given its coastal location and large port, has become one of the greatest seafood cities and its sushi is the best expression of this. Fresh, varied and available absolutely everywhere, the city is a sushi lovers dream. The most famous sushi restaurants include Masazushi, Kaitensushi Waraku, Izesushi and Uomasa, though wherever you drop into, you’re unlikely to be disappointed. 

 

LeTAO’s Cheesecake

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Founded in 1998, LeTAO is a chocolatier and dessert store with a monopoly over Otaru’s sweet side. Its six stores (some of which also include cafes) are always packed with customers there to pick up famous treats like the Double Fromage Cheesecake, Custard Pudding and ice-creams. Perhaps the ultimate LeTAO treat is the Rue Ironai Fromage cookies, which are not to be missed. 

Locations: LeTAO’s Shop List

 

Kitaichi Glass Hall’s Rainbow Tower Ice Cream

Photo Credit: Party Lin via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Party Lin via Flickr cc

Inside the Sangokan Building, home to the Kitaichi Glass Hall, you’ll also find a cafe with a unique speciality: the Rainbow Tower Ice Cream. Though the ice cream doesn’t quite cover all the colours of the rainbow, it does include an impressive six, layered atop a cone. Not only is it colourful, but incredibly tasty too. 

Hours: 08:45 - 18:00
Location: Kitaichi Glass Hall and Sangokan (北一硝子三号館)

 

Naruto Chicken Otaru

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One of Otaru’s best-loved restaurants, Naruto Chicken has been around as long as anyone can remember. The speciality here, unsurprisingly, is the chicken. Prepared according to a time-honoured recipe, the results are tender, juicy chicken with a crispy, flavorful skin. For an incredibly reasonable price, you’ll be served a half chicken, rice and miso soup, plus there’s even sushi should you want it. 

Price: ~980 yen
Address: 3-16-13 Inaho, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Gin No Kane’s Coffee and Cake

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A sophisticated coffee shop, perfect for a long, relaxed afternoon break. The quality of the coffee and the desserts is fantastic, the atmosphere convivial and the staff friendly. If you’re a Hello Kitty fan or know someone who is, make sure you pick up one of their special Otaru Hello Kitty mugs to take away as a souvenir. 

Price: ~750 yen
Hours: 09:00-17:30
Address: 1-1-2 Irifune, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Grilled Seafood at Minshuku Aotsuka Shokudo (民宿 青塚食堂)

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You’ll have no misgivings about the freshness of the seafood at Minshuku Aotsuka Shokudo, a restaurant located right on the ocean, just 15 minutes by car from central Otaru. The USP of this restaurant is its grilled fish, cooked right in front of the diners. For those wary of raw fish, this may be a welcome relief. The vibe here is casual and friendly, making the slight effort of getting there well worth it. If you haven’t got your own wheels, a taxi ride shouldn’t be too expensive. 

Price: ~1,000 yen
Hours: 10:00 - 20:00
Address: 3-210 Shukutsu, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Yabuhan Soba

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This is the place to go if you want to try local hand-made soba. There are several options to choose from and handily there are English menus with pictures available. Happily, it’s also one of the few Otaru restaurants which is able to accommodate vegetarians.  

Price: ~1,000 yen
Hours: 11:00 - 4:00, 4:30 - 8:30
Address: 2-19-14 Inaho, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Shirokuma Shokudo (シロクマ食堂)

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For a taste of no gimmicks home cooked Japanese food there’s no better place in Otaru than Shirokuma Shokudo. The interior is homely, the staff welcoming and the food perfect for a cold winters day. The two top sellers here are the ramen and the hamburger rice dish, both of which come highly recommended. Well worth the 15-minute trek from the canal. 

Address: 3-6-3 Ironai, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Kitakaro’s Cream Puff

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Japan seems to love cream, pastry, chocolate, anything, essentially, that may seem to anyone else a little too saccharine. Yet, when you visit somewhere like Kitakaro’s, you can begin to understand why. This little pâtisserie, tucked away on an unassuming street, is renowned for its pastry treats. Chief among them, the cream puffs. Take our word for it, they will put every cream puff you’ve ever eaten to shame. A must for the sweet toothed.

Address: 7-22 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido

Otaru Onsen (Hot Spring) & Ryokan

Otaru Asarigawa Onsen Kourakuen

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Asarigawa Onsen Kourakuen is a charming example of an authentic Japanese ryokan (traditional hotel), complete with onsen (hot spring) facilities, fine dining and a relaxed, meditative atmosphere. With just 16 rooms, the ryokan is small, meaning all guests are treated with the utmost attention by the dedicated staff. Of the 16 rooms, half include their own private hot spring, plus there’s a communal onsen should you want to mingle with the other guests. Set amongst acres of private gardens, this is the ideal place to escape the real world for a while. 

Website: Otaru Kourakuen
Address: 5-23-1 Shinko, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Otaru Ryotei Kuramure

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Don’t let first impressions fool you, for what looks from the outside like a large metal shed is, in fact, one of Hokkaido’s very best ryokans. Otaru Ryotei Kuramure blends the best of what makes traditional ryokans and modern luxury hotels so great, creating a concoction so good you won’t want to leave. The interior is simple but elegant, all polished wood, stone and straight lines. The rooms are traditionally styled but feature modern conveniences and private bathrooms. The onsen is gender segregated, with both indoor and outdoor baths, the latter with unbeatable views over the distant hills. The food is expertly prepared using fresh, local ingredients and always delicious. What’s more, with English speaking staff, the whole experience is language barrier free.  

Website: Kuramure
Address: 2-685 Asarigawa Onsen, Otaru, Hokkaido

For more hot springs, check out Otaru City’s List of Hot Springs.

Otaru Hotels

Grand Park Otaru

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Grand Park Otaru (previously Hilton Hotel Otaru) not only boasts large modern rooms but also beautiful views of Otaru’s port area and many restaurants, cafes and shops accessible from the first floor. The staff are also abundantly friendly and attentive. 

Website: Grand Park Otaru
Nearest Station: Otaru Chikko Station
Address: Wing Bay Otaru, 11-3 Chikko, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Dormy Inn Premium Otaru

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Dormy Inn Premium Otaru is conveniently located just one minute from Otaru Station. Take advantage of the free hot spring and sauna facilities as well as the extensive breakfast buffet. 

Website: Dormy Inn Premium Otaru
Nearest Station: Otaru Station
Address: 3-9-1 Inaho, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Authent Hotel Otaru

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Authent Hotel Otaru boasts an excellent location (five minutes from Otaru Station), spacious public baths and friendly, welcoming staff. The rooms are not huge, but they make up for it in comfort and style. 

Website: Authent Hotel
Nearest Station: Otaru Station
Address: 2-15-1 Inaho, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Hotel Nord Otaru

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This British-themed hotel is conveniently close to the famous Otaru Canal and within walking distance of all of Otaru’s major tourist attractions. The staff are friendly and helpful, and the breakfast well-stocked. 

Website: Hotel Nord
Nearest Station: Otaru Station
Address: 1-4 Ironai, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Hotel Sonia Otaru

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The major selling point of Hotel Sonia is its situation right on the Otaru Canal, however, away from its location, the hotel can also boast larger than average rooms, English speaking staff and a good breakfast. Prices are very reasonable considering the central location. 

Website: Hotel Sonia
Nearest Station: Otaru Station
Address: 1-4-20 Ironai, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Hotel Neushloss Otaru

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A space-age hotel on a cliffside overlooking the ocean. Hotel Neushloss Otaru is, if nothing else, unique. Spectacular views are guaranteed in every room, which also come with private hot spring baths. Although a little out of town, the hotel provides a free shuttle bus to and from Otaru Station at regular intervals. 

Website: Hotel Neuschloss
Address: 3-282 Shukutsu, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Hotel Vibrant Otaru

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Housed within a former bank building, there’s a certain grandeur to Hotel Vibrant that you’ll find in few other places. Although the rooms aren’t particularly spacious, they’re more than comfortable and chicly stylish. Just one minute from the canal, the location also great. 

Website: Vibrant Otaru
Nearest Station: Otaru Station
Address: 1-3-1 Ironai, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Otaru Furukawa

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Rustic charm, great location, fantastic onsen and attentive staff – Otaru Furukawa’s got it all. This place has all the elegance and attention to detail of a ryokan but without the price tag, so be sure to give it a go. 

Website: Otaru Furukawa
Nearest Station: Otaru Station
Address: 1-2-15 Ironai, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Smile Hotel Otaru

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Located adjacent to Otaru Station and a five-minute walk from the canal, Smile Hotel Otaru is highly convenient for exploring the city. Rooms are large, clean and comfortable and the prices reasonable given the location. 

Website: Smile Hotel Otaru
Nearest Station: Otaru Station
Address: 3-5-14 Inaho, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Otaru Asari Classe Hotel

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Otaru Asari Classe Hotel is located out in the Otaru countryside, set amongst rolling hills and forests. A stay at the hotel can make for a peaceful break from city life, or, as is common, it can be used as a base for skiers at the nearby Asari Ski Resort (15 minutes on foot). The onsen facilities are outstanding and rooms are large, light and comfortable. From Otaru Station, the hotel is around 30 minutes away by bus, the price for which will be refunded by the hotel if you show them your ticket. 

Website: Asari Classe
Address: 2-676 Asirgawa Onsen, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Asarigawa Hot Spring Ski Resort

File:130824 Asarigawa Onsen Otaru Hokkaido Japan07s3.jpg

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Travel east out of Otaru and you’ll soon come to the area’s famous ski country, where the winter snow is richly taken advantage of. One of the best ski resorts around is the Asarigawa Hot Spring Ski Resort at the base of Mount Asarigawa. A stay here entitles you to free roam of the resorts vast slopes as well as access to its fantastic onsen facilities. Get your adrenalin fix and sooth your soul all in the same day. 

Website: Asari Winter Resort
Address: 1-394 Asarigawaonsen, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Otaru Guesthouse Harvest

Otaru Guesthouse Harvest is one for the budget traveller. Prices are cheap but the facilties aren’t bad at all, with complimentary WiFi, cooking facilities and bicycles for rent. Private rooms and dorms are both available, for only slightly different prices. 

Website: Otaru Harvest
Address: 1-2-3 Nagahashi, Otaru, Hokkaido

 

Emina Backpackers Otaru Hostel

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Another budget option, this time on a slightly smaller scale. In fact, Emina Backpackers Otaru Hostel is more like the owners home with added guest rooms than a hostel outright. Those that appreciate homliness and local charm will love it, those that value privacy and modern conveniences, may not. 

Website: Otaru Emina
Address: 2-15-17 Midori, Otaru, Hokkaido

Otaru 1 Day Itinerary

If you’re based in Sapporo, Otaru makes for a great day-trip destination. Find below our suggested itinerary. 

Morning: Senkaku Market -> Sakaimachi Dori Street (境町通り)

Afternoon: Kamaei -> Kitaichi Glass Hall and Sangokan (北一硝子三号館) -> LeTAO Cheese Cake Lab -> Otaru Music Box Museum (Otaru Orgel Emporium)

Evening: Otaru Canal -> Naruto Chicken Otaru

How to get to Otaru

Sapporo-Otaru Welcome Pass

If you’re in Japan on a tourist visa, take advantage of the Otaru Welcome Pass. The 1,700 yen pass includes a return journey from Sapporo to Otaru and a one day pass for the subway once you’re there (can be used on separate days if you’d like). Given that a regular Sapporo to Otaru train ticket costs around 1,300 yen, it’s likely the pass will save you at least some money. 

Click here for more detailed information (where to purchase, areas covered, and validity).

 

Sapporo to Otaru

To get to Otaru Station from Sapporo Station simply take the JR Hakodate Main Line. There’s no need to change trains and the trip only takes around 30 – 45 minutes and costs 640 yen (one way). 

Please check the following links for a detailed schedule:

Weekday Timetable

Saturday Timetable

Sunday and Holiday Timetable

If you’d rather take the bus, it takes roughly one hour and costs 610 yen. 

 

New (Shin) Chitose Airport to Otaru

From the airport, a train to Otaru Station will take between 90 minutes and two hours and cost 1780 yen. For detailed information, don’t hesitate to ask at the Information Center. 

 

Hakodate to Otaru

To get from Hakodate in the south of the island to Otaru in the north by train, take a Hokuto or Super Hokuto train from Hakodate to Sapporo and from there switch to the Hakodate Line for Otaru. The journey, in total, should take around five hours and costs around 10,000 yen. 

Alternatively, consider a bus for the first leg of your journey between Hakodate and Sapporo. Although the journey will take longer, overnight buses in Japan are extremely comfortable and very reasonably priced. Bus tickets can be bought from major train stations. 

 

Otaru to Kiroro Ski Resort

Two buses per day run between the popular Kiroro Ski Resort and Otaru, at 08:10 and 15:10. This is a Chuo bus service that can be caught from Otaru Station. The journey takes roughly one hour and costs 930 yen. 

 

Cape Kamui to Otaru

Unfortunately, the only way to get from Cape Kamui to Otaru is by car. If you haven’t got access to wheels, this is a problem. Taxis will happily take you but this will cost around 25,000 yen. 

Otaru Map

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Linh Duong

Hello from Compathy Magazine! I'm Linh Duong. We truly hope we can be your most trusted travel companion :)



Related travel categories

# Things to Do in Hokkaido # Things to Do in Otaru # Things to Do in Japan

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