A stroll through Otaru

The first quest in Otaru was to find a parking lot which wouldn’t be so expensive but there weren’t any so we parked the rented car next to a supermarket. Not very nice, I know. Taking the train from Sapporo would have been much smarter since it doesn’t even take a full hour to get there. Second quest was to find that street food place we knew from the last time we had visited Otaru, where they grill all sorts of sea food, which turned out to be quite easy since Otaru is small compared to Sapporo for example. The town has lovely shops with remarkable glass art but the main attraction is definitely the canal with the old warehouses which line up the waterway. Otaru made it to prosperity mainly during the Meiji era with the herring and glass industry. It’s easy to spot all the historical buildings around the canal area which are often built in Western style.

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Otaru canal on a gloomy day

Otaru’s proximity to Sapporo make it a perfect destination for day trips so there were many strolling tourists. Shopping, eating and walking around the old alleys is probably the main reason why people come here. There’s a variety of restaurants but since we still had our whole, fresh octopus we asked at a food stand if they could grill it for us. The cook wasn’t even very surprised and a few minutes later we were having our grilled tako and beer.

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小樽出抜小路 – Denuki Koji

Even though it was a gloomy day, the atmosphere in Otaru would be described as romantic by most. There’s a nostalgic feel to the town and it’s very probable to walk past the same people several times which gives it a familiar touch. The atmosphere gets even more scenic when it starts to get dark and all the lights go on. Unfortunately I was too lazy to take out my tripod, so I didn’t get some shots of the canal with the Christmas illumination which I regret now.

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Simple udon with agedama – fried tempura flakes

It was getting late and since we didn’t feel like spending lots of money and all the places we came across were pretty touristy and cramped, especially the Denuki koji, a district with tiny restaurants where only a handful of people would fit in, we went for some udon and soba somewhere outside Otaru, where we once again were the only guests.
I had looked forward to come back here since the first time we visited in 2008, but the experience wasn’t as charming as the first one. That’s probably also due to the fact that we only stayed for half a day what made me feel somewhat rushed. But that’s something I’ve brought on myself by planning the whole stay in Japan so tightly which also led to a constant lack of sleep. It’s actually unbelievable how many places we’ve seen and what distances my boyfriend had to drive because all the hotels and airbnbs were booked in advance but I guess I learned a lesson.

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Otaru has very well worth a visit and even though it is doable in one day, it’s full charm is only revealed if you take your time and well… have enough cash which we both didn’t. If you’re lucky you’ll get to see Otaru with lots of snow but December was still too early for strong snow fall so we missed that too. Autumn though is really pretty as well.

Love, Alice
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