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Otaru Has Canal, Marchen Crossroads, Seafood and Hong Kong Style Chow Mein

April 24th, 2014


Otaru (小樽) that 120,000 people live is the 7th largest city in Hokkaido and is a port town located in the northwestern part of Sapporo city. It takes about 30 minutes from Sapporo to Otaru by a train . Otaru is one of the most popular tourist city, and 3.8 million people visit here every year. Otaru has a relatively calm climate, it is cold in a summer and there is much snow in a winter. Otaru was called an inaccessible land (陸の孤島) in old days because all transportation facilities paralyzed by a heavy snow.

Otaru Station

Otaru is one of the oldest town in Hokkaido. "Wajin (和人 * Japanese)" that settled in Otaru in 1596 was kept a record. Otaru was active foreign trading port with Russia until the early 20th century and was prospered as doorways of Hokkaido with Hakodate. It is a characteristic of this town that there are many slopes so as to be called a town of the slope.

Former Temniya Line

As for tourist attractions, many tourists visit a neighboring of history district around Otaru Canal (小樽運河) and Marchen Crossroads (メルヘン交差点), and Mt. Tenguyama (天狗山) that the tourists can look over the Otaru city and Otaru Aquarium (小樽水族館が) are famous. In addtion, Otaru has characteristic tasty foods such as Sushi or Seafood Rice Bowl using fresh marine products and characteristic sweets such as Panju (ぱんじゅう).


Tourist Attractions

Speaking of Otaru, it is Otaru Canal after all. The Otaru Canal is the most popular tourist spot in Otaru and is full of many tourists. Similarly, history inheritances around the canal are main tourist attractions, too. There are historical buildings such as former Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Otaru Branch (旧三井住友銀行小樽支店), Canal Plaza (運河プラザ), and stores in connections with the Otaru such as Kitaichi Glass (北一硝子館) and Otaru Music Box Museum (オルゴール堂) line up along Sakaimachi-dori street (堺町通り). In addition, Tenguyama Night View (天狗山の夜景) and Shukutsu Panorama View Point (祝津パノラマ展望台) are famous tourist attractions.

Otaru Canal

Otaru Canal (小樽運河) was built to unload a ship easily in 1923 because the marine transport became active. But the transport became diverse, and the marine transport was not used. It was said the canal was demolished for a while, but a part of the canal was preserve as a cultural site, and it changed to a sightseeing spot. The stone canal and brick buildings along the canal make us feel exoticism at that time. By the way, tourists can look over the canal on a sightseeing boat. Article is here

Winter Night View of Otaru Canal
otaru canal

Otaru Canal Can Be Watched on Youtube

Movie of Otaru Canal

Movie of Winter Otaru Canal

Sakaimachi-dori Street and Marchen Crossroads

Sakaimachi-dori Street (堺町通り) and Marchen Crossroads (メルヘン交差点) are between Otaru Station (小樽駅) and Minami-Otaru Station (南小樽駅), and are popular tourist spots with atomosphere of Taisho Period and Medieval Europe. A lot of tourists come to restraunts, popular souvenir shops such as Kitaichi Glass (北一硝子), Otaru Music Box Museum (小樽オルゴール堂) and LeTao (ルタオ) that stand side by side along the Sakaimachi-dori Street with stone pavement of about 1 km in length. Article is here

Otaru Music Box Museum
Otaru Marchen Crossroads
Sakaimachi-Dori Street
Otaru Marchen Crossroads

Shukutsu Panorama View Point

Shukutsu Panorama View Point (祝津パノラマ展望台) is located on a hill near Otaru Aquarium (小樽水族館) and was named literally by viewing 360 degrees of a scenery. It features the good view that tourists can look over the Sea of Japan (日本海). The tourists can look over Otaru aquarium, Hiyoriyama Lighthouse (日和山灯台), Nishin-goten (鰊御殿 * Herring Castles) on the Shukutsu Panorama View Point with about 70 m in heigh. It is a famous place for looking at the beautiful sunset. Admission free. A parking lot is free of charge. Article is this

Hiyoriyama Lighthouse and Nishin-goten

Shukutsu Panorama View Point Can Be Watched on Youtube

Movie of Shukutsu Panorama View Point

Mt. Tenguyama

Mt. Tenguyama (天狗山) is a ski resort with about 533 m in height and is located in the southwest of Otaru city. There is a ropeway station with a roof top observatory on the mountainside, and visitors can look over Otaru city and Gulf of Ishikari (石狩湾). A night view from Mt. Tenguyama is especially famous and is one of three major night views with Mt. Hakodateyama (函館山) and Mt. Moiwayama (藻岩山) in Hokkaido. It takes about 4 minutes from the foot of the mountain to the mountainside by the ropeway. There is a restraunt at the ropeway station, so the visitors can enjoy dishes and the view. In a summer, tourists can visit the mountaintop by their cars. But a mountain road is difference with the road to the ski resort. Article is here

Night View from Mt. Tenguyama
Otaru Mt. Tenguyama
Tenguyama Ski Resort
Otaru Mt. Tenguyama

Tenguyama Ski Resort Can Be Watched on Youtube

Movie of Tenguyama Ski Resort

Asahi Observatory

Asahi Observatory (旭展望台) is on a hill with about 190 m in height, and visitors can look over Otaru city here. The visitors turn right in front of the Otaru University (小樽商科大学) and advance to a road and reach to the Asahi Observatory. There is a monument of Takiji Kobayashi (小林多喜二) related to the Otaru near the observatory. It is famous as a night view spot, too. Admission free. A parking lot is free of charge. Article is here

I Look over Otaru City
Otaru asahi observatory

Asahi Observatory Can Be Watched on Youtube

Movie of Asahi Observatory

Kenashiyama View Point

Kenashiyama View Point (毛無山展望台) is a parking lot on the mountainside of Mt. Kenashiyama (毛無山) at 470 m above sea level along Japanese National Route 393 and is far from Otaru downtown. There is no facility except the parking lot. Kenashi (ケナシ) means "Place That Trees Grow Thick (木々の生えるところ)" in Ainu language. But Kenashi (毛無) means "Baldness" in Japanese. In any case, maybe this place is related to hair. In addition, Mountains in Mashike (増毛) can be seen, if it is fine. Mashike (増毛) means "Increasing The Hair" in Japanese. I am curious about which the hair is increasing or decreasing. Put it aside, a view of Otaru and a night view of Otaru are very good, and views of the mountains are very good, too. Admission free. A parking lot is free of charge. Article is here

View from Kenashiyama View Point
Kenashiyama View Point in Otaru

Cherry Blossoms of Temiya Park

Temiya Park (手宮公園) is a comprehensive park opend in 1900 on a hill in Otaru city. About 700 cherry trees such as Yoshino Cherry Tree (ソメイヨシノ), Yezo Mountain Cherry Tree (エゾヤマザクラ) and Chishima Cherry Tree (チシマザクラ) are planted. Temiya Park Has Temiya Botanical Garden (手宮緑化植物園), Otaru Temiya Park Arena (小樽手宮公園競技場) and Temiya Cave (手宮洞窟), and the Temiya Botanical Garden is famous for the cherry blossoms. The Temiya Botanical Garden is divided into 15 areas such as Japanese Garden Area, Cherry Tree Area and Rhododendron Area, and visitors can enjoy flowers and plants every season. It is a good place for looking over the Sea of Japan, so many visitors come to see a nice conbination of the sea and the cherry blossoms in a spring. Alomost Yoshio Cherry Blossoms had already fallen when I visited here in 9 May 2017. If those are in full bloom, I think the great conbination. The best time to see is from late April to early May. Admission free. A parking lot is free of charge. There is a restroom beside the parking lot. Wacth your car because the parking lot is small. Article is here

Combination of Blue Sea and Pink Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Blossoms of Temiya Park in Otaru

Tasty Foods

Fresh seafood, fried spring chickens (若鶏の半身揚げ) and Hong Kong Style Chow Mein (あんかけ焼きそば) are famous foods in Otaru.


There is a fishing port in Otaru facing the sea, and fresh fishery products are landed. Therefore sushi is famous from old days. Otaru is called the Sushi Town. There are about 100 sushi restaurants in the city now. Article of Sushi is this

Movie of Otaru Sushita
Movie of Otaru Masasushi

Sankaku Fish Market and Seafood Rice Bowl

Because the shape of the market's site was a triangle, this market was named Sankku Fish Market (三角市場). * Sankaku is the triangle in Japanese language. It is famous for seafood rice bowl, many visitors come. They sell foods such as dried fishes or vegetables other than marine products, and local people visit the market to buy fresh seafood, too. Article of Seafood Rice Bowl is here.

Sankaku Fish Market
Sankaku Fish Market

Atmosphere of Sankaku Fish Market Can Be Watched on Youtube

Movie of Sankaku Fish Market

Movie of Takinami Shokudo


Naruto (なると) is a long-established restaurant in Otaru city and was founded in 1952. Otaru citizen has been using the regular restaurant for a long time. I heard about Naruto from a photographer who come from Otaru and is my friend. He told me that a fried spring chicken was famous. Both appearance and interior decoration had an atomosphere such as a good old Japanese restraunt. There were many tables and family customers seem to enjoy. Article is here

Fried Spring Chicken, Rice, Miso Soup, Tofu and Pickles
Fried Spring Chicken Combo -Naruto in Otaru-

Fried Spring Chicken Combo and Atmosphere of Restaurant Can Be Watched on Youtube

Movie of Fried Spring Chicken of Naruto

Hong Kong Style Chow Mein

Hong Kong style Chow Mein is one of the local doshes loved by Otaru citizen. It is said that Mr. Koji Kondo (近藤庫司) who acted as an executive chef in Otaru Center Hotel (小樽中央ホテル) spreaded it. About 100 restaurants serve the Hong Kong Style Chow Mein. There are few restaurants that Hong Kong Style Chow Mein is not placed in a menu. I visited Ryuho (龍鳳).

Hong Kong Style Chow Mein -Ryuho in Otaru-

Hong Kong Style Chow Mein and Atmosphere of Restaurant Can Be Watched on Youtube

Movie of Hong Kong Style Chow Mein of Ryuho


Speaking of Ramen in Otaru, Shodai (初代) is most popular with tourists and local people. In addition, Mikan (みかん), Tokaiya (渡海屋), Mahoro (麻ほろ) and Tororian (とろり庵) are famous, too. I visited Shodai and Mikan.

Soy Sauce Ramen of Shodai
Otaru Ramen -Shodai-
Miso Ramen of Mikan
Miso Ramen -Mikan in Otaru-


Otaru has historical sweets shops such as Kagetsudo (花月堂) that was founded n 1851 and Niikuraya (新倉屋) that was founded in 1895, those are said to be the oldest sweets shops in Hokkaido. In addition, Otaru citizen has familiar sweets such as cookies of Amatou (あまとう) and Panju. Furthermore, there are new sweets stores such as Letao.


Amatou Head Office is a long-established confectionery store in Otaru city and was founded in 1929. It is the store that everyone know in Otaru. There is a coffee shop at a building, too, and sweets such as Cream Zenzai (クリームぜんざい * Zenzai with ice cream) is popular. Article is here

Cookie of Amatou
Otaru Amatou


LeTao (ルタオ) is a popular confectionery store in Otaru city and was founded in 1998. Kotobuki Spirits Co. Ltd. (寿スピリッツ株式会社), famous confectionery company in Tottori, is a parent company. I thought that an origin of Letao inverted Otaru in Japanese language, but it was wrong. It is an initial "Dear tower of Otaru in French language (Le Tour Amitie Otaru)". That was unexpected. Along Sakaimachi-Dori Street, there are 5 stores, LeTao Head Office (ルタオ本店), Pathos Branch (パトス), Le Chocolat Branch (ルショコラ), Cheese Cake Labo Branch (チーズケーキラボ) and Plus Branch (プラス). I visited LeTao Head Office and Pathos Branch.

Sweets Combo with Marvelous Meltable in Mouth
Otaru Letao
Venezia Rendez-Vous of Letao
Otaru Letao


Panjyu is a muffin which put Japanese muffin containing bean jam (今川焼き) and octopus dumplings (たこ焼き) together. It is a baked wheat flour dough with bean jam or custard cream and so on. Hokkaido has 4 panjyu stores, and there are 3 Panju stores in 4 Panju store in Otaru city. Each Panjyu seem to be different in kinds of bean jam and its shape. I visited Nishikawa Panju Store (西川ぱんじゅう店), Shofukuya (正福屋), Kuwataya (桑田屋).

Panju of Nishikawa Panju Store
Otaru Nishikawa Panju Store Panju
Panjyu of Shofukuya
Otaru Shofukuya Panju
Panjyu of Kuawataya
Otaru Kuwataya Panju


Asarigawa Onsen (朝里川温泉) is far away from Otaru down town a little. There are a golf course and a ski resort in Asarigawa Onsen, and it has an atomosphere such as a resort.

Asarigawa Onsen

Asarigawa Onsen in Otaru city is a hot-spring resort located in the northwestern part of Sapporo city and is famous as a resort between Sapporo city and Otaru city. This resort is called a back room of Otaru city (小樽の奥座敷). There are Asari Dam (朝里ダム) and a golf course, a park golf course, a ski resort and an automatic campging round in the hot-spring resort. Visitors can take take a day trip bath at Kourakuen (宏楽園), Hotel Musashitei (ホテル武蔵亭), Otaru Asari Classe Hotel (小樽朝里クラッセホテル) and Kanpo-no-Yado Otaru (かんぽの宿 小樽). Article is here

Asarigawa Onsen
Asarigawa Onsen Hotel Musashitei Asarigawa Onsen in Otar

Atmosphere of Hotel Musashitei Can Be Watched on Youtube

Movie of Asarigawa Onsen Hotel Musashitei

Other Tourist Attractions

Except historic tourist attractions and beauty spots, Otaru Aquarium and Asari Dam are famous.

View from Kenashiyama View Point
Kenashiyama View Point in Otaru

Otaru Aquarium

260 kinds of aquatic habitats are bred. They held Walrus and Otaria Shows at Marine Mammal Park only in a summer. Admission and a parking lot are charged. In addition, tourists can play in an amusement park, too.

Otaru Aquarium
Otaru Aquarium

Atmosphere of Otaru Aquarium Can Be Watched on Youtube

Movie of Otaru Aquarium

Admission fee Adult: JPY 1400, Child: JPY 530, Infant: JPY 210.
Parking lot Summer season Large-size vehicles: JPY 1000, Capacity for midsize vehicles: JPT 800, Small-size vehicles: JPY 600, Motorcycle: JPY 200.
Winter season Free of charge
Business hours Summer season 10:00-17:00, Winter season 10:00-16:00
Regular closing day late March and late December
Telephone number +81-134-33-1400
Home page Home page is here

Asari Dam

Asari Dam is a concrete gravity dam with about 74 m in height in Otaru city and is located in the upper of Asarigawa Onsen. It was mainly built for the purposes of the prevention of disaster and securing drinking water in 1993, and Lake Otarunai (オタルナイ湖), a man-made lake, was born. Appearance of the dam looked nice. As a recreation and a relaxation for Otaru citizen, walk paths, Dam Memorial Hall and a tennis court are built around the dam now. In addition, Asari Ohashi (朝里大橋) called Asari Sky Loop (朝里スカイループ) near the Dam catches our eyes. Article is here


Asari Dam
Asari Dam and Lake Otarunai

Asari Dam and Lake Otarunai Can Be Watched on Youtube

Movie of Asari Dam and Lake Otarunai


Refer to following websites for the accommodations around Otaru.

Former Okagawa Pharmacy((旧)岡川薬局)
Uomatsu Ryokan(魚松旅館)
Hotel Sonia Otaru(ホテルソニア小樽)
Unga-no-Yado Otaru Furukawa(運河の宿 小樽 ふる川)
Hotel Nord Otaru(ホテルノルド小樽)
Dormy Inn Premium Otaru(ドーミーインPREMIUM小樽)
Authent Hotel Otaru(オーセントホテル小樽)
Hotel Inaho(ホテル稲穂)
Tabino Sanpoyado Otaru Ekimae Guest House Ito(小樽駅前ゲストハウスIto)
Smile Hotel Otaru(スマイルホテル小樽)
Oyado Sakurai(御宿 櫻井)
Etchuya Ryokan(越中屋旅館)
The Otarunai Backpacker's Hostel Morinoki(おたるないバックパッカーズホステル杜の樹)
Otarukitaunga Kamomeya(おたる北運河かもめや)
Life House IPPO(Life House IPPO)
Otaru Nupuri Hostel (Female Only)(小樽ヌプリホステル)
Otaru Guest House(小樽ゲストハウス)
Otaru Villa Mount Tengu(小樽ヴィラマウンテング)
Otaru Tenguyama Honkan(小樽天狗山 本館)
Otaru Tenguyama Sanrokukan(小樽天狗山 山麓館)
emina backpackers(えみな バックパッカーズ)
Hotel Neu Schloss Otaru(ホテルノイシュロス小樽)
Hotel Musashitei(ホテル武蔵亭)
Kanpo-no-Yado Otaru(かんぽの宿 小樽)
Otaru Asari Classe Hotel(小樽朝里 クラッセホテル)
Otaru Ryotei Kuramure(小樽旅亭 蔵群)
Winkel Village(ウィンケルビレッジ)
Pine House(パインハウス)
Pension Shadow Classe(ペンション・シャドウクラッセ)
Pension Puti Hotel Roman(ペンション プチホテルろーまん) Only Tel:+81-134-52-2118
Ryobo Hanaemi(旅房はなえみ)



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