Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Otaru, My Favourite Spot in Hokkaido

I've been to Hokkaido twice.
The first time I went was during end of winter and the second one, during the autumn a year later. 
Both seasons have their own distinctive sense of beauty and charm, therefore it's hard for me to justify which is the best season to visit Hokkaido.

Among few of the top destinations I went in Hokkaido, Otaru has always been my favourite spot.
Twice I went to Hokkaido, twice I went to Otaru as well. Hence I decided to combine and simplify my two visits into a single post instead.  

Otaru is situated on the northwest of Sapporo and it takes 30 minutes by rapid train or 45 minutes by local train along JR Hakodate Main Line. The first train leaves as early around 6am and the last train is at 10pm. Hence, it's possible just to do a day trip without considering to stay one more night, unless you feel like want to. 

When I went Hokkaido for the very first time in 2016, there was a special discount ticket limited to visitors from overseas which is known as Sapporo-Otaru Welcome Pass. Unfortunately, this handy pass has been discontinued.

So at this moment, you can only purchase the JR train tickets from Sapporo station and a single trip costs 640 yen for non-reserved ticket. In case you want reserve a seat, there will be additional fee of 520 yen. If you want to know more about the timetable for the rapid and local train, you could refer to Sapporo Station West Ticket Gate JR.

2016 Japan, Sapporo Otaru Welcome Pass
#1: Sapporo-Otaru Welcome Pass has been discontinued and currently, one way trip from Sapporo to Otaru costs 640 yen for non-reserved ticket.

Otaru Station
#2: Reach Otaru Station. So, what's next? 

There are plenty of things to do and see in Otaru itself. Not forgetting, there are even a long list of food awaiting to satisfy the tastebuds. Most of Otaru's attractions are located 20 to 30 minutes walk from Otaru Station. Once you exit from the train station, just head to the north and you will come across the popular Otaru Canal. However, this charming canal is always our final sighting after done with all the sightseeing, shopping and eating activities - you know, save the best for the last. 

Railway track of Temiya Line - While walking halfway from Otaru Station, we came across this railway track of the former narrow gauge railroad linking Minami-Otaru Station and Temiya Station. Since it is no longer operated, we can walk on it and even take hundred of photos on this preserved tracks. This track will lead you to the Sakaimachi Shopping Street. Did I hear shopping?

railway track of Former Ironai Station
#3: Railway track of Temiya Line

Sakaimachi Shopping Street - a preserved street in Otaru where the whole street is converted and lined up with countless of souvenir stores, glassmakers and artcraft shops, seafood restaurants and cafes on both left and right of the lane. 

Sakamachi Shopping Street
#4: Sakaimachi Shopping Street

Otaru is well-known for glassmakers and music boxes. Eventhough I'm not fancy any of them, but all these glassware and music boxes are so adorable and exquisite until I can't help myself from keep taking photos of them. However, do take note that there are few shops don't allow phototaking within the shop - so do respect and obey the sign.

Otaru Glassmakers
#5: Glasswares

Otaru Glassmakers & Music Box
#6: Music boxes and glassarts

Don't forget to visit Otaru Music Box Museum at the end of Sakaimachi Shopping Street. You will find yourself immerse in the beautiful and enchanting melody of the music boxes. Right in front of the museum is the Otaru Steam Clock, which is one of the oldest steam clocks in the world. For your information, the steam clock will chime at every 15 minutes. 

Otaru Museum Box Museum
#7: Music Box Museum and Otaru Steam Clock in front

Marchen Square is a spacious meeting point, especially for those tourists who join tours. When I was there for the first time, it was relatively quiet and not packed with many tourists. But it turned out differently on my second visit. If you reach this spot, it indicates that you have completed your Sakaimachi Shopping Street walk. 

Otaru Marchen Square
#8: Marchen Square

Last but not least, a visit to Otaru is incomplete without visit the prominent Otaru Canal like I mentioned earlier. I prefer to visit here before the sunset time and wait until the night for photo opportunity. Plus during this hour too, the crowd is getting less due to those tourists who join package tour had left earlier. 

Otaru Canal 01
#9: Otaru Canal during end of winter time

Hokkaido Otaru 05
#10: Enjoy the sunny day in Otaru Canal

Hokkaido Otaru 02
#11: Otaru Canal during the autumn time

Hokkaido Otaru 03
#12: Otaru Canal during night time

When comes to food in Otaru, there are few in the list you shouldn't miss out. So, it's best to visit Otaru with an empty stomach or else, you will miss out the best food of Otaru. And where is the best spot for food hunting? None other than in Sakaimachi Shopping Street itself. 

My family and I began our food adventures with fresh seafood. There is abundant of fresh seafood shops you will bump into when start strolling along the street. Japan is well-known for fresh seafood so whenever shops you pick, it will never go wrong. 

Fresh Seafood in Otaru
#13: Abundance of fresh seafood shops
There are two well-known pastry shops which originated in Otaru, namely LeTAO and Kitakaro

LeTAO is famed for its masterpiece Fromage Double, a double layered cheesecake. Just one bite and you will experience the cheesecake melts like snow. The upper layer is creamy and milky no-bake cheesecake whereas the lower layer is soft and rich baked cheesecake. Apparently there are few LeTao shops in Otaru but I would recommend the one located end of the Sakaimachi Shopping Street which is the main shop. Here, you can enjoy great view of the street and port while satisfy your sweet tooth craving.

LeTao Double Frommage Cheesecake 01
#14: LeTAO Fromage Double cake

LeTao 02
#15: Paradise for the sweet tooth craving

LeTao 03
#16: LeTAO main shop at the end of Sakaimachi Shopping Street

LeTAO main shop
Address: 7-16 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido Prefecture.

As for Kitakaro, it is popular for its legendary soft custard cream puff. Another one that will instantly melt in your mouth with a single bite. It's best to consume immediately once you purchase it to enjoy its freshness and crispiness.

Kitakaro Cream Puffs
#17: Kitakaro's soft custard cream puff

Kitakaro 02

Address: 7-22 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido Prefecture.

Another one which I found that many people didn't mention about it but I personally found this dessert to be outstanding and unique - the 8 layers of colourful soft ice-cream. Previously the one in Nakano of Tokyo, Daily Chico which is hype for its unbelievable 7 layers of soft ice-cream but not until I found another one with extra layer which I think it's worth to share with. For the price of 580 yen (approx. to RM21), I think it's best to share with friends cause eating alone it's not fun at all. 

8 layers of colourful soft ice-cream
#19: From the bottom: Green tea, lemon pop, lavender, melon, milk, chocolate, vanilla lavender swirl and chocolate vanilla swirl. 

8 layers of colourful soft ice-cream 02
#20: The shop

#21: Video of the rainbow ice-cream

And that's conclude what I did, saw and ate in Otaru.

This small but serene seaport town has definitely capture my heart and I don't mind going back for the third time, if I have the chance to go Hokkaido again. 

DT in Hokkaido
#22: DT 💗autumn more

Do you know that you can stop at JR Minami Otaru Station instead of JR Otaru Station? The first one is more nearer to the Music Box Museum, which is at the end of the Sakaimachi Street.

Perhaps you could get off from JR Minami Otaru Station first, stroll along Sakaimachi Shopping Street and end your visit at Otaru Canal and then get to JR Otaru Station.
JR Minani Otaru Station

My Previous Post on Hokkaido:


  1. I love Otaru and it is the best place to visit in Hokkaido. We bought normal train ticket and had to stand half the journey until some folks got off along the way. I went there during the Sapporo Snow Festival in early February and the whole place was filled with over 5 feet of snow yet so many tourists were there!! I should visit this place again in Autumn like your photos.

  2. ive been there once and its lovely. wouldnt mind if i have to visit Hokkaido again. nice photos and posts you have here. ive listed your bloglink in my bloglist. feel free to drop by my blog =)


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