Otaru Photo Gallery

Otaru was once among the top Japanese ports in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The architecture reflected this prominence, although today's Otaru is more a tourism town, showcasing its past glory. Only 30 minutes from Sapporo by train, Otaru is a good day trip option.

Numerous shops and restaurants line Sakai-machi Hondori Street. Some sell fresh seafood from the tank, and they will grill it for you on-the-spot. Alternatively, you can buy some frozen ones to further process at home.

Surrounded by the sea, Hokkaido is famous for seafood, especially crabs and scallops. I suppose the salmon and squid here would still be decent?

It's hard to beat the language barrier, but take out your phone and photograph the plastic model to order more efficiently inside.

The Museum of Finance now occupies the former Bank of Japan branch, which was completed in 1912. Many banks opened branches here during the height of its economic dominance.

Some of the exhibits are interactive. Feel the weight of 100 million yen. Obviously, they didn't use real bank notes.

Western architecture showcase this former "Wall Street of the North".

The Otaru Canal was built in 1923 to separate the shore from the harbour land reclamation project. It was originally slated for destruction in the 1960's for road construction, but preservationists saved half of it.

The Otaru City Museum occupies a former warehouse and showcases the city's history and heritage. Prosperity began with the herring industry, followed by trade.

The curators re-created storefronts from the early 20th century.

A combination ticket also allows entry into the Railway Museum, a further walk westwards. The Japanese are very fond of their railways, and this type of museum is common across the country. There are plenty of dioramas, artifacts, historic maps, and real trains to keep visitors busy for a few hours.

Mt. Tengu offers a very nice vantage point of Otaru and the ocean beyond. However, since the skies were clouding over, I opted for the views at the base of the cable car instead. It's not a long ride up actually, and the cable car is less than 20 minutes by bus from the railway station.

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