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One Day in Otaru: Explore Otaru Canal, Museums, and Lovely Streetscapes

Otaru is a popular travel destination in Hokkaido that's only an hour from Sapporo and easily accessible from New Chitose Airport. We introduce sightseeing spots for a one-day itinerary, including transportation information! This guide is great for first-time visitors to this vibrant port city.

2021.05.31

From Sapporo to Otaru

Sapporo is one of the top destinations for those planning a trip to Hokkaido. Moreover, many international visitors to Sapporo stop by Otaru, a nearby sightseeing destination.

Our writer started her trip in Sapporo before venturing out to Otaru. In this article, we feature a one-day travel itinerary to Otaru, a place our writer is very familiar with thanks to her many visits. There's also detailed information on transportation, so first-time visitors can make the most of their trip!

Table of Contents

- Roundtrip Access Between Sapporo and Otaru
- Recommended 1-Day Itinerary for First-Time Visitors
- Ways to Travel in Otaru

Access to Otaru from Sapporo

Want to Get to Otaru Fast? Take the JR Line

JR Otaru

It takes 30 to 40 minutes on a JR Line rapid train to reach Otaru Station from Sapporo Station. Often, you won't find a seat on ordinary trains. Be sure to select a paid (520 yen) reserved ticket to ensure you have a seat.

Have a Lot of Luggage? Take the Express Bus

Otaru Highway Bus

If you're traveling with large luggage, we recommend taking the express bus. The bus will make stops at sightseeing spots along its route, including Shiroi Koibito Park and the Sapporo Clock Tower. Total travel time is 50 to 80 minutes. The fare is 680 yen one-way, but you'll receive a small discount for a round-trip ticket, which costs 1,270 yen.

Best for First-Timers! Recommended 1-Day Itinerary

Otaru Sankaku Market

Otaru Sankaku Market Takinami Shokudo

Otaru Sankaku Market is right next to Otaru Station. This market sells fresh seafood, vegetables, and fruit, and also features several restaurants where you can enjoy fresh seafood dishes. If you’re not sure where to go, try Takinami Shokudo! This eatery's specialty is seafood bowls!

Customers can choose their favorite ingredients from the local, freshly caught seafood, such as uni (sea urchin), ikura (salmon roe), crab, and Sakura shrimp. After making your selection, you'll have a one-of-a-kind seafood bowl.

After finishing your dazzling meal, it’s time for some sightseeing around Otaru!

The Former Temiya Line

Temiya Line

Once you’ve eaten, let’s visit the Otaru Canal. On the way, you'll pass by the former Temiya Line. Although this railroad has been retired, it holds a special place in the hearts of locals. Today, the railway has been beautifully trimmed and cleaned up, giving it new life as a photo spot and walking route.

Otaru Canal

Otaru Canal

Otaru Canal immediately comes to mind as the city's most famous sightseeing spot! This romantic canal is especially beautiful during the day, so be sure to capture the moment with a photo!

If you have extra time, consider the Otaru Canal Cruise! You can marvel at the canal’s scenery from a completely different perspective.

Click here for more details on the Otaru Canal Cruise.

Otaru Denuki Koji

Otaru Denuki Koji

Feeling a bit tired from walking? Let's take a short break at Otaru Denuki Koji—a street lined with food stalls next to the canal. You can enjoy local specialties that are only found in Hokkaido.

Otaru Naruto-ya

Our recommendation is Otaru Naruto-ya, a restaurant serving crispy, juicy zangi. Zangi is a local Hokkaido dish made by seasoning ingredients, tossing them in flour, then deep-frying them in oil. Zangi chicken is the most famous rendition of this dish. It's similar to Japanese karaage (bite-sized fried chicken).

Satisfy your appetite with the Cup Zangi, or take a big bite of the lightly salted Wakadori Hanshin Age (fried half-chicken)!

Taisho Glass Palace

Otaru is known for its glass production. Taisho Glass Palace is a famous glass specialty store in the city. Several branches are located in Otaru, with each store showcasing their own concept and selling different products. Visitors should definitely stop by one of their stores!

Taisho Glass Palace Flagship Store

The flagship store is incredibly beautiful. The building was constructed in 1903 and has since been renovated. The exterior walls are made from a sturdy stone material called Sapporo Nanseki (a type of soft stone). This building is also listed as a Designated Historic Landmark of Otaru City.

Taisho Glass Palace

The store’s glass products all exude artistic beauty. They also sell limited-edition items, and even host glass-making workshops where participants can make their own unique glass products!

Otaru Sakaimachi-Dori Shopping Street

Otaru Sakaimachi-Dori Shopping Street

Next, let’s head to the bustling Otaru Sakaimachi-dori Shopping Street! This shopping street is filled with several souvenir and dessert shops.

Kitaichi Glass

Kitaichi Glass

Kitaichi Glass is a specialty glass store that's just as famous as Taisho Glass Palace. There are several branches in Otaru Sakaimachi-dori, with an array of products that differ at each location.

Kitaichi Hall

Inside Kitaichi Glass Sangokan is a cafe called Sangokan Kitaichi Hall. The store is lit by kerosene lamps manufactured with Otaru glass. The dim, flickering lights inside the store create a magical atmosphere.

LeTAO

Fromage Danish DANI LeTAO

LeTAO is an Otaru-based sweets brand. There are five shops in the Otaru Sakaimachi-dori area alone. Every store sells their own limited-edition products, so you’ll want to visit all of them if you have a sweet tooth. Savor each unique flavor made with Hokkaido ingredients!

Rokkatei and Kitakaro

In addition to glass products, popular souvenirs can be purchased at confectionery stores like Rokkatei and Kitakaro.

Rokkatei

Rokkatei’s signature product is the Marusei Butter Sandwich. They’re also known for their Marusei Caramel, Rokkatei Tsuyu (bonbon chocolates), and freeze-dried Strawberry Chocolate. These tasty sweets are wrapped in gorgeous packaging with flower patterns that are sure to delight.

Otaru Kitakaro

Kitakaro is a store that fuses Western and Japanese sweets into tasty confections. We recommend their Hokkaido Kaitaku Okaki—rice crackers made with Hokkaido seafood—and the Yosei no Mori ("Fairy Forest") Baumkuchen cake.

Otaru Music Box Museum

Otaru Music Box Museum

Music boxes are another Otaru souvenir popular with visitors. You'll find all kinds of music boxes sold at this museum.

Otaru Music Box Museum Main Building Steam Clock

The steam clock in front of the Otaru Music Box Museum is the only one of its kind in Japan. At fixed intervals, the clock releases steam and plays a melody. This wonderful sight always stops passersby in their tracks.

The Night View at Otaru Canal

Night View of Otaru

Photo by pixta
If you have time to spare, why not admire the night view and head back to the Otaru Canal? As darkness falls, the streetlights illuminate the long and narrow canal. It feels even more romantic at night!

Otaru Warehouse No.1

Otaru Warehouse No.1

Interested in catching the night view at Otaru Canal? Then we suggest having dinner at Otaru Warehouse No.1 along the waterway. Enjoy German cuisine with local Otaru beer while admiring the stunning night scenery.

Ways to Travel in Otaru

Exploring Otaru on Foot

JR Otaru Station

If you’re up for a long walk, you can easily travel around Otaru on foot. Download a map online beforehand or grab a physical copy at either JR Otaru Station or Otaru Canal Plaza.

Otaru Station Sightseeing Map

Maps, timetables, and other sightseeing information can be found at JR Otaru Station.

Canal Plaza Tourist Information

Otaru Canal Plaza, which is located near Otaru Canal, also has maps and sightseeing information in multiple languages. You can also take a small break here. It’s a great place to decide where to go with your travel partner before heading out.

Bus

Two bus services operate in Otaru. The first is the Otaru Stroller’s Bus for sightseeing and the second is the Otaru City Bus. This is a convenient option for those traveling long distances, or families with children.

Otaru Stroller’s Bus

A majority of bus stops along the Otaru Stroller’s Bus route are for sightseeing. You can easily travel around famous spots by riding this bus. Do note that the Otaru Stroller’s Bus (*) ends its service quite early. Don’t forget to check the departure time of the last bus!

One-Way Fare: Adults 240 yen, Children 120 yen
Click here for route maps and timetables
*The bus service has been suspended as of May 2021.

Otaru City Bus

If you want to visit places that aren't along the Otaru Stroller’s Bus route, then take the Otaru City Bus. We recommend the night view from Tenguyama!

One-Way Fare: Adults 240 yen, Children 120 yen

Otaru City Bus One-Day Pass

If you’re thinking of traveling mainly by bus, then purchase the Otaru City Bus One-Day Pass. It costs 800 yen for adults (per ticket). It's a great price if you'll ride the bus at least four times. The pass can be used for unlimited rides on both the Otaru Stroller’s Bus and Otaru City Bus. You'll even receive discounts by presenting this pass at participating restaurants and shops.

Click here for details

Visit Local Spots if You're Staying Overnight

We've introduced just a few of the famous sightseeing spots and convenient transportation options in Otaru; if you plan to stay a few days, check out MATCHA’s articles on Otaru below!

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The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.