Otaru, one of Hokkaido's leading port cities, holds much of the island's history. If you can imagine, Japan's northern island was fully pioneered only around 150 years ago!
The Otaru Canal in the port and the surrounding stone warehouses have much to tell of the city’s proud form of long ago, which paved the way to prosperity beyond Sapporo and the cultivation of Hokkaido.
There are many historical buildings that still stand around the Otaru Canal from 100 years ago, which provide a nostalgic atmosphere that you can enjoy as you walk around. Here are some of the best places to check out during your visit.

1. Otaru Canal: Otaru’s Largest Tourist Attraction

The Otaru Canal is a classic staple when it comes to famous sightseeing spots of Hokkaido. Once the distribution hub of Hokkaido, it boasted a population that even surpassed that of Sapporo. At that time the canal was used to offload ships via barges, and was established to lengthen the distance that goods could be distributed. Eventually the canal was no longer necessary to serve its function once the docks were established and was to be landfilled. However it currently stands as a place for citizens and tourists alike to relax and enjoy with its promenades and gas lamps lighting the riverbanks.

Upper left: A popular location for walking and photography. Upper right: You can also enjoy a cruise along the canal. Bottom left: Warehouse groups are lit up with gas lights at night. Bottom right: The event venue of the "Otaru Snow Light Path," an event held annually in February each year in which the surface of the canal and the walking paths are decorated with candle lights.

You can enjoy a romantic walk down the cobblestone path as you take in the sights of the gently flowing canal and the retro warehouses. It is a must-see location with 63 gas lamps lighting up the way, and is a beautiful sight to see no matter the time of day or night. This place is also one of the venues of the "Otaru Snow Light Road" event, held every February, where tens of thousands of candles illuminate the snowy city landscape and glass lanterns whimsically reflect the surface of the canal. The stone warehouses hold buildings such as restaurants just like the days of old, so it is recommended to stop by for lunch or dinner.

Otaru Canal
Minatomachi, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido Otaru canal

2. Otaru Art Village: An Age Decorated in Brilliant Architectural Art

Otaru City's historical buildings of the early 20th century are now used as various resources for tourism. The Otaru Art Base located opposite the Otaru Canal across Rinkosen Street is one such facility. There are four historical buildings where 20 of the largest banks in Hokkaido were gathered, formerly the center of Hokkaido's economy known as "North Wall Street."
What was the former Hokkaido Takushoku Bank Otaru Branch as seen in the picture is now home to the Nitori Museum of Art, and includes displays such as Japanese and foreign paintings, wood carvings, and more. In the basement y…

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