Otaru: A lovely Winter Wonderland in Hokkaido
Otaru in winter offers romantic snow landscape views. It’s not far away from popular Sapporo in Hokkaido.
Today I want to take a stroll together with you through the Winter Wonderland Otaru. Enjoy!~
Otaru (小樽) is a small city not too far from the well-known Sapporo, both located in Hokkaido Prefecture (map).
It’s probably most famous for the “Otaru Canal“.
Today I want to show you how Otaru looks in winter and what kind of things you can do and see while there.
Many people visit Otaru as a day trip from Sapporo.
As the famous nearby “Sapporo Yuki Matsuri” is held in February, there are usually a lot of tourists coming to Otaru in winter.
Luckily Otaru has its own snow event in February called “The Otaru Light Path Snow Festival“.
The Otaru festival is held after it gets dark, but there are many things you can enjoy during the day as well.
Many tiny snow sculptures are already set up pretty much everywhere.
On my way from the station to the Otaru Canal I even ran into a few lovely ice-cube flowers.
Just be aware that there can be a LOT of snow in Hokkaido in February.
Dress accordingly and if you’re not used to driving in heavy snow, use public transportation instead.
Although there was THAT much snow, trains were running just fine.
I also saw all the buses running that day, but I think they’d stop in case of heavy snowstorms.
So, just keep in mind that this could happen when you visit.
For people who are not used to snow, there are a lot of funny things to discover.
Just look at the dog statue! They dressed it up so it won’t freeze. Aww~
Though Otaru certainly gets less tourists than Sapporo, there are a few touristy things you can do.
But I doubt anybody would want to use a rickshaw in this cold?
This looks more like it could actually be fun!
Otaru’s manhole covers feature beavers?!?
Not exactly sure if they’re really beavers and I didn’t ask. Anybody knows?
This is the famous “Otaru Canal“. It’s only a short walk (~15 mins) from the JR Otaru Station and it’s pretty easy to find.
In Japanese it’s called “Otaru Unga” (小樽運河). It was part of Otaru City’s port in the previous century.
Smaller ships and boats transported goods to the warehouses along the canal.
You can still see some of the warehouses along Otaru Canal. Nowadays, however, you’ll find museums, restaurants and shops inside.
Along the canal are Victorian-style street lamps.
It’s a beautiful area for a walk during any season of the year, but in winter it’s one of the main locations of the Snow Light Path Festival.
Another tourist attraction is Sakaimachi Street (境町通り), a preserved merchant district.
Many of the houses have been turned into souvenir shops or restaurants.
A few shops and restaurants were doing some winter fun stuff and were trying to lure in their customers with snow Maneki Neko.
And I’d say it definitely worked. The snow cats were too cute to ignore, so the shops behind also got a lot of attention.
As you can see I tried to find all the snow cats I saw on the map earlier. ^__^;
There were a lot of creative shop owners. Such a cute snowman!
Like I mentioned earlier, Otaru’s famous snow festival begins in the evening. But as you can see, there’s plenty of adorable stuff to explore during daytime as well.
Aww, probably the cutest snowman couple I’ve ever seen.
So, drop by if you’re interested. They’re all pretty close to each other (= walking distance).
Inside the “Music Box Museum” you’ll find a lot of tempting stuff.
These were just too adorable!
There’s also the “Otaru City Museum” which is a short walk (~ 10 mins) from Otaru Canal.
They have some lovely exhibitions, but nothing too overwhelming.
Hokkaido has especially delicious cheesecake, so you can’t visit Otaru without trying one.
Here’s a menu from “Le Tao” which probably has THE best cheesecake.
I tried the “Double Fromage” cheesecake and it was extremely fabulous.
You can easily see all the major tourist attractions in Otaru without being in a rush in a single day. Many people visit Otaru as a day trip from Sapporo. That’s what I did, too.
I hope you enjoyed this stroll through Otaru in winter during day time. If you want to see Otaru at night, lit up during the Snow Path Festival, please refer to this post.
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Events in Jan/Feb 2017:
- Jan 15: Matobakai (Kumamoto)
- Jan 15: Toh-shiya (Kyoto)
- Jan 17: Bonden-sai (Akita)
- Jan 28: Yamayaki (Nara)
- Feb 3: Setsubun (nationwide)
- Feb 3-12: Otaru Yuki Akari no Michi
- Feb 6-12: Sapporo Snow Festival
- Feb 7-12: Asahikawa Winter Festival
- Feb 15-16: Yokote Kamakura Festival
- Feb 17-19: Tokamachi Snow Festival
- Feb 18: Naked Festival at Saidai-ji (Okayama)