Feb
4
2015

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!~

smilie Visited: February 10th 2014 smilie

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

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.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

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“.

Otaru Snow Light Path 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.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

On my way from the station to the Otaru Canal I even ran into a few lovely ice-cube flowers.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

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.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

Although there was THAT much snow, trains were running just fine.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

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.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

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~

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

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?

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

This looks more like it could actually be fun!

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

Otaru’s manhole covers feature beavers?!?

Not exactly sure if they’re really beavers and I didn’t ask. Anybody knows?

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

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.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

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.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

Along the canal are Victorian-style street lamps.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

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.

Otaru 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.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

A few shops and restaurants were doing some winter fun stuff and were trying to lure in their customers with snow Maneki Neko.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

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.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

As you can see I tried to find all the snow cats I saw on the map earlier. ^__^;

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

There were a lot of creative shop owners. Such a cute snowman!

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

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.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

Aww, probably the cutest snowman couple I’ve ever seen.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

Among all the shops, there’s also the “Music Box Museum“, “Museum of Venetian Art” and the “Bank of Japan Museum“.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

So, drop by if you’re interested. They’re all pretty close to each other (= walking distance).

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

Inside the “Music Box Museum” you’ll find a lot of tempting stuff.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

These were just too adorable!

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

There’s also the “Otaru City Museum” which is a short walk (~ 10 mins) from Otaru Canal.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

They have some lovely exhibitions, but nothing too overwhelming.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

Hokkaido has especially delicious cheesecake, so you can’t visit Otaru without trying one.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

Here’s a menu from “Le Tao” which probably has THE best cheesecake.

Otaru Snow Light Path Festival

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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