The Truth About Otaru – Japan’s Hidden Gem

Nestled on Hokkaido’s coast, Otaru is a delightful surprise. It’s a sweet treat for those who venture beyond Japan’s well-trodden tourist paths. Known for its beautifully preserved canal area and rich history, Otaru offers a blend of cultural charm and scenic beauty.

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What Is Otaru Known For?

Otaru is famous for its beautifully preserved canal district that harks back to its prosperous port days. With warehouses now converted into charming boutiques and cafes, Otaru takes you on a journey to a bygone era. The city is also renowned for its glassworks and music boxes.

Places to Stay

Accommodation in Otaru caters to various budgets. From cosy ryokans to hotels like Grand Park Otaru, there’s something for every traveller. Want to stay at the best hotel in Hokkaido but don’t have the budget for it? Keep an eye out for offers and packages; you will find a place that fits your needs and budget.

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Otaru is from June to August, when the weather is warm, and the city is vibrant with festivals and outdoor activities. Winter, February in particular, is also a great time to visit, especially if you’re interested in the famous Otaru Snow Light Path Festival.

Things to Do

There’s no shortage of activities in Otaru. Take a stroll along the canal, explore the city’s rich history in museums like the Otaru Music Box Museum, or enjoy a scenic cruise from the port. Nature lovers can head to nearby Tenguyama for hiking in summer or skiing in winter.


Otaru’s culinary scene is as diverse as its culture. Being a port city, it’s a paradise for seafood lovers, with fresh sushi and sashimi being local specialities. Don’t miss out on grilled seafood and sweet corn – the city’s famous street food.  For a unique experience, visit one of the local sake breweries to sample the city’s rice wine.