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Otaru Tenguyama Ropeway to Mount Tengu

From Otaru Tenguyama Ropeway, you can reach the peak of Mount Tengu (Otaru Tenguzan) to enjoy the panoramic view of Otaru Port and Ishikari Bay. On a clear day you can see as far as Mt. Shokanbetsu and the Shakotan Peninsula. The views offered of downtown Otaru and the Sea of Japan are said to be one of the three best night views in Hokkaido.

How to Get to Otaru Tenguyama

It is near the Tenguyama Ropeway bus stop (last stop). 17 min. ride on Hokkaido Chuo Bus bound for Tenguyama Ropeway from Otaru Station on JR Hakodate Main Line.

Otaru Tenguyama

Mount Tengu, also known as Otaru Tenguzan, is located to the SouthWest of downtown Otaru. It is an Otaru landmark and was listed as one star in the “Michelin Green Guide Japan”. Otaru Tenguzan is a symbolic mountain of Otaru at 532 meters above sea level.

The 30-person gondola carries visitors between the mountaintop station and the mountain foot station. In 4 minutes this ropeway travels from the base to the peak of Mount Tengu. See the city laid out in miniature.

View of Otaru from the gondola
View of Asahimachi
Otaru Panorama

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Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery

In Yoichi, a town in the Yoichi District, Shiribeshi Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan is one of Japan’s top whisky maker and main distillery: Nikka Whisky Yoichi Distillery.

Founded by Masataka Taketsuru in 1934, the history of Nikka Whisky began here in Yoichi and the rest is history.

How to get to Yoichi Distillery

The Nikka Whisky Distillery is located just a few steps west of Yoichi Station on the JR Hakodate Line. Yoichi Station can be reached in about 25 minutes by local trains from Otaru or in about one hour from Sapporo.

Yoichi Distillery Tour

You can visit the vast grounds of the distillery, where the original stone buildings of the factory and Taketsuru’s former home still stand. Some of the equipment on display, like the large copper pot still, are still used to this day.

Admission is free. Opening hours are from 9:00am – 5:00pm.

There are guided distillery tours (only in Japanese). Tour hours are from 9:00am – noon and from 1:00pm – 3:30pm. Tour lengths are approximately 70 minutes (tour of the whisky production process and tasting).

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, some restrictions on the distillery tours have been implemented.

Yoichi Distillery

Yoichi Distillery sits on over 132,000 acres of land.

At Latitude 43.2°N. The harsh and rich nature in the north satisfying everything needed for whisky making.

Masataka Taketsuru, the first Japanese who mastered whisky making in Scotland, valued the climate and natural features of the north. Yoichi, the place chosen by Masataka was close to the sea, surrounded by mountains on three sides and in many ways similar to Highland in Scotland. A cold climate with an appropriate humidity, crisp clean air and fresh water – everything necessary for his ideal whisky was available. The proximity to the sea is one of the distinctive features of Yoichi. The sea breeze gives a briny hint to the whisky during the maturation.

Pot stills

Direct coal-fired distillation. The tradition inherited from the foundation.

Masataka set a pot still using direct coal-fire when he built the Yoichi Distillery. This still was similar to pot stills at Longmorn Distillery where Masataka had the first practical training in Scotland. This traditional coal-fired distillation is hardly seen today as it is difficult to control temperature and requires highly skilled craftsmen. However, the distillation process at Yoichi has remained very traditional to this day. The characteristics of Yoichi Single Malt such as boldness and toasty burnt flavors are unique features of this distillation.


In addition to learning about whisky making; during the tour, you can also explore and learn more about the founder and the history of the distillery.

Read about the history of Masataka Taketsuru and Nikka Whisky.

Inside the Warehouse

In addition to the Rita House and the former residence of the Taketsurus, the whisky museum exhibits many materials about the history of Masataka & Rita and Nikka Whisky.

At the end of the tour, stop by the Nikka Kaisan to sample some delicious whisky and more. Visitors are given three samples of various alcoholic beverages. For those who are not of age, apple juice and other non-alcoholic drinks are also available. Finish off your tour with a quick visit to the gift shop where Nikka Whisky chocolates, bottles and memorabilia are for sale.

Distillery Shop and Nikka Kaikan
Sample of Super Nikka, Singlemalt Yoichi, and Apple Wine

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Fukidashi Park in Kyogoku, Hokkaido

Fukidashi Park is a park in Kyogoku town, Niseko located in the southwestern part of Sapporo city, and is well-known for tasty spring water. Perfect for a relaxing stroll in the early morning, visit Fukidashi Park and listen to the water gushing from the grounds. 

Built around the cool spring water, the park is constructed with turning paths leading to the source of spring water which flows into two ponds. The water is refreshingly cold that as visitors approach the spring outlets, the temperature drops to create a naturally air-conditioned area.

Experience Niseko

Fukidashi means “Gushing out” in Japanese.

Fukidashi Park (ふきだし公園)

How to get to Fukidashi Park

Fukidashi Park is adjacent to road station “Meisui-no-Sato Kyogoku (名水の郷きょうごく)”. It is about 15 minutes on foot from Kyogoku Bus Terminal. If you’re driving from Sapporo, it is a 90 minutes drive.

Admission is free. The parking lots are also free of charge.

Fukidashi Park

Meisui Plaza, Fukidashi Garden, shops, Cafe Cafe-mocha, gazebos, BBQ House, 33 statues of Goddess of Mercy, public restrooms and parking lots on the site. Meisui Coffee and Meisui Coffee Jelly are also popular there. In addition, Kyogoku Onsen, Isshinan, a convenience store, Three-you-park Park Golf Course, and a camping ground are built near the Fukidashi park, too.

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View Lake Toya from Silo Observatory

One of Hokkaido’s leading photography spots – Shikotsu Toya National Park Silo Observatory is an observation deck on the west bank of Lake Toya. It is a great place to have a superb, large panoramic view of Lake Toya as well as Nakajima Island, Mt. Usu, Mt. Showa Shinzan, Toyako town, and Nishiyama Crater.

The silo observatory is full of souvenir of Hokkaido. The Hokkaido souvenir shop is on the first floor. The famous confectionary of Toyako is Wakasaimo. Bokka’s dairy products are also available. The yoghurt is very tasty and rich. Shiroikoibito, Royce, seaweed, Ramen, and woodcraft are also sold there.

The second floor viewing restaurant is large with 216 seats and has many customers from group tours. You can eat Hokkaido’s specialty cuisine. There are Ishikarinabe, Teppanyaki and Hokkaido style BBQ.

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Showa Shinzan Volcano in Hokkaido Japan

Shōwa-shinzan is one of Japan’s youngest mountains and is also a volcanic lava dome in the Shikotsu-Toya National Park, Hokkaido, Japan, next to Mount Usu. The peak is 398 m (1,306 ft) tall, and still actively smoking.

Shōwa-shinzan, 昭和新山, Shōwa-shinzan

The name Shōwa-shinzan means “Shōwa new mountain”

Getting to Showa Shinzan

Showa Shinzan stands next to the lower station of the Usuzan Ropeway. From Toyako Onsen, it can be reached in 10 minutes by car or taxi (about 2000 yen one way) or in 15 minutes by bus from Toyako Onsen (15 minutes, 350 yen one way, one bus every two hours).

Showa Shinzan

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One Night at Lake Toya with Fireworks Festival

Lake Toya is located southwest of Sapporo and New Chitose Airport, between Niseko (one of Hokkaido’s finest powder snow ski resort areas) and the Pacific Ocean.

Lake Tōya is a volcanic caldera lake in Shikotsu-Toya National Park, Abuta District, Hokkaidō, Japan.  The lake is nearly circular, being 10 kilometers in diameter from east–west and 9 kilometers from north–south. It has an area of 70.7 km2 and shore length of 46 km.

Lake Tōya (洞爺湖, Tōya-ko)

How to get to Lake Toya

From Tokyo, you can reach Lake Toya by flying to Chitose City’s New Chitose Airport, and then jumping on a local train from there. You can also ride the shinkansen all the way from Tokyo, a journey completely covered by the JR Rail Pass.

If you’re coming by car, it is:

  • about 2 hours from Sapporo
  • about 1 hour and a half from New Chitose Airport
  • about 2 hours and 15 minutes from Hakodate

Coming from Sapporo, we took the train from JR Sapporo station down to Toya station. It was a 1 hour and 52 minutes, or 163km train ride.

Toya Station

From Toya station to Lake Toya, it was another 15 minutes bus ride. The bus stopped at Toyako Onsen bus terminal, where we continued on foot (4 minutes or 300 meters) to our hotel – Toya Kanko Hotel.

Toya Kanko Hotel is in Toyako Onsen, which is at the foot of Mount Usu is where you will find most of the area’s hotels and shops, a visitor center, the sightseeing boat pier and the bus terminal.

Lake Toya

We took a walk along the lake side.

Toyakoguruttochokoru Park

Tea Break at Wakasaimo

Japanese Confectionary Shop

Toya Kanko Hotel

Toya Kanko Hotel offers elegant rooms. The hotel comprises 131 rooms. WiFi throughout the accommodation is available. Some rooms offer a heating system, a safe box and a wardrobe with views of the mountain. A tub, a hairdryer and free toiletries are featured.

At レストラン「湖畔」 restaurant all guests are invited to enjoy Japanese cuisine. The outdoor bar is a nice spot for relaxation. Boyotei and Sobakura are situated about 200 meters from the venue. A private pool is featured onsite. Toya Kanko Hotel offers sport activities, such as tennis and table tennis.

Japanese Style Room
Japanese Style Room
Yukata (Japanese Pajamas)
Direct view of Lake Toya from hotel room

Private Dinner at Toya Kanko Hotel

Private dinner of pork, cooked seafood, fresh raw seafood, desserts, and passion fruit at the hotel.

Lake Toya Fireworks

After dinner, we went back down to the lake to enjoy the fireworks.

The Lake Toya Long Run Fireworks Festival is a 187-day-long display that runs from April 28 to October 31. The skies above Lake Toya are lit up fireworks every night from about 20:45PM – 21:45PM.

Guests staying at the many lakeside hotels can enjoy the 20 minutes fireworks display from the comfort of their rooms or the open-air onsen baths. A special fireworks-viewing boat service is available for those romantics among you who want to make the evening even more special.

Of course it’s free of charge along the lake. But to view it from the boat; the fare for the fireworks viewing boat is ¥1,600 for adults and ¥800 for children.

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Japanese Soup Curry Garaku

It was a cold and wet autumn night. We were craving for something hot and spicy. We had soup curry as planned at Soup Curry Garaku in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan.

Where is Soup Curry Garaku?

The restaurant is located below ground, so we walked downstairs.

Address: 〒060-0063 Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo Ward, Minami 2 Jonishi, 2 Chome−6−1 おくむらビルB1.

How to Get to Soup Curry Garaku

It is approximately:

  • 170 meters from Odori Station
  • 200 meters from Pole Town
  • 400-450 meters from Susukino Station
  • 450 meters from Hosuisusukino Station
  • 260 meters from Tanuki Koji tram line

Soup Curry Garaku

Let’s check out the menu. They’ve different types of soup curry dishes with chicken, shabushabu, pork, vegetable, sausage, mushroom, or lamb.

Then, select the amount of rice and the level of hotness. Rice comes in small (100g), middle (200g), or large (350g) amounts. The hotness level range from mild to standard to hot to very hot to ex hot to fire!!! You can also add on “toppings” with the curry, at additional charges.

To savour the curry in the comfort of your own home, you can also buy their soup curry powder mix.

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Sakaimachi Street: Private Walking Tour in Otaru

Attractive Street in the City Center of Otaru

Sakaimachi Street is an attractive, preserved merchant street in central Otaru, a short walk from Otaru Canal.

Sakaimachi Street is about 900 meters in length. It is here you can find souvenir shops, museums, restaurants, historical buildings, and landmarks. Many of these restaurants and stores are in these historical buildings, many being converted from old warehouses. So, not only can you do some shopping and dining, but you can also get some great photos while on your travels.

Sakaimachi Street (境町通り, Sakaimachi Dōri)

Where is Sakaimachi Street

Sakaimachi Street is a ten minute walk from Otaru Station or a five minute walk from Minami-Otaru Station. Alternatively, two of the four Otaru Stroller’s tourist bus lines pass along the street, providing frequent connections with Otaru Station.

The north entrance of Sakaimachi Street is near the Bank of Japan Otaru Museum and around the south end of Otaru Canal.

The south entrance is a five-street intersection, and it is called Meruhen-Kôsaten. Formally, this intersection is “Sakaimachi Intersection”.

“Meruhen” is a German word “Märchen” and means “fairy tale”. “Kôsaten” means “intersection”.

Walk with us on this private walking tour

1. Otaru Denuki-Koji

Quaint alleyway with a retro feel, lined with restaurants and food stalls serving ramen and yakitori. There are around 20 small shops in the historical building.

Address: 1 Chome-1 Ironai, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0031, Japan
Address: 〒047-0031 北海道小樽市色内1丁目1

If you are looking for a great view of Otaru Canal, there is a free observation deck upstairs. It is little narrow to climb up the tower, but Otaru Canal and the ocean is in front of your eyes. Enjoy 360-degree panoramic views from the observation deck!

2. Seafood Restaurant Donburi Chaya

Donburi Chaya is a seafood rice bowl specialty restaurant, which originated from the Nijyo seafood market.

Address: 3-24 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0027, Japan
Address: 〒047-0027 北海道小樽市堺町3−24

Muslim Friendly Menu @ Seafood Restaurant Donburi Chaya

3. Crepe Plus – RE di ROMA Otaru

Address: 3-18 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0027, Japan
Address: 〒047-0027 北海道小樽市堺町3−18

Crepe Plus – RE di ROMA Otaru

4. 抹茶スイーツ処 茶和々 小樽店

A building cannot get anymore maccha than this! Dubbed the Green Tea Matcha Building.

Address: 4-14 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0027, Japan
Address: 〒047-0027 北海道小樽市堺町4−14

Japanese Maccha Sweets (The GreenTeaMatcha Building)

5. Venetian Cafeteria

Take a break with a rainbow tower ice cream. My rainbow ice cream had 7 layers of a variety of tastes: Grape, Strawberry, Powdered Green Tea, Melon, Chocolate, Milk, and Lavendar.

Rainbow Tower Ice Cream Menu @ Venetian Cafeteria

6. LeTAO Pathos

On the 1st floor is a confectionary where they offer their popular products, including Double Fromage. There is a takeout corner where you can eat their limited edition “Hokkaido Jersey Milk Pudding” made with Hokkaido Jersey milk and LeTAO’s original fresh cream. On the 2nd floor is a cafe where you can enjoy original cakes only from PATHOS as well as plates of pasta.

Pathos is the Greek word for “passion” and it’s logo mark of the sun expresses that meaning as well.

Address: 5-22 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0027, Japan
Address: 〒047-0027 北海道小樽市堺町5−22

LeTAO Pathos

7. Snoopy Cha-Ya

All-things Snoopy!

Address: 6-4 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0027, Japan
Address: 〒047-0027 北海道小樽市堺町6−4

8. Kitaichi Glass Crystal Shop and Kitakaro

Kitaichi Glass Crystal Shop
Set of shops selling items made from glass, such as decorative snow globes & kerosene lamps.
Address: 7-26 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0027, Japan
Address: 〒047-0027 北海道小樽市堺町7−26

Address: 7-22 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0027, Japan
Address: 〒047-0027 北海道小樽市堺町7−22

9. Fromage Danish Dani LeTAO

Stop for a coffee break here.

Address: 6-6番13号 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0027, Japan
Address: 〒047-0027 北海道小樽市堺町6−6番13号

10. Otaru Music Box Museum

Our private walking tour along Sakaimachi Street ends here. Otaru Music Box Museum is a specialty retailer featuring artisanal tabletop music boxes in many styles with ornate decorations.

On June 25,1994, the world’s largest and second ever steam clock was installed in front of Otaru Music Box Museum is a popular music box museum in the Otaru Orgel-do II building in Otaru, Japan. It includes various examples of music boxes as well as CDs that have music box-esque versions of various songs.

Otaru Music Box Museum (小樽オルゴール堂)

The British-style bronze clock measures 5.5 meters high and weighs 1.5 tons. It was assembled by Mr. Raymond Sanders, who also made the first steam clock located in Gastown, Vancouver, Canada.

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Otaru Canal in Hokkaido, Japan

Beautiful Canal Lined with Old Warehouses

‘Otaru’ is one of the leading tourist spots in Hokkaido with high popularity, and its symbol is the Otaru Canal. But what’s so special about the Otaru Canal? And how much tourism time should you set aside for it?

Otaru Canal, 小樽運河, Otaru Unga

Otaru Canal was a central part of the city’s busy port in the first half of the 20th century. Large vessels were unloaded by smaller ships, which then transported the goods to warehouses along the canal.

The canal became obsolete when modern dock facilities allowed for direct unloading of larger vessels. Thanks to a citizens’ movement, a part of the canal was beautifully restored in the 1980s instead of being landfilled, while the warehouses were transformed into museums, shops and restaurants.

The Otaru Canal is a ten minute walk or a two minute bus ride down the main road from Otaru JR Station.

The canal is about 1.1km long, so it makes for a pleasant stroll during the day on the promenade, when artists present their works to passing tourists, and during the evenings when old fashioned gas lamps are lit and provide a romantic atmosphere.

We started our stroll from one bridge to another. From the bridges, you’ve a beautiful view the warehouses, the canal, and the promenade. The 2 bridges are the Chuo Bridge and Asakusa Bridge.

View of Otaru Canal from Chuo Bridge
View of Otaru Canal from Asakusa Bridge
We visited Otaru Canal in the cool 14.1*C autumn season.

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Sankaku Market in Otaru, Japan

You can’t give Sankaku Market a miss when you visit Otaru in Hokkaido. It is a down-to-earth marketplace with vendors selling fruits, veggies, seafood, and prepared seafood dishes in this wet market.

Otaru Station

Where is Sankaku Market

It is the closest tourist attraction (200 meters or about 2 minutes walk) to Otaru JR station. After exiting the station, turn left and walk up the stairs to the covered wet market.

Sankaku market is a short 200 meters and small fresh market. There are many seafood stalls and restaurants in the alley. The seafood stalls sell:

  • Raw salmon
  • King crab leg
  • Arabesque greenling
  • Atka mackerel
  • Surf clam
  • Oyster
  • Neptunea Arthritica
  • Ezo Neptune Whelk Winkle
  • More

Eat in Sankaku Market

There are a few restaurants in the market. In one of the restaurants, you can grab a crab and they’ll cook it for you on the spot!

Don’t forget Ajidokoro Taekda and Kita no Donburiya Takinami Shokudo in the middle of Sankaku market.

Kita no Donburiya Takinami Shokudo (滝波食堂)

Kita no Donburiya Takinami Shokudo (滝波食堂)
3 Chome-10-16 Inaho,
Otaru, Hokkaido 047-0032

Operating Hours:

8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Takinami Shokudo Menu

You can choose from a pre-made seafood rice bowl:

  • Plenty of salmon roe bowl
  • Salmon roe bowl
  • TokuSakari crab bowl
  • Takinami bowl
  • Special market rice bowl
  • Bafun’uni bowl
  • Bafun’uni, salmon roe bowl
  • Red sea urchin, white sea urchin bowl
  • Sea urchin bowl

Alternatively, you can also create your own seafood rice bowl.

  1. Choose rice bowl size: small or middle size
  2. Choose 3 to 4 combinations out of 10 preferred toppings. Toppings are:
    1. Salmon roe
    2. Sea urchin
    3. Crab
    4. Tuna
    5. Botan shrimp
    6. Sweet shrimp
    7. Salmon
    8. Live scallop
    9. Flying squid
    10. Seasonal food

I created my own bowl and ate seafood rice bowl of sea urchin, crab, tuna, Botan shrimp, salmon eggs, salmon, live scallop for dinner at Takinami Shokudo.

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