Otaru Canal in Hokkaido, Japan

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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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