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  • Sep18


    September 18, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Our first port of call in Japan was Otaru, a port city on the northwestern coast of the Sea of Japan. It's not as well known or populated as Sapporo, 25 kms to the east, but it is a charming place to visit.

    When we arrived, we had to go through Japanese immigration where we were photographed, fingerprinted and briefly interviewed by the local authorities. With some 2500 passengers to process, some people didn't disembark until almost 11:00AM. Fortunately, we only had to go through that exercise once on the trip. In any case, even the last person to leave the ship would have had plenty of time to visit all the highlights.

    After nine days at sea, it was nice to get back onto solid ground for a few hours. We wandered through the market and visited the music box museum, where they sell boxes ranging in price from about $25.00 CDN to over $10,000.00!!! For that kind of money, you'd best really like the tune it plays.

    Right in front of that museum is a steam clock very similar to the one located in Vancouver's Gastown district. In fact, Otaru's clock was a gift from the city of Vancouver in 1994.

    We strolled along the Otaru Canal, which was built in the first half of the 20th century. At the time, when entering the port, 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. A portion of the canal was restored in the 1980s instead of being landfilled, while the warehouses were transformed into museums, shops and restaurants.

    But what struck us most on our first day in Japan were the eye-poppingly high prices, particularly of produce. At the markets, one can purchase a slice of melon, similar to cantaloupe, for ¥500 or about $6.25. The entire melon was selling for ¥3,000 or almost $37.00 CDN!!! A handful sized bunch of grapes was ¥700 and a beautiful looking peach was ¥550. We vegans would have to come out of retirement to be able to afford to live there.

    We initially thought these prices were so high because the shops and markets are located in a touristy part of town. However, we learned later in our travels that those prices are pretty much the norm. Yikes!

    After seeing and visiting all we wanted to see, we made our way back to the ship and chilled for a while before dinner.

    Although Otaru was very pretty, I think if we pass this way again we'll probably hop on the train to Sapporo, which likely will have a little more to offer.
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  • Day27

    Leaving Otaru

    September 3, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    We pull away from the dock with waves from the local people. The tug slips in behind us and follows us thru the entrance channel. When we are clear of that, the tug pulls alongside and the pilot jumps from the ship to the tug. We sit in brilliant sunshine on the rear deck of the Promenade as Otaru slips into the distance.Read more

  • Day494


    September 12, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 12 °C

    This small town on the coast is famous for its’ seafood, historic stone buildings and a very scenic canal. We really enjoyed our brief time here walking along the canal and a pretty path along the old railway line, drinking local beer and sake, and admiring the beautiful, old buildings that lined the quaint streets and alleys. Glass making is a local specialty and a very good museum highlighted some of the world’s best glass making traditions, including an amazing display of Tiffany glass (which we weren’t allowed to photograph, unfortunately) displayed in an impressive old, stone bank.Read more

    Lucinda Ayers


    Dobbs Away II

    Yep! It was time

  • Day26

    Otaru, Japan

    September 24, 2014 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

    We are so happy to get to Japan! After being on the cruise for so long, we were looking forward to some good Japanese food. We had our first of many real Japanes Ramen to come, and a really really goof fish cake!Read more

  • Day11


    September 14, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    We travelled from Lake Toyako to Otaru today. We found this place called Otaru Asari Classe Hotel, which is located in the hills about 30 mins bus ride from Otaru Station on a bus. This place must be pretty busy in winter for skiing.
    Otaru is a port city and feels very different to Lake Toyako.

    Some pics from Otaru. I liked what someone did with the climber plants.

    Received an email about a job interview today.

    This place where we are staying at has an outside bath. I had a bath outside in the soft rain. So very nice. For dinner Jeff and I ate delicious sushi. I ate sea urchin for the first time ever. It was nice but I still don't understand why it's such a big deal. Jeff had nice sake.

    Day 2 in Otaru. Today we had a 'home day'. We did some laundry, went to a stretch class at the hotel (which was pretty weird), spent some time at the gym, bath and at a restaurant in the hotel. Spent a lazy but a nice day. We both read quite a bit today.
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    So you have ticked sea urchin off the list of things you have never tried. I don't mind sea urchin if good quality, but I like kani miso much more. Oh yum.

  • Day12

    The Famous Otaru Canal

    May 20, 2016 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 16 °C

    Today we took in more of Japan's west coast, we headed up as far as Shakotan and then worked our way back to Otaru which is famous for its canal & glass art. Lots of tunnels along the way and still quite a bit of snow on the peaks. Also still very warm, it was 26 degrees mid afternoon. Janet's elusive search for 'special' Japanese socks has also finally been realised. Tomorrow we move location and our accommodation as we are staying in a Ryokan for Janet's birthday. Will update you WiFi permitting tomorrow.Read more

  • Day16


    March 30, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 3 °C

    Otaru est une ville touristique à 40min environ de Sapporo. Ce port était autrefois appelé le "Wall Street du nord" et comprend en plus de son jolie canal de nombreux établissements bancaire construit dans un style occidental. On y retrouve principalement des magasins de verres, de boîte à musique et des pâtisseries! Nous avons donc déambulé dans les rues par un beau soleil, goûtant des spécialités et récupérant des souvenirs. Nous avons aussi visité une ancienne banque avec une intéressante exposition sur la modernisation du système bancaire au Japon entre 1880 et 1950.Read more

  • Day423


    February 9, 2020 in Japan ⋅ -9 °C

    After this Susukino, we got on a train going to Otaru. The train ride was one of the most beautiful rides in Japan that really reminded me of Spirited Away as our train coasted next to the ocean and the otherside were mountains, it was absolutely enchanting.

    Otaru was already snowing when we got there, we took a bus going to an onsen first. Jesse was already feeling quite tired and I was hoping the onsen would help, and it certainly did as afterwards she regained much of her composure. It was already dark when we got out and we stumbled our way around the dimy lit streets of Otaru, looking for the snow festival. We went inside a shop and asked where it was and were pointed to the right direction. We finally caught sight of the Otaru canals, and on point as we started to see candles. Otaru's snow festival focused a lot on the romanticism of its canals and candle-lit snowladen street beside it. We walked along the path and saw a lot of small snow sculptures with candles inside. This continued all around Otaru but we were also running out of time as our flight was in a few hours. We started to rush back to the station and caught one train going to Sapporo. We rushed to the lockers to get our stuff only to realize we didn't have the keys with us, this caused a lot of panic and some heightened emotions and the guy standing near the lockers just watched it all happen despite knowing having the key in question. Kinda annoying as we missed another train and this set us back a lot of minutes, this made Jesse really anxious but I was still confident we would make it. We got on our train and made it just fine at the airport. I met a guy on the airplane and we talked for a bit while I played Pokemon on my Switch.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Yoichi-gun, よいちぐん

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