9 Exotic Sightseeing Spots in Otaru That You Can’t Miss

The streets of Otaru have an exotic air about them. Whether it's buildings from a bygone era or the remains of an old canal, Otaru boasts of sightseeing spots that are popular even with Japanese people. Over 7 million domestic and foreign tourists visit Otaru each year. It's easily accessible via Sapporo as well, so it's a recommended tourist destination for many.

Check out our writers’ top Japan travel ideas!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy through them, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

1. Otaru Canal


Mith Huang/Flickr

This canal was completed in 1923, and is one of the spots that best represents Otaru. The canal was designed such that goods could be unloaded from ships directly into warehouses. At 1,140m long, the canal is lit by gas lights along the banks, and with the warehouses lit up as well, it looks like a scene from a dream. In February, the Otaru Snow Light Path event takes place. Lighted candles float in the canal, making it appear even more beautiful than usual.

HP: www.city.otaru.lg.jp.e.go.hp.transer.com/kankou/miru_asobu_tomaru/kankosisetu/otaruunga.html (English)

HP: www.city.otaru.lg.jp.c.go.hp.transer.com/kankou/miru_asobu_tomaru/kankosisetu/otaruunga.html (Simplified Chinese)

HP: www.city.otaru.lg.jp/kankou/miru_asobu_tomaru/kankosisetu/otaruunga.html (Japanese)

Address: Minato-machi, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido 北海道小樽市港町 (Google Map)

2. Bank of Japan Otaru Museum


663highland/Wikipedia commons

During the early Showa era (1926 – 1989), Otaru was a thriving financial hub, and was even called the Wall Street of the North. This building was the Otaru branch of the Bank of Japan back in the day, and it is now a tourist attraction where various exhibits are housed. The thick walls and sturdy building portrays a sense of history.

HP: www.city.otaru.lg.jp.e.go.hp.transer.com/simin/gakushu_sports/bunkazai_isan/bunkazai/yusen.html (English)

HP: www.city.otaru.lg.jp.c.go.hp.transer.com/simin/gakushu_sports/bunkazai_isan/bunkazai/yusen.html (Simplified Chinese)

HP: www.city.otaru.lg.jp/simin/gakushu_sports/bunkazai_isan/bunkazai/yusen.html (Japanese)

Address: 1-11-16 Ironai, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido 北海道小樽市色内1-11-16 (Google Map)

3. Otaru Music Box Museum - Hall Number 2 Antique Museum

This museum houses a collection of rare Karakuri dolls (traditional Japanese mechanized puppets) that you literally won’t be able to find anywhere else. You'll also be able to see antique music boxes. The pipe organ lined up against the wall was the very first self-playing pipe organ in Japan. Otaru is well-known in Japan for its music boxes, and this museum is the most famous place to take a close look at them!

HP: www.otaru-orgel.co.jp/english/e_index.html (English)

HP: www.otaru-orgel.co.jp/traditional_chinese/ch_index.html (Simplified Chinese)

HP: www.otaru-orgel.co.jp/j_antique.html (Japanese)

Address: 6-13 Sakai-machi, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido 北海道小樽市堺町6-13 (Google Map)

4. Mt. Tengu


To the southwest of Otaru stands Mt. Tengu (Tengu-yama) at a height of 532m. It's particularly lively in the winter due to the skiers who visit. It's also well-known for being a spot with great views all year round. In fact, the view from Mt. Tengu is known as one of the top 3 night views in all of Hokkaido! You can get to the peak via the ropeway service, and there's a ski museum, as well as a Tengu statue and hall, that you can visit. Tengu are mythical creatures that are said to be able to grant your wishes, so why not visit and make a wish?

HP: tenguyama.ckk.chuo-bus.co.jp/en/ (English)

HP: tenguyama.ckk.chuo-bus.co.jp/tw/ (Traditional Chinese)

HP: www.ckk.chuo-bus.co.jp/tenguyama/ (Japanese)

Address: Top of Tenguyama, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido 北海道小樽市天狗山山頂 (Google Map)

5. Tanaka Shuzo Kikkogura

This is the famous place where Otaru's local sake (Japanese rice wine), Takaragawa, is made. At this stone warehouse that was built during the Meiji era (1868 – 1912), you can taste 10 different kinds of sake for free, and also tour the warehouse to see how sake is made. The tour timings vary depending on the season, but it's a great place for foreign sake fans to visit!

HP: www.tanakashuzo.com (Japanese Only)

Address: 2-2 Nobuka-cho, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido 北海道小樽市信香町2-2 (Google Map)

6. Otaru Kihinkan

Once the residence of the Aoyama family, this building is also known as the Old Aoyama Villa. The Aoyama family made a fortune during the Meiji era and Taisho era (1868 – 1926) through the herring fishing business. Built on a large site of roughly 1,500 Tsubo (approximately 5,000m²), this two-story wooden building is a historic building that's also known as the Artistic Villa in the North. There are 18 rooms inside the villa, each with their own decor. There's a restaurant inside the villa serving herring dishes, so you can enjoy good food while gazing out at the scenery from within the Japanese-style room.

HP: www.otaru-kihinkan.jp/ (Japanese Only)

Address: 3-63 Shukutsu, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido 北海道小樽市祝津3-63 (Google Map)

7. Nataru Market (Nantaru Ichiba)

At this market, you'll be able to see all kinds of fresh seasonal ingredients gathered in one place, making it an extremely popular spot for savoring fresh seafood and other produce. Since you'll be able to taste Hokkaido at its freshest here, this is a recommended spot for those who love seafood!

HP: www.nantaruichiba.or.jp/ (Japanese Only)

Address: 2F Shinei Danchi Nantaru Ichiba, 12-1 Shin-Tomicho, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido  北海道小樽市新富町12-1 真栄団地南樽市場 2F (Google Map)

8. Kitaichi Glass 3rd Building

Otaru is also well-known in Japan for its glassware, like crockery and accessories. Kitaichi Glass 3rd Building used to be a place where glass oil lamps were made. Following its name, the building continues to be decorated with many glass lamps, creating a special atmosphere. Kitaichi Glass has many branches throughout Otaru, but this particular one has been designated as a historical landmark. It's a great place to shop for glassware! There's a good variety of handmade glassware that's representative of Otaru. The faceted glass and items with playful designs are very popular. Do drop by and pick up a souvenir or two!

HP: www.kitaichiglass.co.jp/shop/kitaichihall.html (Japanese Only)

Address: 7-26 Sakai-machi, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido 北海道小樽市堺町7-26 (Google Map)

9. Otaru Spring Festival

The Otaru Spring Festival (Otaru Haru Matsuri) takes place at the end of May. A stage is set up in the Hanazono Ginza Shopping Street (Hanazono Ginza Shotengai), and the residents, students, merchants, enterprises, and administration staff all come together at the city’s 7 shopping districts to host this big and lively festival. It's also famous for the 3-day all-you-can-eat event that happens at 3 selected restaurants. Dance events, Yosakoi (Japanese festival dance), karaoke contests, and more are also held during the festival. It’s bound to leave some great memories, so be sure to attend!

Address: At shopping streets located at the center of Otaru-shi 小樽市内中心商店街 (Google Map)

Hokkaido Feature
Rent the car you want at the price you want. Rental Cars. Perfect if you're looking to rent a car in Japan! Learn more.

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

tsunagu Japan Newsletter

Subscribe to our free newsletter and we'll show you the best Japan has to offer!

Subscribe Now!

About the author

  • Check out our writers’ top Japan travel ideas!

Restaurant Search

Sign up to our free newsletter to discover the best Japan has to offer.