Sail along the beautifully preserved canal and interesting herring mansions of Otaru
Just about half an hour northwest of Sapporo by train, Otaru is a pleasant day trip destination for local residents and tourists alike. Developed as “the sea entrance of Hokkaido” over the last 100 years, this historic port city of Japan is best known for its long canal system which was once busy with smaller ships transporting the goods throughout the city. The canal area is now beautifully preserved with may old stone-built or brick-built warehouses, giving it a special character reminiscent of past decades. Within a short walk from here, visitors can explore the charming merchant street of Sakaimachi with impressive Western style buildings, many of which have been converted into restaurants, boutique shops and museums, such as Music Box Museum, Museum of Venetian Art, and Glass Workshops. About five kilometers outside of the city center, you will see another highlight of Otaru, the large preserved Herring Mansion (Nishin Goten) standing on a hill. This mansion was built by wealthy fishermen during the heyday of herring fishing in Otaru, and today is open to the public displaying fishermen's tools and living conditions.