The Official Hokkaido Adventure Travel Guide


A City of History and Culture Surrounded by Sea and Mountains

Otaru once prospered from herring fishing. It developed as a commercial city of the north through "Kitamae-bune" merchant ships that connected Hokkaido with various regions of Japan. The town flourished with the construction of railroads, harbors, and the canal, but declined rapidly after World War II.

The Otaru Canal was reborn to its current form after about 10 years of debate between citizens and the government over the reclamation of the obsolete canal. Since then, Otaru has been revitalized as a tourist city where many buildings and historical heritage sites reminiscent of the past remain scattered throughout the city.

On the other hand, Otaru is also a part of "Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru Kaigan Quasi-National Park" and has enjoyed nature’s blessings with its topography surrounded by mountains on three sides. In the short 150 years of its existence, human activities nurtured Otaru's culture, and the story of Otaru is connected by the sea. Why not experience history, culture, and nature, the Otaru way?

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