Wall Street of the North
The nickname of Otaru may seem exaggerated, but this small city on the outskirts of Sapporo also experienced its heyday. Even today, the city retains traces of its glorious past.
To go to Otaru, you have to take the oldest train line in Hokkaido. A coastal route that follows the shore of the Bay of Ishikari where Otaru is located. A nice introduction, in a beautiful landscape on the Sea of Japan, just across from Russia.
A glorious past
Otaru was in the past the gateway to Hokkaido, where American, British and Russian sailors negotiated - hence its nickname "Wall Street of the North". What remains today are the streets lining the Otaru Canal, and old stone warehouses now converted into restaurants, shops and hotels along Sakaimachi street. These streets, adorned with Victorian lamps, are the main attraction of the city.
With its streets, canals, and hills topped by ancient wooden houses, Otaru relies heavily on the atmosphere of the early twentieth century. An elegant fragrance and sweet nostalgia for its illustrious past lingers in the city.
Today, Otaru is best known throughout Japan for its high quality sushi (especially uni, sea urchin) and its expensive spider crab. The city is also known for Otaru Beer, produced its own brewery and very popular. In winter, the city also has ski slopes overlooking the bay - it's unusual to ski while contemplating the sea...
The city is a nice day trip from Sapporo.