Hokkaido Itinerary: A Day Trip to the Charming Otaru

Written by Katherine

February 7, 2013
Last Updated on March 5, 2024

Our itinerary for our third day in Hokkaido is yet another day tour with Hokkaido Experience. And this time, we went to the charming city of Otaru~! Let’s find out what we did in Otaru and why I think you should definitely have it in your Hokkaido itinerary! \(★ω★)/

UPDATE (2023): I just checked the Hokkaido Experience website on the itinerary for our Sapporo and Otaru day tours. However, in the process, I was redirected to their Japanese website. I am not sure if they still have English-speaking guides, so you could try emailing them to find out.


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A Quick Recap of Our Hokkaido Itinerary

It was our first time in Hokkaido, and we decided to book day tours with Hokkaido Experience due to their superb service standard. We did a bit of free and easy on our first day in Hokkaido. On our second day here, we did a Sapporo day tour with our lovely English-speaking guide, Hiromi Makino-san.

We were given a few options as to what we could do in Hokkaido when we liaised with Hokkaido Experience through email. We eventually picked Otaru as the next city to visit on our third day in Hokkaido, as it was only a 40-minute train ride from Sapporo, where we were staying.

It’s Time to Start our Otaru Day Tour!

Our Otaru itinerary, based on what was on Hokkaido Experience’s website, included visits to the Music Box Museum, glassware shops and other major attractions. Our guide for the day was Nobuko Iwasaki-san, who was a translator working in Hokkaido~! And that also means that she had amazing English to converse with as well. (❤ω❤)

Nobuko-san met us at our hotel lobby before we headed off to the JR Sapporo station to take a JR train to Otaru to kick-start our itinerary. Once we reached there, the vibe was totally different from Sapporo. In comparison, Otaru felt so much more peaceful. We were there on a weekday, so not sure if that contributes to the peacefulness of Otaru.

It was yet another wonderful weather for us to start our walk around Otaru~! Our first stop in Otaru was a sake shop! It was good to have a guide with us, as Nobuko-san acted as the bridge between us and the shopkeeper. We even got to try some sake on the house! The map below shows the route that we took in the order that we visited them. (´ ω `♡)

First Stop of Our Otaru Itinerary: Otaru Canal

The Otaru Canal was built in the early 20th century and was a major port for trade in Otaru. The canal is now one of the most popular attractions in Otaru due to its charming old buildings, cafes and shops.

A view of Otaru Canal, the first stop of our Otaru itinerary

When we were there, we spotted artists drawing caricatures or selling their wares by the canal. I also especially love the preserved look of the warehouses, giving Otaru Canal its charm. I think it would be even more beautiful if you visited during winter with snow on the warehouse roofs. (´ ε ` )♡

The shophouses lining the Otaru canal, the first stop of our Otaru itinerary

Second Stop: Otaru Denuki Koji

After some photo-taking and marvelling at the Otaru Canal, we made our way to our next stop, Otaru Denuki Koji. Otaru Denuki Koji is a narrow street known for its historic buildings, shops, and restaurants. Since it was still early, a lot of the shops and restaurants were closed. We just took a quick walk around before moving on to our next destination.

Some decorations taken at Otaru Denuki Koji, the second stop of our Otaru itinerary

Third Stop: Kamaei Fish Cake Factory

For our next stop, Nobuko-san brought us to Kamaei, a well-known fish cake factory in Otaru. The factory produces a wide variety of fish cakes using locally sourced ingredients. We could even watch the production process through the glass windows set up in the factory! We also bought some of their fried fish cake to re-energise ourselves from all the walking. (´• ω •`)

The signage and a view of the factory workers at the Kamaei Fish Cake factory, the third stop of our Otaru itinerary

Fourth Stop: Otaru Sakaimachi-dori

After filling our bellies with delicious fish cakes, we walked down to Otaru Sakaimachi-dori. This street is known for its beautifully preserved Meiji-era buildings.

A wedding couple taking photos at Otaru Sakaimachi-dori, the fourth stop of our Otaru itinerary

Nobuko-san brought us to Kitachi Glass Otaru, a glass-making workshop and gallery located on Otaru Sakaimachi-dori. Since Otaru is known for its glassware, there are a lot of glassware shops lining the street. As we observed the glass-making process at Kitachi Glass Otaru, I was tempted to buy some of their glass accessories as they were so beautiful! ٩(× ×)۶

A view of artists working on glass-making works at the Kitachi Glass Otaru, the fourth stop of our Otaru itinerary

A Break from Our Otaru Itinerary: Lunch at Fujisushi Otaru

After the visit to Kitachi Glass Otaru, it was time for lunch~! We asked Nobuko-san for her recommendation, and she recommended Fujisushi Otaru. The restaurant is known for its reasonably-price Japanese food. Trusting the words of a local, we decided to try it out, and the meal was indeed good! ( ´ ω ` )

Our lunch at Fujisushi Otaru, a break from our Otaru itinerary

Fifth Stop: Otaru Music Box Museum

After the satisfying lunch, it was time to visit Otaru Music Box Museum! The museum features a collection of music boxes as well as mechanical instruments and antique toys. Since the museum spanned across a few buildings, Nobuko-san brought us to Hall 2, which has a collection of antique music boxes and organs.

The exterior of the Otaru Music Box Museum and the music boxes display inside the museum, the fifth stop of our Otaru itinerary

A Japanese guide would be there to explain to visitors the history of the music boxes. Luckily for us, we had Nobuko-san translate everything into English for us! As we walked through Hall 2, the guide would also play the music boxes for everyone. It was interesting to see that a lot of the music boxes have different ways of being operated. The final piece in Hall 2 was the Aeolian Pipe Organ, which is also the centre of attraction in Hall 2. I highly recommend visiting Hall 2 of the Otaru Music Box Museum if you only have time for one hall! \(★ω★)/

The unique music boxes in the Otaru Music Box Museum, the fifth part of our Otaru itinerary

After the visit to Hall 2, we went into the shopping area of the museum. There was a lot of variety of music boxes, and you could even make a one-of-a-kind music box for yourself! (❤ω❤) Since Christmas was in one month’s time, there were a lot of Christmas decorations around the shop. We got ourselves a lovely Christmas-themed music box and another as a wedding gift for our buddies. ( ´ ω ` )

A view of the shopping area of the museum, the fifth part of our Otaru itinerary

Final Stop of Our Otaru Itinerary: Delicious Otaru Sweets Shops

With the Otaru Music Box Museum as our final sightseeing stop, it was finally time to bring us to the last stop of the day tour, Otaru sweets shops! There were so many sweets shops lining Otaru Sakaimachi-dori. and I think we went a bit crazy buying the desserts. Haha! I love the cake from LeTAO, and I daresay it is my favourite dessert from Japan. But sadly, we cannot bring the cheesecake back to Singapore since it could only last a few days. And we had a few more days in Japan. (´-ω-`)

Also, fun fact from Nobuko-san about the origin of LeTao. Do you know that LeTAO came from syllables of the town’s name said in reverse – Ru-ta-o? We were kind of wow-ed by how the name came about. (´・ᴗ・ ` )

Note: If you are in Singapore reading this and want to know how good the LeTAO cakes are, there is now a LeTAO branch in Singapore! Go get yourself a LeTAO cake and enjoy the luxurious cheesecake experience!

Overall Experience of Our Otaru Itinerary

We had an absolutely enjoyable experience with Nobuko-san. Once again, I highly recommend Hokkaido Experience for planning your itinerary. Both guides that we had were amazing, and we learned so much from both of them. There are still so many things and places in Hokkaido that we have yet to experience. I hope that we will be back to explore Hokkaido again, maybe during winter, so that I can check out the annual Snow Festival! Except that, I do need tips on how to stay warm in the cold winter of Hokkaido. Haha!

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💰 BEST Cards to Use for Your Overseas Spending

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  1. June

    Hi, I’ve chanced upon your blog while researching for my trip to Hokkaido. I’m not planning on hiring a guide and was wondering if you walked from one place of interest to another in Otaru? Thanks!

    • shan

      Hi June,

      Thanks for dropping by my blog! 🙂
      And yes, we walked from one point of interest to another in Otaru. I remembered our tour guide giving us a simple guide phamplet to refer to as well so maybe you can find that to help bring you around Otaru! 🙂

      Enjoy your trip to Hokkaido!


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