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Overview Of The Port Of Otaru

About Otaru
Otaru is a city and port in Shiribeshi, Hokkaido, Japan in East Asia.

Otaru canal was a central part of the city's busy port in the first half of the 20th century. The canal became obsolete when modern dock facilities allowed for direct unloading of larger vessels. Part of the canal has been beautifully restored and the warehouses transformed into museums, shops and restaurants.

The Otaru City Museum is made up of two separate museums: a history museum beside Otaru Canal and a railway museum on the grounds of a railway yard. The Canal Building is located within the city's main tourist area and covers the history and nature of Otaru.

The Railway Museum has many full size trains from various periods exhibited on a rail yard, while the history of Otaru's railroads, an essential chapter in the city's development, is explained inside the building.

Sakaimachi Street is an attractive, preserved merchant street in central Otaru, a short walk from the city's canal area. Many of the buildings have been converted into restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops, boutiques and museums. Sake, woodwork, Kokeshi dolls, embroidery, lacquerware and ceramics all make good gift ideas.

The Music Box Museum consists of multiple buildings scattered around the southern end of Sakaimachi Street, one of which houses a small museum about music boxes. The most prominent building, however, is a large shop with a wide variety of music boxes on sale. In front of the building stands a steam clock, a present by the city of Vancouver.

When the herring fishing industry declined in the 1950s, the makers of glass buoys shifted to the production of refined glassware instead. In addition to selling Otaru glassware, many shops allow customers to make their own cups, bowls or vases.

The five storey Museum of Venetian Art is dedicated to the arts of Venice. Inside visitors will find displays of Venetian glassware, clothing and furniture, as well as a full sized gondola.

The herring fishing industry played a major role in the history of Otaru, large Herring Mansions were built by wealthy fishermen to process the fish and as a residence for themselves and their employees. A large preserved herring mansion dating back to the end of the 19th century stands on a hill beside the water about 5km outside central Otaru. It was moved to its current located in 1958 and is open to the public. Fishermen's tools and living conditions are displayed inside.

Nikka Whisky, one of Japan's top whisky makers, has its main distillery in Yoichi, the neighbouring town of Otaru. A self guided walking tour of the grounds takes about an hour and follows the whisky making process from start to finish. Visitors can learn about the different steps taken to produce whisky from English information displays and audio guides. Some of the equipment along the tour, such as the large copper distillation tanks, is still used today. There is also a museum, tasting room, shop and restaurant.

The Otaru Snow Light Path Festival is a winter festival held every February, during which the city is decorated in lights and small snow statues for ten days. The two main areas lit up are Unga Kaijo area and the Temiyasen Kaijo area. Many locals also put lantern displays in front of their shops and residences, which further adds to the festival spirit.

Popular dishes include fresh fish and seafood, sushi, 'ramen' (noodle dish) and 'tempura' (fish or vegetables in batter).
Cruise Terminal
Cruise ships dock at the Port of Otaru, which is 5 minutes drive from the train station.

If you don't speak Japanese, it is advisable to have a written address of your destination as addresses can be confusing, even for taxi drivers. (Note: Taxi left rear doors are closed automatically by the driver).
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