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The 12 BEST Things to Do in Otaru, Japan (2024 Edition)

The 12 BEST Things to Do in Otaru, Japan (2024 Edition)

Here’s our list of the best things to do in Otaru, Japan! Even though it’s not the most popular place in the country for foreigners, you’ll be amazed at what to do in Otaru!

There are plenty of awesome activities in Otaru!

The city is one of the most popular destinations for local Japanese tourists. And as international tourism to Japan grows it is likely to become increasingly popular among travellers.

Otaru is full of things to see and do and plenty of places to gorge on some of Hokkaido’s finest food.

The city rose to prominence as a major herring centre. Many of these mills, warehouses, and factories that grew out of the fishing industry are still there today, mainly clustered around the Otaru canal area.

Historically Otaru station was the terminal station of Hokkaido’s first railway in 1880. At this time it was the financial centre of Hokkaido.

Since the 1950’s the coal and herring industries began to decline so the economic centre of Hokkaido moved from Otaru to Sapporo. 

Nowadays Otaru is famous for its food, music boxes and any kind of Kitaichi glass object.

This feat, combined with a fascinating history and picturesque location, is why it is not hard to find so many things to do in Otaru.

READ MORE: Check out our complete list of the best places to visit in Japan!

Here’s Our List of the Best Things to Do in Otaru, Japan!

One of the best things about the city is its size; small and compact. This means that most things are centrally located and it’s pretty easy to navigate! 

The JR Otaru Station is well connected to places around the city if you need to take a day trip as well.

Within the city center, you can check out interesting landmarks like the Otaru Music Box Museum, the Otaru Aquarium, or stroll around Otaru Harbor.

Whether you are just for the day or you want to stay a couple of nights check these awesome things to do in Otaru!

1) Otaru Canal

Easily one of the best things to do in Otaru is strolling along the Otaru Canal.

Back in the days when the herring industry was thriving and the city was a major financial centre, Otaru Canal was the artery that kept the city functioning.

However, after the herring industry collapsed and trade moved to the Otaru port its importance from a trade standpoint was nullified. 

Now there are numerous cafes and coffee shops along Otaru Canal as well as the option to take a boat ride through the canal.

Along Otaru Canal, there are numerous old buildings, a tip of the hat to…

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