With its gorgeous herring ‘palaces’, interesting museums and coastal trails, Otaru’s scenic coastlines make a perfect excursion from the city center.
Location (Shukutsu) 5km north of Otaru Canal
Highlights Old Aoyama Villa, Otaru Aquarium, Otaru Coastal Nature Trail
01 RAILWAY HISTORY
Otaru General Museum
小樽市総合博物館 / Sogo Hakubutsukan Honkan / 1-3-6 Temiya / 9.30am-5pm / Closed Tue / ¥400 / www.city.otaru.lg.jp/simin/sisetu/museum
Located in the old Temiya Station to convey the railway history of Hokkaido, this museum has permanent collection of train models, old tickets and timetables. An open-air exhibition (closed in winter) features classic diesel cars, coaches and steam locomotives.
02 HISTORIC BUILDING
Old Aoyama Villa
旧青山別邸 / 3-63 Shukutsu / 9am-5pm, to 4pm Nov-Mar / Closed 1-7 Jan / ¥1100 / www.otaru-kihinkan.jp
This luxurious Japanese-style villa was built in 1923 by the Aoyamas who has gained great wealth with herring fisheries. Rooms are fill with lavish decoration and household goods, the building is like an art museum.
On-site restaurant Kihinkan (貴賓館) serves nishin-oju (herring lacquered meal box).
Take bus 10 or 11 to Shukutsu 3-chome (祝津3丁目: bus 10 stops at this villa in summer).
おたる水族館 / Otaru Suizokukan / 3-303 Shukutsu / 9am-5pm late Apr-mid Oct, 9am-4pm mid Oct-mid Nov, 10am-4pm mid Dec-late Feb / Adult ¥1500, child ¥600 / otaru-aq.jp
A large and scenic aquarium making use of natural coastline, the seaside pools come alive with seals, sea lions and walruses. The Hamanoya Shokudo (浜の家食堂: 11am-4pm mid May-mid Oct) facing the pools serving tasty grilled scallops, herrings and squid.
04 HISTORIC BUILDING
Otaru Herring Palace
小樽市鰊御殿 / Nishin Goten / 3-228 Shukutsu / 9am-5pm early Apr-mid Oct, to 4pm mid Oct-late Nov / ¥300
The Japanese-style fisherman’s house Nishin Goten was built in Western Shakotan Peninsula in 1897 and its moved to Shukutsu in 1958, at the scenic cape Takashima-misaki (高島岬) near the aquarium. It displays on fishing gear and old photos.
If you visit here by car, turn left at the end of the main road and stop at the free car park (don’t go to the seaside paid car park).
Otaru Coastal Nature Trail
小樽海岸自然探勝路 / 3-4 Shukutsu / 24hrs / Closed in winter
Starting at the Shukutsu Panorama Viewpoint (祝津パノラマ展望台) behind the aquarium, a 5.5km cliffside trail afford a stunning view of the cobalt blue ocean. Around the rocky mountain Shimo-Akaiwa-yama (下赤岩山: 279m) is the highlight on the trails.
OTARU COAST MAP
Frequent Chuo Bus 10 (via Takashima: 高島経由) and 11 (via Akaiwa: 赤岩経由) runs between Otaru Station and the aquarium (flat ¥240), stopping at Temiya (手宮) and Shukutsu (祝津).