Even though it is only about a 30-minute by rapid train from Sapporo, Otaru (小樽) is a nostalgic port town, with an atmospheric, hilly setting overlooking the Sea of Japan. The town has grown rapidly in international trade and coal shipping from the 1880s. Japan’s major trading companies and banks opened their branch offices, and the population was greater than Sapporo until the 1920s.
Today the cultural weight of its heyday can be felt throughout the town, such as century-old Western-style buildings and warehouses.


Otaru Canal


10min walk from Otaru Station

One of Otaru’s ‘must-sees’, this 1300m-long canal was built in 1923 and used in the cargo handling on barges until the 1950s. Today the cobblestone promenade and old warehouses along the canal has a romantic atmosphere, especially after dark. Take a 40-minute interesting Canal Cruise from from Chuo-bashi bridge near the Canal Plaza.

Otaru Museum of History and Nature

小樽市総合博物館 運河館

10min walk from Otaru Station

Housed inside the city’s oldest warehouse of Unga-kan (built in 1893) along the canal gives an introduction history of Otaru, such as the Ainu culture, herring fishing, trading and development. Among the displays are old town photos, maps, ceramics and fishing gear. There are also restored merchant houses in the heyday Taisho period.

Shu Ogawara Museum of Art


5min walk from Otaru Station

Originally constructed in 1880 as a part of Hokkaido’s first railway, the Old Temiya Line (discontinued in 1985) is maintained as a 1600m-long promenade from Sushiya-dōri. The restored Old Ironai Station, behind Otaru City Museum of Art, is a good starting point to walking along the track. Northern end of the track is the gateway of Otaru Museum near Temiya bus stop.

The Bank of Japan Otaru Museum


10min walk from Otaru Station

During the Meiji and Taishō periods, Hokkaido’s economic policy was led by the Bank of Japan Otaru Branch. Built in 1912, the Renaissance-style building was designed by Tatsuno Kingo, who also designed Tokyo Station. Otaru Branch was closed in 2002 and transformed into a financial museum, focuses on functions and operations of the Bank of Japan in Hokkaido.

Otaru Museum of Art


10min walk from Otaru Station

This art museum is housed in an old local postal saving bureau dating from 1952, right opposite the Bank of Japan Otaru Museum. The permanent collection features landscape paintings by Nakamura Zensaku. This building shares with Otaru Literary Museum, which showcases literary works of local novelists, such as Kobayashi Takiji and Ito Sei.



15min walk from Otaru Station / 8min walk from Minami-Otaru Station

Halfway between JR Minami-Otaru Station and Otaru Canal, this atmospheric street is lined with classic buildings and warehouses built in the early 20th-century, and now have been refurbished into craft studios, souvenir shops, restaurants and cafes. Don’t miss the Kitaichi Glass Building No.3 and the Otaru Music Box Museum.

Old Nippon Yusen Otaru Branch


18min walk from Otaru Station / 8min walk from Ungakan

Near the northern end of Otaru Canal facing Unga Park, this early modern European-style building was completed in 1906 as a shipping company branch. It was designed by Satachi Shichijiro. Each room has elegant interior and furnitures, particularly the conference room on the 2nd floor has a beautiful red silk table cloth. It may be closed for repairs until 2024.

Otaru Museum

小樽市総合博物館 本館

12min by bus from Otaru Station, get off at Sogo-hakubutsukan

Located on the site of Old Temiya Station to convey the railway history of Hokkaido, this museum has permanent collection of train models, old tickets and timetables. Featuring the American-style steam locomotive Shizuka (1884), which ran on Hokkaido’s first railway. An open-air exhibition (closed in winter) features about 50 vintage trains, include diesel cars, coaches and steam locomotives.



20min by bus from Otaru Station

About 3km southeast of JR Otaru Station, Tengu-yama Ropeway takes you to the top at 532m for sweeping view across the town to the ocean. Inside the observatory at the top, there are two small museums (free), which displays on about 700 unique masks of tengu (long-nosed goblin) and Otaru’s ski history. It also has a cafe. Dating back to 1923, Teungu-yama Ski Resort has six beginner and advanced runs



Dormy Inn Premium Otaru ♨︎

天然温泉 灯の湯 ドーミーインPREMIUM小樽

1min walk from Otaru Station

Convenient location for travelers by train or bus, this businesslike hotel opposite JR Otaru Station offers onsen and men-only reasonable capsule rooms. Seafood breakfast included in the charge.



7min walk from Otaru Station

Housed in the Old Ethcuya Hotel, established as Hokkaido’s first hotel for foreigners built in 1931, the Unwind Hotel has moth modern rooms and nostalgic atmosphere.

Hotel Sonia Otaru ♨︎


10min walk from Otaru Station

A good place to overnight is this budget inn with lake-front Japanese-style rooms. Shared toilets and indoor onsen.


Getting There


Get off the train at Otaru Station.

● During the daytime, the rapid Airport runs to Otaru from New Chitose Airport (73min) via Sapporo (33min) every 30 minutes, stopping at Otaru-chikko and Minami-Otaru.
● From Otaru, there are also local trains to Oshamanbe (3hr) via Kutchan (70min).


Chuo and JR (JHB) operate frequent highway buses between Otaru Station and Sapporo Station bus stop 1 (1hr). Prepaid IC cards are available. Hokkaido Rail Pass holders can use the JR Bus between Sapporo and Otaru.


Shin-Nihonkai Ferry operates an overnight ferry services to Otaru from Niigata (Tue-Sun; 18hr) and Maizuru (almost daily; 20hr) in Kyoto. Otaru Ferry Terminal is 1.8km west of JR Otaru-chikko Station (5min by taxi or 20min on foot), or about a 15-minute walk from Sakai-machi.

Getting Around


Chuo Bus runs an extensive bus network throughout the city. Most buses operate from JR Otaru Station. Inner-city bus fares are flat and prepaid IC cards are available. Otaru City Bus One-day Pass (1日乗車券) is valid for the inner-city lines.


Otaru is known as a hilly town with many steep slopes, but the coastal areas are relatively flat and suitable for cycling. Bikes can be rented from the Kitarin (きたりん) immediately to the left as you exit of JR Otaru Station.


Otaru International Information Center
Inside the Canal Plaza, Otaru’s oldest warehouse (built in 1880). Multilingual staff in here. Stock up on brochures and local products. It is a 10-minute walk from JR Otaru Station.

Otaru Station

小樽 | 오타루

Address:2 Inaho, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido

Distance:33km from Sapporo