Otaru (小樽) is a nostalgic port town grew rapidly since the 1880s, a number of major trading companies and banks opened branch offices. This city has overtaken Sapporo in population during the Meiji period.
Today the historic buildings and stone warehouses still remain throughout the city. Walking along the canal and Sakaimachi-dori (堺町通) street are good way to explore Otaru. Followings are the popular historic sights in the city center:
(小樽運河) Built in the early 20th-century, Otaru Canal was used in the cargo handling on barges until the 1950s. Currently the cobblestone promenade along the canal offers a romantic atmosphere, especially after dark. You will find the original canal on the north side called Kita-Unga (北運河).
(小樽市総合博物館運河館) Housed inside the city’s oldest warehouse Unga-kan (built in 1893) that exhibits traces the history of Otaru’s Stone Age, herring fishing, port, trade and financial.
Bank of Japan Otaru Museum
(日本銀行小樽支店) The Bank of Japan Otaru Branch (1912-2002) was leading the Hokkaido’s economic policy during the Meiji and Taisho periods, faces on Nichigin-dori (日銀通り: also called the Wall Street of the North) lined with old bank offices. A Renaissance-style building is now a financial museum (金融資料館), focuses on banking business.
Old Nihon Yusen Otaru Branch
(旧日本郵船小樽支店) This early modern European-style shipping company building was completed in 1906, where a Karafuto Border demarcation conference under the Treaty of Portsmouth between Russia and Japan was held here. Each room has elegant interior and furnitures, a conference room has a beautiful red silk table cloth. It is close to the northern end of the canal. Note: this building is currently closed (until March 2022).