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The snowy entrance of Myriad, an Australian wine shop.

Otaru is a small harbour city known for its historic architecture, romantic canal area, and fresh seafood. You can arrive there in around an hour if you catch public transport from Sapporo station.

Odori Park after rain.

Catching the bus from Odori to Otaru.

Many people like to choose Otaru for a day trip from Sapporo. By car, it takes around 45 minutes. In the 6 hours that I was there for, it was mostly raining. I still managed to visit nice places, which are noted at the bottom of this article.

Alighting from the bus at Otaru.

Hotel Nord is next to the Otaru Canal

During the Meiji and Taisho periods of Japan (1868 – 1926), the port town of Otaru was important for business. Banks and trading companies had majestic stone offices, many of which still remain.

Architecture in Otaru.

The entrance to Miyakodori Shopping Street.

Today, century-old buildings exist as shops and glasswork studios. Back in the day, they played important roles in Otaru’s functioning as a maritime trade centre.

Entrance to Sankaku Market.

Vendor at Sankaku Market.

If you’re fond of chatting to locals, Sankaku Market is home to shop owners who are eager to introduce their seafood to you.

There are multiple restaurants inside Sankaku Market.

Ajidokoro Takeda and Takinami Donburi Restaurant are popular venues

Sankaku Market is a good place to have lunch in. There are down-to-earth restaurants that serve rice bowls packed with buttery uni (sea urchin). If you’re looking to try a substantially-sized bowl, prepare to pay around 55 AUD. 

The friendly stranger next to me was from Taiwan and let me photograph her food.

A donburi rice bowl with salmon roe, sea urchin and crab.

On the topic of delicious food, the dessert brand LeTAO was founded in Otaru by Kawagoe. The island of Hokkaido is fond of sweet treats (have you tried Sapporo parfait?). Otaru, with its artisanal reputation, was the perfect birthplace for LeTAO’s famous cheesecakes.

Sankaku Market is relatively small and can get a little crowded.

The former Temiya Line railroad.

When your belly is satisfied from lunch at Sankaku Market, you can walk to the old railroad of the Temiya Line. It was built in 1880 and was the oldest railway line in Hokkaido! Nowadays, having been purchased by the city government in 2001, it is a charming promenade cutting through parts of downtown.

Otaru served as a major port in the late 1800s.

Travel for ~1 hour to get to Otaru from Sapporo.

Walking around Otaru, I felt an atmosphere that was distinctly different. The city centre had stately buildings that were well preserved and warehouses that were reminiscent of 19th century maritime trade – when ships would arrive from the United States and United Kingdom.

The romantic Otaru Canal has been beautifully preserved.

Heritage warehouses and office buildings are reminiscent of Otaru’s maritime past.

The Otaru Canal area is a must-visit. During the day, you can meet artists and see their works. At night, the elegant lamps light up a romantic stroll.

Myriad was founded by Tessa Goodall and partner Tatsuya.

An Australian wine shop in the downtown area of Otaru!

While it was raining, I stumbled upon a storefront proudly displaying its Australian origin. It was part of an historical building, which I later learned was the 47th branch of Bank Otaru. Both in need to shelter from the rain and to indulge my curiosity, I walked in. 

Discover flavours from South Australia.

Myriad’s elegant, wooden-finished space is inside a former bank branch.

It was lovely to meet Tessa Goodall. She, along with her partner Tatsuya, founded Myriad in 2022. In her elegantly-designed, wooden-finished shop, Tessa shared about her story – how she was raised in Adelaide (South Australia) and moved to Japan to study its language. Tessa saw opportunity to form a bridge between the renowned vineyards of South Australia and the seafood-loving cities of Sapporo and Otaru. Today, Myriad proudly presents its red, white and fruity wines from famous regions like the Barossa Valley. I look forward to learning about delicious seafood & wine pairings from Tessa!

Trying the famous Hokkaido soft-serve.

Inside Miyakodori Shopping Street. It was night time so most shops were closed.

The pictures in this article sketch out your potential day-trip itinerary in Otaru, Hokkaido. The places I visited were:

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It takes just a minute 🙏

My name is Garry Ho, I’m the founder.
If you have enjoyed our content and found it helpful, please consider supporting us.
All major cards are accepted.

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