All about Otaru Canal | Everything from a Model Course Devised by Travel Professionals to Lodging


publication date:12/18/2015 latest update:05/13/2016


Otaru Canal ‘Otaru’ is one of the leading tourist spots in Hokkaido with high popularity, and its symbol is the Otaru Canal. But what’s so special about the Otaru Canal? And how much tourism time should you set aside for it?

In this article, we’ve covered how to enjoy the Otaru Canal, places to visit and restaurants, hotels and more for those visiting Otaru for the first time! Staff at Japanese travel agencies who’ve been to Otaru countless times will give you a thorough introduction.

【1】The Charm and History of Otaru Canal Seen in Photographs

Otaru’s charm is without a doubt the beautiful scenery.
Otaru Canal was completed in the year 1923, when Japan had Westernized. It was built to support shipping by boat to Hokkaido, which at the time was just developing. Nostalgic buildings from that time are still lined up alongside the canal.

Beautiful Blue Skies and Greenery During Summer at the Otaru Canal
Otaru Canal in summer

The Otaru Canal was completed in 1923. At that time Hokkaido, a broad land of frigid cold, finally saw the growth of industry and the population began to increase. The port city Otaru was a major contributor to that development. This canal is a water route that supported shipping by sea. Alongside the canal, warehouses from long ago still remain.

However, its use as a canal has already come to an end. In 1986, one section was reclaimed for land. It was reworked into a promenade and roadside garden, and this is how it stands today.

The Otaru Canal in the Evening, Lit Up by Gas Lamps
Otaru Canal

63 gas lamps are set up along the Otaru Canal promenade. In the evening, the canal and the warehouses made of stone are all lit up. The atmosphere is completely different than in the day.

Nighttime at Otaru Canal, Wrapped in the Warm Colors of Gas Lamps
夜のOtaru Canal

In winter, the stone warehouses and the promenade are buried in snow, looking even more like countries in the far north.
冬のOtaru Canal


【2】Even a Short Tourist Stop is OK if You Go Here!
The Basics of Otaru Canal Tourism Otaru Canal

If you’re just looking for simple Otaru Canal tourism, just 30 minutes is all you need! We’ll show you the spots that you can’t miss.

Otaru Canal map

The Otaru Canal is located a ten minute walk from the JR Otaru station, coming down from a sloping road. (* About 15 minutes in winter.) You can easily get some tourism in by using public transport.
If you use a rental car, there are toll parking lots available in the vicinity of the canal. Expect a parking toll of 200 yen per half-hour.

・Chuo Bridge

Otaru CanalA bridge located in the center of the Otaru Canal. This is where the ‘Otaru Canal Cruise’ cruise ship arrives and departs.

Walk along the ‘canal promenade’ alongside the canal stretching from Chuo Bridge to the neighboring bridge, ‘Asakusa Bridge’, and enjoy the atmosphere. If you’re short on time, you can start here at the Chuo Bridge and still enjoy walking the canal promenade.

・Asakusa Bridge

view of Otaru Canal at sasakusa bridgeIt takes four to five minutes to walk here from the Chuo Bridge. There is a small plaza on top of the bridge, for taking a memorial photograph with the Otaru Canal as a backdrop! There’s also a tourist guide.
If you’re short on time, backtrack from the Asakusa Bridge and head back to the Chuo Bridge.
(The photograph shows the Otaru Canal and promenade as shot from the Asakusa Bridge)

・Canal Plaza

Otaru Canal pulazaLocated at the Chuo Bridge intersection. Features here include a tourism guide, sales of specialty goods and a cafe. Here you’ll find seasonal information about Otaru.

Even if you’re short on time, you can get a feel of the atmosphere inside one of the warehouses along the Otaru Canal. It will take about 30 minutes if you want to take a look at souvenirs and the like.

【3】 For Those Who Want to Enjoy the Otaru Canal More Deeply

Here we’ll introduce scenery, tourist spots, rides and more along with the Otaru Canal!
The atmosphere of the Otaru Canal changes from day to evening to night. If you’re able to, visit other tourist spots in Otaru, come back at a different time in the day to the canal to take a stroll and take in the experience.

・Northern Canal

About a 10 minute walk from the Chuo Bridge. In contrast to the area around the Chuo Bridge, here you can see the broad canal as it was during the Taisho era (about 40 meters wide). The vestiges of days past still remain, such as workboats and smaller vessels connected along the canal.
Northern Canal

・Otaru Canal Cruise

Otaru Canal CruiseFrom spring to autumn at the Otaru Canal, a tourist boat runs called the ‘Otaru Canal Cruise’. You can enjoy the canal from a boat, complete with commentary by the boat crew!

Additionally, a ‘day cruise’ runs in the daytime hours and a ‘night cruise’ runs from evening until night. What a delight to enjoy the canal at whatever time you like.

Pamphlets are available in English, Chinese (traditional and simplified), and Korean. Also, for those coming in groups or who’d like a chartered boat, we have staff from New Zealand and Taiwan who can offer guidance in English and Chinese. (Please inquire for further details.)

【Otaru Canal Cruise】
Time required: Approximately 40 minutes
Fares Day Cruise Adults 1,200 yen Children 500 yen  Night Cruise Adults 1,500 yen Children 500 yen


You can get around easily to Otaru’s tourist sites by bicycle. We recommend bicycles to those who want to see around the wide area of the Otaru Canal and Northern Canal.

Fares For 2 hours 500 yen 1 day 2,000 yen
Time Period From the April~October period (9:00~17:30).
Parking Facilities 1 day 600 yen (recommended for those who park for long periods of time)


Ride a rickshaw pulled by one of the wagon boys, and tour the area around the Otaru Canal! They usually wait around the Asakusa Bridge and the Chuo Bridge.
3,000 yen~ per person (depends on course and time)

・Related Events to the Otaru Canal

Otaru Snow Light Path
Otaru Snow Light PathA popular winter event where 140,000 plain candles light up the streets.
Floating candles are sent down the Otaru Canal, and you can enjoy a spectacular atmosphere unique to a Hokkaido winter.
This event is held at the exact same time as the ‘Sapporo Snow Festival’, so we recommend that you enjoy both Sapporo and Otaru ♪
Held from February 5 (Fri) to 14 (Sun), 2016.

【4】Four Picks for Eateries and Restaurants

Introducing four restaraunts and eateries where you can enjoy the Otaru Canal’s symbolic warehouses from long ago, and a view of the Otaru Canal.
Otaru Canal restrunt map

・Just-Made Craft Beer in this Restaurant Inside a Stone Warehouse!

Otaru Beer ・ Otaru Warehouse No. 1 (Map ①)

Otaru beer No.1Located in a stone warehouse, this is a beer restaurant that sells the local ‘Otaru Beer’.
A fired brew kettle for beer is right in the middle of the restaurant, and you can tour the brewery inside the warehouse.
Enjoy the pub food using local Hokkaido ingredients in everything from German-style craft beer to sausages.

Otaru Beer ・ Otaru Warehouse No. 1
〒047-0000 5-4 Minato-cho, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido
Phone: 0134-21-2323
11:00~22:30 (Closes 23:00) Closed: Open Year-Round

・11 Kinds of Food from Hokkaido to Enjoy in a Warehouse!

Otaru Canal Cafeteria (Map ②)

Otaru Canal syokudo
Located in a stone warehouse along the Otaru Canal, next to the Asakusa Bridge. While reproducing the feel of the Otaru cityscape, a lineup of 11 restaurants lets you enjoy the most famous foods from Hokkaido, such as buffets, ramen, kaisendon (rice bowl topped with sashimi), and soup curry.

Otaru Canal Cafeteria
〒047-0007 6-5 Minato-cho, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido
Phone: 050-5798-9387
11:00~15:00, 17:00~21:30

・Enjoy Otaru’s Specialties While Looking Out at the Canal!

Otaru Masazushi Zen’an (Map ③)

Otaru Masazushi With over 20 years of history, this is one branch of Otaru Masazushi, the famous local sushi chain.
Enjoy fresh and authentic sushi while looking over the Otaru Canal from the counter on the second floor.

Otaru Masazushi Zen’an
〒047-0000 1-2-1 Ironai, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido
Phone: 0134-22-0011
11:00~22:00  Closed: Thursdays

・A Quality Cafe Inside a Northern Canal Warehouse!

Press Cafe (Map ④)

プcafeA cafe taking up a single corner of the old Shibusawa warehouse along the Northern Canal, preserving the appearance of the Otaru Canal long ago. Enjoy a specially-prepared menu featuring north India-style curry, spaghetti, sweets and more.

Press Cafe
〒047-0000 3-3-21 Ironai, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido
Phone: 0134-24-8028

11:30~22:00 (Saturday: ~24:00) Open Year-Round

【5】Short Blurbs on Our 3 Picks for Otaru Canal Lodging Facilities

One of the big delights of the Otaru Canal is how different its scenery is in day and night. If you want to enjoy both sides of the scenery, staying nearby the Otaru Canal makes it easy! Here, we’d like to show you hotels in the Otaru Canal area.
No matter the hotel, they all have rooms that face the Otaru Canal and those that don’t. Rooms facing the Otaru Canal may be slightly more expensive.
Having come all the way here, you’d want to stay in a room facing the Otaru Canal, but do note that no matter the hotel, a wide road runs along the distance between the hotel and the canal. There’s nowhere that looks directly upon the canal below, so personally we feel that you don’t have to be particular about if the room faces the canal or not.


・Hotel Nord Otaru

Hotel Nord OtaruA European-style hotel, located in the central Otaru Canal area at the Chuo Bridge intersection. The exterior is made from marble, and inside is a patio (an indoor garden) with fountains. The top floor has a bar lounge, where you can view the nighttime scenery of the Otaru Canal and the coastline of Otaru Port in one fell swoop.
Also, the set of rooms facing the Otaru Canal can enjoy how the canal is lit up at night.

Hotel Nord Otaru (Map ⑤)
1-4-16 Ironai, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido
Phone: 0134-24-0500

・Otaru Canal Hotel Sonia

Otaru Canal Hotel SoniaA petite-style hotel separated into a main building and new building, located along the roadside of the Otaru Canal. It isn’t a large scale hotel, but inside you’ll find antique English furniture, and can sense the hand-picked feel of the hotel amenities. Also, you can enjoy how the gas lamps light up the canal at night from rooms facing the Otaru Canal (all rooms in the main building, parts of the new building).

Otaru Canal Hotel Sonia(Map ⑥)
1-2-15 Ironai, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido
Phone: 0134-29-2345

・Canal Lodging Otaru Furukawa

Otaru hot springA hotel that is a recreation of a 10th century merchant house, it lies right across the road from the Otaru Canal, facing it directly. A large hot spring for bathing and rental open-view baths. You can relax in the hot spring after a walk around Otaru.
Also, they have a popular rental service for yukata robes for foot baths and strolls (adults 500 yen).

Canal Lodging Otaru Furukawa (Map ⑦)
1-4-16 Ironai, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido
Phone: 0134-24-0500

【6】Get Your Fill in Three Hours! Otaru Canal & Otaru Tourism Model Course

Finally, we’d like to introduce the ‘Otaru Stay 3 Hour Course’ for those short on time but who want to make the most out of a trip to Otaru and have fun.

Part 1: Sakaimachi Road (Approximately 90 minutes)

cheese cakeThis is an area as popular as the Otaru Canal, and on this road lined with historical buildings and warehouses you can find curio shops and glassmakers like the famous ‘Kitaichi Glass’, and Western-style confectioneries like the ‘Le Tao’ head branch.
If you like curio shops or if you want to stock up on souvenirs, you’ll pass the time here in an instant.


Part 2: Otaru Canal (Approximately 30 minutes)

Otaru CanalEnjoy a stroll or scenic photography along the Otaru Canal, the Chuo Bridge in the center of the Otaru Canal, and the Asakusa Bridge. There are no roofs on any of these, so if it looks like it’s going to rain make sure you have an umbrella with you.
As an aside, at the ‘Canal Plaza Tourism Guide’, they also have a ‘free umbrella rental’ service.


Part 3: Sushi or Shopping in the Market (Approximately 45 minutes)

Sankaku marketYou’ve got to try the seafood in Otaru!
Our recommendation is to head to the ‘Sushi Road’ where many sushi bars are lined up and you can get a bite of sushi using the freshest ingredients, or you can go to the market in the city and find seafood like crab, scallops, and sea urchin; and in the summer buy fresh fruits and vegetables like asparagus, cherries, and melon! (Picture displays the ‘Triangle Market’ located just next to Otaru Station)

Other… Arrangements

If there’s anywhere else you’d like to go, we can cut ‘Part 3’, or shorten the time at Sakaimachi Road, or even add on another hour of time.


How did you like the guide? There are many other curio shops and historic buildings in Otaru besides those we’ve mentioned here. If you find a spot just for you that you want to recommend, please let us know.


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