[Otaru, Hokkaido] Otaru Canal, Music Box Museum and Glassware Shop
For our second day of our guided tour, we’re heading to Otaru today!
Took a quick shot of the lovely city view from our hotel, JR Tower Nikko Sapporo, which was probably one of the highest buildings in Sapporo.
Chocolate milk drink! Only in Hokkaido, from Shiroi Koibito.
After breakfast, we headed down to the hotel lobby where we met up with our guide, Nobuko, (she was a different one from yesterday) for the day. Our trip today starts with a JR Train ride from Sapporo Station to the historical port city of Otaru. We knew beforehand that it was mostly going to be a walking tour, so we were well prepared. Along the way, we chatted with our guide and (if I remember correctly) learnt that she used to be a translator, which explains her excellent language skills.
Before long, we alighted at Otaru Station and the weather was excellent for a walk in Otaru. First stop, we dropped by a Sake shop. The advantages of having a guide is that we were able to get clear and detailed explanations and also lots of freebies! Special treatment, if you can consider it that – we got to sample various kinds of wine!
The tranquil Otaru Canal is a lovely place on a weekday morning. Tourists strolling on the pavement, looking at the trinkets on sale. Caricature artists waiting for a potential customer to engage their services.
Our guide helped to take a photo of us – but the sun was too glaring! We can only imagine how lovely the place would be during snow-filled winter.
Beside the Otaru Canal, we walked about a little bit under the guidance of Nobuko. As it was a weekday morning, there aren’t many people around. Come weekends, this place is supposedly swamped by not just Japanese tourists, but also large number of Russians!
We dropped by a fish-cake shop along the way, and purchased some freshly made (and then fried) fish-cake.
As a port town, Otaru is known for the freshness of its fish. For lunch, we visited one of the restaurants recommended by our guide.
One thing about these private tours in Japan – for both days, our guides do not have lunch together with us. They would first ask us what we’d like for lunch, and bring us to the eatery before leaving to consume lunch on their own. I’m not sure whether it is a standard practice on here in Japan?
More delicious Japanese food! Once you have tried authentic Japanese food, no matter from which restaurant in Japan, not much in Singapore is good enough anymore. Tomi Sushi would be a excellent place to get started, though.
Next stop – Music Box Museum! One more thing Otaru is well-known for : intricate and exquisite music boxes. A wonderful collection of one-of-a-kind music boxes can be found here, with many small ones that are available for purchase.
At scheduled intervals, there is actually a gentleman who would explain and give demonstrations of the various music boxes in there, in Japanese. Now, that’s where our guide comes in handy as we didn’t understand Japanese!
Well, our day-tour continues into yet another specialty of Otaru – glassware workshops. I’ve put together a series of images showcasing how their glassware are handmade.
First, the glass is heated up in the furnace.
Then, it is shaped by the delicate hands of the glassware artist.
Another glassware artist looking funky at work with the dark-tinted eyes protector.
And yeah, we went crazy and bought bags and bags of oh-so-sweet goodies to lug back to Singapore.
I would definitely recommend Otaru for the laid-back tourist who would like to experience the quaint and romantic charm of a Japanese port town. It definitely has a lot to offer if you don’t mind the walking!