Welcome to Otaru
Otaru (小樽) was the financial centre of Hokkaidō – a bustling center of trade with Russia and China – in the early 20th century. The city's elite invested some of those riches in the construction of grand, Western-style buildings of stone and brick – the style of the time – many of which line the town's central canal. This exotic (for Japan) atmosphere makes Otaru very popular with domestic visitors. While the town is definitely touristy, it's evocative of an interesting slice of Hokkaidō history and makes for an easy day trip or one-night excursion from Sapporo.