Top things to do in Otaru

Top Choice Ice Cream in Otaru

Kita-no Aisukurīmu-ya-san

Housed in a converted warehouse that was built in 1892, just back from the canal, this legendary Otaru ice-cream parlour scoops up some seriously 'special' ice cream flavours, such as wasabi, beer, and natto. The ik…
Top Choice Canal in Otaru

Otaru Canal

Historic Otaru canal is lined with warehouses from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This was a time when traditional Japanese architecture was infused with Western-style building techniques, so some of the bu…
Sushi in Otaru

Otaru Sushi-kō

Come here for excellent sushi sets and kaisen-don (bowls of rice topped with sashimi) featuring Hokkaidō specialities such as sake (salmon), ikura (salmon roe), uni (sea urchin) and kani (crab). Note that it often c…
Museum in Otaru

Otaru General Museum

This annexe of the Otaru Museum, known as the Ungakan (運河館), is housed in a restored warehouse dating from 1893 near the canal. It does a good job of illustrating (with an English-language supplement) Otaru's rise, …
Bar in Otaru


In a building with literary history sits ISO, one of the few bars Otaru offers. Dark leather seats, wood and brick walls, mellow bar staff, soft samba music in the background – it's a perfect spot to unwind with a w…
Museum in Otaru

Nishin Goten

One of Otaru's must-see spots, this old herring house, once at the sea's edge, has been moved to a gorgeous bluff and has a number of artefacts and photos depicting the herring industry in its heyday. Most of it is …
Antiques in Otaru


This tiny cluttered shop has all sorts of fascinating stuff, from expensive ornamental hairpins to kitschy lamps to 100-year-old sake cups.
Historic Building in Otaru

Bank of Japan Otaru Museum

The former Otaru branch of the venerable Bank of Japan (日本銀行), completed in 1912 and designed by the same architect who did Tokyo Station, has been so thoroughly restored as to look rather contemporary. Don't miss t…
Museum in Otaru

Otaru Music Box Museum

This museum has clearly, uh, struck a chord: there are now five of them in town, with over 25,000 music boxes on display. Actually everything is for sale. While it's mostly new stuff for the tourist market, on the 2…
Glass in Otaru

Kitaichi Sangōkan

Local glassmaker Kitaichi is a hit with tourists, with numerous shops clustered east of the canal, including this, the biggest one. Pretty souvenirs include etched crystal tumblers and delicate pendant lamps.