This section is dedicated to take away all your "I wish someone had told me that before I went!" experiences. This way, you are better prepared for what to expect, what not to expect and can spend less time settling in, and more time making new friends in your chosen hostel. We share our insider knowledge of tips, tricks and important things to look out for in Otaru. To help you make friends with Otaru before you visit, we've included a few helpful and fun things you should know about the area. Enjoy!
Otaru is an historic port city around forty kilometers northwest of Sapporo, on the Japanese Island of Hokkaido. This is a beautiful Japanese city to visit at any time of year and is worth a couple of days of exploring. The main city of Otaru is very walkable -- most attractions are within a thirty-minute walk of the JR Otaru Train Station but their are also regular buses around the town and to the outlying attractions.
One of the must-sees for visitors is the Otaru Canal, which is especially scenic at night or with the winter snow. It is flanked by old warehouses -- many of which have now been converted to shops and eateries. Sakaimachi Street is a popular tourist street with lots of food and souvenir shops. There are also many different glass and music-box shops here, for which Otaru has now become famous. Many of these shops also offer classes where you can make your own glass items and music boxes.
Many museums and historic buildings are open to the public across the town. There are also many attractions you can access via the local buses and trains including the Nikka Yoichi Whiskey Distillery, Otaru Aquarium, and Herring Mansions at Shukutsu. Mount Tenguyama Ropeway also offers skiing in the winter as does the Asarigawa Onsen Area. Shakotan Peninsula is also a great day trip from Otaru with tourist buses going in the summer. Otaru is also home to the Snow Light Festival, which is held in February. Food is also great in Otaru and is especially known for its seafood, including many sushi options.
There are a few Otaru hostels -- mostly small, homey affairs -- so during the popular times and especially during summer, it is worth booking in advance. If you want to be close to everything, then head to the Otaru hostels close to JR Minami-Otaru Station; the other options are quite a bit further out but accessible by local buses or a longer walk.
Written by local enthusiast for Otaru hostelsKeppers