Otaru 2: Canal Cruise

Otaru’s iconic symbol, the Otaru Canal, was completed in 1923 when Western influence penetrated Japan and ships coming in to Hokkaido came through Otaru’s port.

Large shipping vessels used to unload their goods to smaller ships which in turn brought the supplies to the warehouses that lined the canal. In the 1980’s, a private citizen advocated for the restoration of a part of the canal and defunct warehouses were converted into museums, restaurants, and shops. In 1986, a section of the canal was reclaimed and became a promenade and beautified with greenery and flowers.


Sculpted history on metal adorns a brick wall on the inner pavement of the canal.

The canal is about a three-minute walk from the end of Saikanmachi Dori. It was the location for Alessandra de Rossi and Empoy Marquez’s dancing scene and canal tour in the movie, Kita Kita 🙂

I tried the canal cruise. Japan’s innovation is manifested on the flotation device as it is very compact and handy, you could barely notice that each passenger is issued one before embarking.

img_9795-1This is the route of the canal cruise:

Some of the buildings have been used as filming locations for local films and television shows.

Artists occasionally display artworks on the promenade and in the evenings, the lit vintage gas lamps give the canal a warm glow.  In winter, the Snow Light Path Festival takes here.  Today, the canal is a must-visit historic tourist district 🙂 #wheninhokkaido



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