Business Hours for year-end and new-year

These three our tourist information's business hours for year-end and new-year will be changed.
Canal Plaza International Information Center & Souvenir shop
Tourist information in Otaru Sta.
Asakusa Bridge tourist information

Business Hour
Dec.31         9am ~ 3pm
Jan.1           Close
Jan.2 ~ 4     10am ~ 5pm
Jan.5~         9am ~ 6pm

I wish you a peaceful new year :)


The First Sunrise at Mt.Tengu

Would you like to see the early-morning sunlight on the new year's day from the top of the Mt.Tengu to pray for a good year?
Otaru Mt.Tengu ski resort runs rope way for first sunrise on January 1.
Of course you can see the first sunrise and besides, you can do the New Year's visit to a "Otaru Mt.Tengu Shrine".
Generally, Japanese people visit shrines to pray for happiness and good health in the coming year.
Why don't you experience Japanese style new year's days?
In addition, at "Sightly Restaurant Tengu", hot rice-cake soup will be provided to first 100 visitors from 7am.
Hot rice-cake soup is traditional food in New year's days in Japan as well.
And this is great information for those who love skiing and snowboarding.
Mt. Tengu ski resort is also opened from 7am, and skiers and snowboarders can take rope way from 7am to 9am for 1,000 yen as unlimited ride.
This is one of beautiful ways to spend New Year's days in Otaru.

Night view from the mountaintop of Tengu ↓

Otaru Mt.Tengu First Sunrise Operation
Date: January 1, 6:30am ~
Place: Top of Mt.Tengu
Access: Take a bus from Chuo-bus Otaru station terminal Gate 3. Required about 20 minutes. Bus fare 210yen for one way.
Enquiry: +81 134 33 7381


New Year Event for 2013

Hi, Otaru got much snow these day! (Too much?? :|)
Did you enjoy your Christmas day?
Our long event "Otaru Long Xmas" has finished yesterday, and now we are cleaning up after it.
So today, I'll let you know about some events for year-end and new-year.

Countdown Events
Otaru Soko No.1 countdown 2013 (Otaru Craft Beer Brewery)
 Schedule: December 31, 8pm ~ January 1, 5am
 Access: 15 minutes walk from JR Otaru station.
This is an annual event at Otaru craft beer brewery. You can enjoy Otaru's craft beer and foods with live music.

Grand Park Otaru 2012 Contdown Party
 Schedule: December 31, 9:30pm ~ January 1, 1am
 Access: Grand Park Otaru Hotel is located next to Otaru Chikko station.
Live musical performance, lottery and Japanese Calligraphy can be enjoyed with the theme of "Let's give thanks to 2012!". Besides, fireworks display will be held.

The 12th Tanaka Sake Brewery Yukusake Kurusake festival
 Schedule: December 31, 11pm
 Access: 10 minutes walk from Minami Otaru station.
 Lucky sake "Hatsumi" is going to be brewed all night with the sound of the bells on New Year's Eve. Year-crossing herring soba (Japanese noodle) and sweet beans soup with rice cake are provided  and you can join the lottery when you buy "Hatsumi".


Falling star at Otaru canal?? ~Otaru Long Xmas~

I've introduced about a Christmas event in Otaru, "Otaru Long Xmas 2012 final" before, and today, I'm going to let you know the other main feature project.
The name of the project is...
"Christmas Story Winter Falling Star (冬の流星) "
You might have thought "Eh? Can we see falling stars at the sky around Otaru canal?" but No, we will be able to see them on the surface of Otaru canal.
Please look at this picture
Amazing, isn't it??
Actually this is a composite picture :-P This is an image for new project.
For three days in Christmas days,  float LED light bulbs (named Praying star 祈り星) on the Otaru Canal, make romantic star-filled night sky.

 Image of "Praying star 祈り星"
 ●What is "Praying star" ?
"Praying star" is the LED light bulb of 8.5 cm diameters with people's wishes and look like stars in the night sky. It starts lighting-up by taking on water, and has rechargeable battery and solar panel. Good for environment.
● "How can we float Praying star"?
First of all you need to get a ticket for it.
From today, we're selling tickets for floating Praying stars. Details
Praying Star Ticket
Can be purchased at Canal Plaza.
It includes the right for floating and glass ball cell-phone charm (gleam out in a dark place). Floating time is twice for each day, 5:15pm or 6pm. Please choose the time you like. On the day you float, you can change your ticket to floating praying star (LED light bulb) and cell-phone charm at Asakusa bridge. Then, please enjoy floating on the time you chose. ※You can't bring the LED light bulb to your home. Please make sure to float the LED light bulb certainly.
Venue for floating
  Around Asakusa bridge (15 minutes walk from JR Otaru station)
  ・December 22 (Sat)... 5:15pm or 6 pm
  ・December 23 (Sun)... 5:15pm or 6pm
  ・December 24 (Mon)... 5:15pm or 6pm
Ticket sales at Canal Plaza
  Address ...  1-20, Ironai 2 chome, Otaru city, Hokkaido, Japan
  Tel ... +81 134 33 1661 (English, Chinese, Korean OK)
  Access ... 10 minutes walk from JR Otaru station towards the sea.

It's limited 1,000 bulbs each day, please don't miss it!!


Otaru Long Xmas 2012

An annual event started this year too.
Actually, this event will be final, entitled
"Otaru Long Xmas 2012 final".

For this event Otaru tourism association is preparing wonderful plans.
Today, I'll let you know about them.
Floating Glass Ball Tree
 This tree is made from about 300 glass balls. But these glass balls are special for us because every year in February, these glass balls are floated on the water surface of Otaru canal with candles inside them. During the Christmas days, we use them as parts of Christmas tree.

Venue : Canal Plaza
Access : 10 minutes walk from JR Otaru station
Period : Nov.11 ~ Dec.25
Lighting : 4pm ~ 0am

Message Tree
By mini-tree with visitors' message, we are going to complete the Christmas tree of four meters tall. We sell this mini-tree for 500 yen each.
Venue① : Canal Plaza
Access : 10 minutes walk from JR Otaru station
Period : Nov.11 ~ Dec.25
Business hours : 9am ~ 7pm (On Friday, Saturday and Sunday during this event, and Dec.19 ~ 25, opens until 8pm)
Venue② : Top of Mt, Tengu
Access : Take a bus from Chuo-bus Otaru station terminal. Gate # 3. Bus # 9. Required time is about 20 minutes, then change to the ropeway, takes about 5 minutes to the mountaintop.
Period : Nov.17 ~
Business hours : 9am ~ 9pm
Glass Arts Exhibition
11 Glass studios in Otaru exhibit beautiful works. You can enjoy them soon after you arrive at Otaru and through the ticket gate.
Venue : JR Otaru station yard
Period : Nov.11 ~ Dec.25


Free Wi-Fi @ Canal Plaza

Hello, how are you?
I have a good information for visitors to Otaru.
I've been asked by tourists like "Is there any free Wi-Fi spots?" but answer was "No..." until recently.
However, actually our tourist information center (International information center) has introduced free Wi-Fi and became quite convenient!!

How to connect FREESPOT

ChooseWifiON】→【FREESPOTon setting page
Open a browser page, and go to the authenticating page.
    Choose one of the followings.

(1)2 hours by e-mail authentication

(2)6 months by e-mail authentication and acceptance of ads e-mail.
           ※Recommend to use Mobile e-mail address. E-mail address which can’t to be used without browser is not available.
           ※Password will be sent to your registered e-mail address.

(3)10 minutes without registration of e-mail address.
           ※After time-out, it can be used 3 hours later again.

Check the Terms and Conditions, chooseAgreeorDo not agree
 After markAgree, please clickSubmit

We're looking forward to seeing you at Canal Plaza!! :)


Monthly Event Information ~ '12 Nov ~

Hi, I've got the list of events for November.
It'll start to snow in November and attractive events will be held in romantic atmosphere in Otaru.
I'm going to introduce these events roughly today and I will post as new information and details become available.

Otaru Long Christmas 2012
Schedule... Nov 11 (Sun) to Dec 25 (Tue)
Place... Canal Plaza, Top of Mt, Tengu
Access... ◆To Canal Plaza ---10 minutes walk from JR Otaru station. ◆To Mt,Tengu--- Take a bus from Chuo-bus Otaru station terminal. Gate# 3, Bus# 9. About 20 minutes later, get off at the last stop and change to ropeway. It takes about 5 minutes to the mountaintop.
This annual event begun in 2005 and will be held from November 11 this year too.
It features the 4-meter-high white message tree at Canal Plaza, the 5-meter-high Glass ball tree in front of Canal Plaza. Also another message tree will be placed at the top of Mt, Tengu, would you like to leave your wish on message card with Christmas tree?Besides that, for 3 days (Dec 22 ~ 25), about 5,000 gleaming balls (ball of LED light)will be floated down Otaru canal at night as an experiment. It's named "Christmas Story Winter Falling Star". On November 8, we're going to float about 100 of them on a trial basis.

  Glass Ball Tree at Canal Plaza

 White Message Tree in Canal Plaza

The 5th Otaru Shako(Mantis prawn) Festival
Schedule... Nov 24 (Sat) and 25 (Sun) 10am ~ 3pm
Place... Otaru Port Pier No.3
Access... Abour 15 minutes walk from JR Otaru station.
Otaru is famous for "Shako(Mantis prawn)". In this event, various kinds of fresh autumnal"Shako" menus, such as "boiled Shako", "Grilled Shako", and "Shako nabe"(hot pot dish) can be enjoyed. Besides that, we can enjoy scallop, octopus and abalone that were caught in Otaru and can be enjoyed only in this season!!

Bay Forest Xmas
Schedule... Nov 10 (Sat) to Dec 25 (Tue) 4:30 ~ 9pm
Place... Wing Bay Otaru Shopping mall
Access... The closest station is "Otaru Chikko station" (second station from Otaru to Sapporo). This shopping mall is located next to the station. Or, many buses are operated from a bus terminal in front of JR Otaru station.
During the term from 4:30 to 9pm, colorful illuminations are lit up. About 60,000 electrical bulbs britghten up Christmas days of Wing bay Otaru shopping mall.

Tanaka Sake Brewery "Hokkaido Grain Festival"
Schedule... Nov 22 (Thu) to 25 (Sun)
Place... Tanaka Sake Brewery Kikko Gura branch
Access... Take a stroller's bus "A" from Chuo-bus Otaru station terminal. Gate #4, get off at "Tanaka shuzou kikko gura mae"(田中酒造亀甲蔵前). Required about 20 minutes.
This is thanksgiving for harvesting in which many kinds of grains produced in Hokkaido, will be displayed and introduced. Makgoli (Korean sake), wheat vinegar and rice distilled spirit made from them are sold. In addition, on 24th and 25th, they are going to do "Mochi (rice cake) pounding" using Hokkaido's rice.

Snow Cruise Onze Ski Resort Opens
Schedule... Nov 11 (Sun) 11:11am!!
Access... Free shuttle bus is operated from "Zenibako station" and some stations from Sapporo.
schedule from Zenibako station is 9:37, 11:37, 14:37, 16:37, 18:37. Required about 8 minutes.
This is the first ski resort to be opened in Hokkaido. Firework display will  be held at 6pm.

Some roads will be closed for winter season. If you're going to rent a car and enjoy driving in Hokkaido, please be aware of closure and the roads condition.


Free Admission ~Nov 3 Culture Day~

Hello, how are you??
Sorry for not posting for long time :-P
Today, I'll let you know MUST-VISIT facilities on NOVEMBER 3rd.
If you are going to visit Otaru on November 3rd, don't forget this information :)
Why I'm hanging up about Nov 3 is because the day is national holiday, Culture day in Japan.
You can enter following cultural facilities FOR FREE in Otaru.

Otaru Museum
(displays about the oldest railway in Hokkaido)
 Open... 9:30am ~ 5pm
 Close... Tuesday and New year holidays
 Fee... 300yen → FREE on Culture day
 Access... 30 minutes walk from JR Otaru station. Or take stroller's bus "C" from Chuo-bus Otaru station terminal. Gate # 4. Required about 14 minutes by bus.

Otaru Museum Otaru canal annex
(displays about Otaru's history and nature)
 Open... 9:30an ~ 5pm
 Close... New year holidays
 Fee... 300yen → FREE on Culture day
 Access... 15 minutes walk from JR Otaru station.

Otaru city Museum of Art
 Open... 9:30am ~ 5pm
 Close... Monday and next day of public holiday
 Fee... 300yen → FREE on Culture day
 Access... 10 minutes walk from JR Otaru station.

Otaru Literary Museum
 Open... 9:30am ~ 5pm
 Close... Monday and next day of  public holiday
 Fee... 300yen → FREE on Culture day
 Access... 10 minutes walk from JR Otaru station. Located next to Otaru city Museum of Art.

Former Otaru branch of Nihon Yusen Co.
 Open... 9:30am ~ 5pm
 Close... Tuesday and New year holidays.
 Fee... 300yen → FREE on Culture day
 Access... About 25 minutes walk from JR Otaru station.  Or take local bus from Chuo-bus Otaru station terminal. Bus # 10 or 11, get off at "Nishikimachi (錦町)".

Temiya Cavern Preservation Center
 Open...  9:30am ~ 5pm
 Close... Tuesday and winter (Nov 4 - Apr 28)
 Fee... 100yen → FREE on Culture day
 Access... Same as Otaru Museum.

If you can't find these locations, please feel free to ask tourist information center


Basic Tourist Information 4 ~ Big three of Otaru ~

Talking of the big three of Otaru tourism is, "Sushi", "Orgel"(Music box) and "Glass products".


Nowadays, there are more than 100 sushi restaurants in Otaru. Otaru faces the sea of Japan, so we can enjoy fresh seafood easily, and Otaru's amazing sushi is made from a wealth of seafood by sushi chefs.
←↓These images are "Shikama"(しかま) sushi restaurant's.

Otaru has unique named street, "Sushiya-dori street". It's located just in 10 minutes walk from JR Otaru station. 25 years ago, only five sushi restaurants(Masa-zushi 政寿司, Machino まちの, Nihonbashi 日本橋, Yamatoya 大和家 and Shikama しかま) were on this street but now, about 20 sushi restaurants are in business on this street.
Also you can get sushi making lesson. Professional sushi chefs teach you how to make sushi.
Orgel(Music box)
Originally, music box has been created in Switzerland since over 200 years ago. The reason for that music box rooted in Otaru, is it suits with Otaru's retro atmosphere.
Of course you can try making music box as well. These products in this image are Music box museum's → 
You can find glass shops everywhere in Otaru, I'm often asked like "Why glass products are so famous in Otaru?" by visitors. Because... Otaru prospered by herring fishery. At that time, glass floating buoys were used for fishing net. That's why, glass industry has been developed together. Still now various glass products can be purchased in Otaru city. In addition, many glass studios prepare lots of menus for glass making experience. Accessory, mug, vase and so on. Would you like to try them?
These shops and restaurants are located in walkable distance from JR Otaru station. If you visit our tourist information centers, we can recommend you various menus of making music box and glass. Please feel free to ask us :)


Monthly Event Information ~'12 Oct~

Hello, how are ya?
I've got an event information for this month.
I translated it so, I'll post about it today.

*******Continuing Events*******

Otaru Lighting up Strolling Tour
Every Tuesday and Friday until October
Schedule... 6 pm~ required about 45 minutes
Place... Former Temiya railway Ironai station
Access... 10 minutes walk from JR Otaru station
Tour around illuminated historical buildings with guides. Depart Ironai station and break up at Otaru canal. Unnecessary for reservation. Free of charge.


Steam Locomotive Niseko
Every Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays of Sep 15 ~ Nov 4
Fare... Return ticket for Sapporo ~ Rankoshi (free area between Otaru Chikko and Rankoshi) 3,600 yen (fare 2,800 yen, reserved seat 800 yen) ※Child's fare is half price. Please inquire for other area's fare.
《To Rankoshi》 Sapporo 8:31 → Otaru (Arr 9:17) Dep 9:58 → Yoichi 10:32 → Niki 10:40 → Kozawa 11:16 → Kutchan (Arr 11:35) Dep 11:45 → Niseko 12:03 → Konbu 12:17 → Rankoshi (Arr 12:27) Dep 12:32 → Konbu 12:43 → Niseko 12:57 → Kutchan 13:16
《To Sapporo》 Niseko 15:40 → Kutchan (Arr 15:59) Dep 16:18 → Kozawa 16:32 → Niki 17:07 → Yoichi 17:16 → Otaru (Arr 17:47) Dep 18:13 → Sapporo 18:59
JR Otaru station... +81 134 22 0771


The 8th Yakon FestivalOct 5 (Fri) to 8 (Mon)
Schedule... 10am ~ 6pm (Oct 5, 2pm ~)
Place... Tanaka Sake Brewery Head Store, Tanaka Sake Brewery Kikkogura branch
Access... To head store, 15 minutes walk from JR Otaru station,
To Kikkogura branch, take strolling bus B from Chuo-bus Otaru station terminal, and get off at Kikkogura sake museum. Takes about 15 minutes.
They sell "Yakon" which was harvested in Shiribeshi area. Yakon is healthy vegetable looks like sweet potato, its taste and texture are similar with pear. Also they sell fresh vegetables, fruits and juice.

Shukutsu Fish FairOct 6 (Sat)
Schedule... 10am ~ 3pm
Place... Ibarakike Nakadebaribanya (Old fishermen's house)
Access... Take a bus bound for Otaru Aquarium from JR Otaru station bus terminal and get off at "Shukutsu Gyokou"(祝津漁港). Bus # 10 or 11, Gate # 3. Takes 15-20min.
This is the final month of Shukutsu Fish Fair this year which has been held every month since July. The theme of October is "Abalone and Angler".
Special lunch meal of Oct is "Steamed rice with abalone", angler soup, marinated liver of anger, and boiled young scallop in soy sauce. (Limited 100 meals for 1,000 yen each. Sold from 11am)
In addition, you can purchase raw scallop and raw abalone, and also eat them after grilling on site.

Tengu DayOct 6 (Sat) ~ 8 (Mon)
Place... Mt.Tengu ropeway, Top of Mt.Tengu
Access... Take a bus from JR Otaru station bus terminal. Bus # 9, Gate # 3. Takes about 20min.
Some events will be held for kids. Kids who have got ropeway's return ticket can get invitation for "Kids Mochi(rice cake) pounding". Besides that, home-grown fresh vegetables and fruits will be sold on the spot. Combined ticket, which includes return ticket for ropeway and meal ticket (worth of 800yen) of restaurant Tengu, can be purchased. (Adult 1,500yen, Child 1,200yen.)

Onza nama Live Otaru 2012Oct 7 (Sun)
Schedule... 2pm ~ 9pm
Place... Cafe, Bar, Pub and so on. About 16 venues.
Fee... free
This is the music event which is planned and made by musicians and clubs,  106 music bands will join it. Common restaurants, cafes and bars change into clubs with live music. Regardless of musical genre, everybody can enjoy hot performance. Our tourist information centers have maps for this event. Please don't foeget to get them.

Otaru Wind ensemble 20th Regular ConcertOct 13 (Sat)
Schedule... start 6:30 pm (open 6 pm)
Place... Otaru civic center great hall
Access... 20 min walk from JR Otaru station. Or, take a bus from JR Otaru station bus terminal. Bus # 9, Gate # 3, get off at "Shimin kaikan dori".
Admission... 500yen (Students under elementary school age are free.)
This is a regular concert of wind orchestra composed of mainly working people in Otaru. This year's concert will mark their 20th anniversary. They're gonna play various songs such as "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da", "Carmina Burana" and so on.

Please don't miss these events :)


Salmon appeared @ Canal !!

Hello, how are you ??
Every year in Autumn, many salmons ascend streams to spawn.
Now, we can see lots of salmons at Otaru canal !!
Our tourist information staff took some pictures of them.

Passengers of Canal cruise must have been surprised.
Can you see the school of salmons in front of the boat ??

Also now, we can enjoy seasonal salmon in Hokkaido, of course in Otaru too.
Every restaurant provides various kinds of salmon menus.
I'll post about it if I try them :)



How to get Otaru's tourist infomation easily :)

Hi, how are you?
Otaru has been getting cold gradually. I can't stand cold only wearing short-sleeved T-shirt any more. Please don't forget to prepare worm clothes.
For visitors to Otaru, our city provides many kinds of information materials.
Please refer to the followings ↓

Tourist Map

We have Japanese, English, Chinese, Mandarin and Korean maps.
Website → http://www.otaru.gr.jp/blog/guide-map

Otaru City Guide Book

We have them in Japanese and English.
Website → http://www.otaru.gr.jp/blog/guide-map


This is a map for strolling in Otaru city.
We have English, Chinese, Mandarin and Korean version.
Website → http://www.city.otaru.lg.jp/sisei_tokei/otaru/foreigner/otaru-map.html

Otaru Tourism Access Guide

This guide is for visitors for the first time in Otaru. Has many information such as how to get bus and train, Japanese manner and nearby other cities tourist information.
We have them in English, Chinese, Mandarin and Korean.
Website → http://www.city.otaru.lg.jp/kankou/torikumi/china/gengo_barrier_free.html

Of course each tourist information center in Otaru has these materials but you can request them from Otaru tourism association by E-mail. We can send you.
Please apply to us... http://otaru.gr.jp/contact/


Basic Tourist Information 3 ~ Climinate & Clothes ~

 Hokkaido is known as a really cold place...apart from this summer:-P
Last summer was soooo hot for us but Otaru is livable place by ordinary.
The hardest season in Otaru is winter.
Snowfall begin from the beginning of November, and come down till the beginning of April.
The coldest term is from January to the beginning of March. The outside temperature reaches below zero.
We can see beautiful views only because of the below freezing wolrd.
Otaru has every winter attractive spots, such as the Canal  frozen the surface of itself, historic buildings surrounded by snow, ski resorts and outside hot spring with winter scenery etc.
If you are planning to visit Hokkaido and enjoy these attractions for this winter, please refer to this.

Please don't forget to prepare protection against cold, for example woolen cap, groves, scarf and so on. It is important that don't expose your skin :)
In addition, during winter in Otaru, streets become sooooo slippery. Even for us, it's easy to fall down.
Please prepare shoes which have non-slip soles or, I recommend to get non-skid bands for your shoes. These bands can be purchased easily at every store during winter.
And personally, I dress in layers during winter because I'm sensitive to the cold. Many stores sell great goods called "Hokkairo". It's small sheet packed from plastic bag. After you open it, it becomes very warm.
It might be interesting to find special protection against cold yourself.