Hokkaido // Otaru Day Trip

As I sit down writing this post, I can’t believe my long-awaited trip to Japan has recently ended. I just love visiting that country, and this time around we got to visit Hokkaido, the northern part of Japan, and it was just absolutely stunning. I fell in love with it right away and I seriously can’t wait to go back. A place filled with gorgeous mountain views and crashing waves, incredibly fresh seafood and delicious ramen… ahh! I miss it so much.

We stayed about 2 days in Sapporo, the main city in Hokkaido. We took a flight from Tokyo, which only took a little over an hour – we reckoned it was faster to do so than to take the train, and probably cheaper, too! The New Chitose Airport in Sapporo was also filled with awesome restaurants and knick-knacks, that surely, if it wasn’t closed by the time we got there, I would have immediately filled my suitcase with it …

On our third day in Sapporo, we took the 30-45 min train to Otaru. I say 30-45 because in the morning there was no rapid train, so we had to take the local train which took 45 mins. We were still fairly jetlagged, hence our early start to the day.

//warning: bazillion photos ahead….//

Arrived at the train station and welcomed with welcome bells! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Looking back to this cute station! We didn’t get a chance to go to the Otaru Fish Market which is just 10 o’clock to the station, but who knows, maybe next time, when C is feeling better?

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We made our way down the main street (Chuo-dori) towards the canal and I just fell in love with the architecture in this cute town, seriously!

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Like, the detail, OMG!

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C by the tsunami post, as we were nearing the canal itself!

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Here’s the obligatory shot of the canal, it’s so cute I love it! Just love the character of the architecture and old streets, just speaks to me so much.

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And the vines on the buildings are to die for…

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Another shot of the canal from the other direction. I can totally see why the Japanese also love Vancouver, being framed by the mountains and a body of water is what Vancouver is all about, and this little town is just that, too!

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Couldn’t help but notice this bright reddish-orange Japanese Post!

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The gorgeous view of the snow-capped mountains. Something about Japanese snow… for some reason it still sticks even though it was 11 degrees this day!

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Then we made our way to the Sakaimachi Street, where all the awesome glass outlets and goodies were to be found. All the little buildings and the vines were so pretty to me, I wonder if they would be all in green in the summer?

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I had seen this a lot throughout the highways and railways in Hokkaido, is it really for an avalanche? Or to help people from falling through? Hmm… not sure!

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Isn’t this street just simply adorable?

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One thing I absolutely love about Hokkaido is their milk and sweets products… The milk itself is honestly not too far from what we get here in Vancouver but what they do with it is what makes it extra special for me.

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I found Le Tao products the last time we were flying back, and discovered they had started out in Otaru and had lots of shops here. This one, Pathos is their biggest one I think! Had to try the double fromage cheesecake, and the soft ice cream as well and it was heavenly. Not super sweet, just a cloud of cheesy goodness. Not too cheesy either, I think it was just a perfect combination for a light dessert ๐Ÿ˜‰

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I discovered that C didn’t really like to look at glass artwork so much this trip – things you find out about your spouse is hilarious! Haha. But we took a look at some of the shops – it really reminded me of my trips to Venice – with canals and glass shops and gorgeous architecture.

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This one had a bike but along the Otaru canal we definitely saw some manual rickshaws so poor dudes are dragging the tourists around, haha!

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Also found our Gastown steam clock sister at Otaru, funny to hear that Vancouver sent one here!

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Aren’t these just the most adorable stone statues? Forgive my lack of variety of adjectives in this article… everything was just so cute!

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I don’t think you could get hungry in Otaru to be honest but we were pretty set on trying the standing sushi joint my Japanese pottery teacher recommended at the JR Otaru Station, Isezushi. I heard the main shop actually had a Michelin star, and we were all for local spots (and not tourist traps) that had awesome sushi. It was the best seafood we had all trip! We went for the 10 pc Omakase, which was such a deal at Y2100 (roughly $20!!!)

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Standing sushi places definitely have you standing the entire time, but who cares when you get to eat the best seafood and go almost after you finish? We were both so glad we were able to figure what we wanted on the menu without them whipping out an English one ๐Ÿ˜‰ The uni at this place was like… kill me now….

I had heard about amazing sushi in Hokkaido but I didn’t understand until I got here. Everything was so perfect and fresh and just amazingly prepared. I didn’t need to have a super discerning tongue to know that what I was having was top of the food chain seafood.

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And right after our meal, we paid our dues and actually headed back to Sapporo right after noon! Otaru is a fun little day-trip from Sapporo and would definitely recommend it!

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written by

Karla lives a life of commas and dashes - photography, graphic design, travelling, and more. Karla's goal for 2012 is to find a creative space for all those - and thus the birth of Shortcut Travels. Shortcut Travels is a local travel and food photography blog, showcasing short trips, adventures, and eats in and around Vancouver.
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