6-Day South Hokkaido Itinerary
Above shows a snapshot of Hokkaido on Google Maps and an overview of the route we took. Clearly, there were more places in Hokkaido I would love to visit but due to the brevity of time and accessibility by our JR East-South Hokkaido Pass, we were limited to 5 cities: Hakodate, Lake Toya, Noboribetsu, Sapporo and Otaru.
I first plotted my route according to the attractions we want to visit on Google Maps. When I’m done with the final bookmarking, I export it to a phone app, Maps.me, through this method, which allows me to transfer all my bookmarks into the app and use it offline on the go!
With chasing sakuras and excellent Japanese cuisines in mind, we set off to places that offered the best of these!
Day 4: Otaru
We took a 30-minute train ride away from Sapporo station to arrive at Otaru, a small harbour city. The Otaru Canal has got to be the main highlight of Otaru. As the day goes, streams of tourists flock to the canal to take pictures.
On one side of the canal, local artists line up on the sidewalk to showcase their artwork to tourists. On the other side, warehouses built in the early 20th century stands. They are now restored and transformed into museums, shops and restaurants.
You can take an Otaru Canal Cruise for ¥1,500/ SGD19. Cruise along the historical canal in this 40 minute ride that loops around the canal. There are both day and night cruises, depending on the season. While we didn’t stay until nightfall, the sight at night, when the lamps illuminate, is another sight altogether!
Come before 10am if you want to avoid your pictures being bombarded by tourists!
Sakaimachi Street is a preserved, merchant street, where old offices and shophouses have been transformed into modern day souvenir shops, boutiques, restaurants, cafes and museums whilst maintaining its late 1800s façade. It is now a shopping street where we bought many souvenirs and cute glasswares from. Don’t miss visiting these shops:
SHOP: Otaru Music Box Museum (Location)
I was thoroughly fascinated by the sheer number of music boxes in this 3-storey wooden museum house. The music boxes come in all shapes and sizes, from wood to porcelain and even stuffed toys! Keep your eyes open for the steam clock, gifted by Vancouver, at its entrance!
SHOP: Kitaichi Glass Outlet (Location)
Otaru has a reputation for manufacturing glassware, so exploring the numerous glass outlets is compulsory. They come in the forms of cute mini glass figurines, pendants, jewellery and brooches. We couldn’t help but bring some of them home to distribute.
EAT: LeTAO Le chocoLat (Location)
LeTAO attracts a crowd because of their generous sample offerings – and that’s the first thing you would notice when you bypass their shops. Their signature products are Double Fromage and Royal Montagne.
EAT: Wakadori Jidai Naruto なると 本店 (Location)
Famous for their golden formula fried chicken, indulge in their their ¥1,100 Hanshinage Chicken Meal that comes with a generous half of a chicken.
Operating hours: 11:00-21:00
EAT: Yabuhan Soba 小樽蕎麦屋 籔半 (Location)
Another well-known eatery, the chefs and owners here take pride in their handmade soba. A recommended dish is the sea urchin soba (¥1200).
Operating hours: 11:00-20:30
EAT: Uoshin 魚真 (うおまさ) (Location)
Sushi, seafood, tempura – these are the typical food you can expect in a contemporary restaurant. Expect to spend about SGD35. Make reservations if you can.
Operating hours: 12:00-14:00, 16:00-21:30
EAT: Kamaei Kamaboko (株)かま栄 工場直売店 (Location)
The fishcakes that they sell taste quite differently from the typical ones we eat – they are sweeter, softer and yet more dense. Find all sorts of fish paste products at this shop.
EAT: Sankaku Fish Market
Just outside of Otaru train station on its left, hidden behind a row of residential buildings, lies a covered wet market. Walk through the narrow row of stalls and be distracted by the numerous live seafood alongside you.
On our way back after visiting Otaru Canal, we indulged in expensive fresh seafood in one of the stalls here. Amounting to SGD153, our orders included a hairy crab, steam clam, whelk (a kind of sea snail), grilled scallop and a salmon bento set. Then again, fresh seafood everywhere in Japan comes at a price.
Recommended duration in Otaru: 1 full day
Next post: Sapporo (Coming soon! Fill in your details below to be updated when it's live!)
Want the entire Hokkaido itinerary on Google maps? Subscribe below and drop me a message!