Places to visit in Otaru

Otaru Canals

In the past, Otaru’s port could not berth larger ocean-going ships. When a large ship came to port, smaller ships from the city went out to meet it and unlade the larger vessels, then return to the smaller canals to offload. Later, facilities in the port were upgraded and the canals became obsolete. Rather than landfill them back in, the city created a commercial district along the picturesque canals, filled with shops, restaurants and museums.

Music Box Museum

Housed at one end of the Sakaimichi street find the Sakaimichi Music Box Museum. This collection of buildings is dedicated to the art of the music box. Housed within these gorgeous buildings, find a vast array off varied types of music boxes, from the simple to the complex.


Much like the canal area, Sakaimichi once served a more utilitarian function as warehouses and offices. As times changed for Otaru, however, the buildings have been reclaimed as shops, restaurants, museums and glassworks (for which Otaru became quite well known).

Otaru Rail Museum

The development of the railway played a pivotal role in the modernization of Japan. Hokkaido benefited from the iron horse as well—the high-speed train allowing goods to be exported from the region quickly. Displayed just north of the Otaru canals are a few of the trains that once served to connect this far-flung prefecture to central Japan.