so we met up with Noushka and Ditha at the Sapporo station around noon. the plan was to catch the train to Otaru at 2pm, and stay one night in that town. so we still have about 2 hours to get our lunch.
we decided to go to a Tonkatsu Restaurant at the 6th floor of Sapporo Station. they have a lunch set menu, which was a lot cheaper than the regular menu. and i thought it was pretty big for a lunch set.
and i was soooo glad that we chose this one, because the Tonkatsu was perfect… crispy and juicy at the same time. we all came out of the restaurant happy and satisfied. oh and of course, we had to take our first complete team wefie… right in front of the Tonkatsu Restaurant 😀
and now, we were ready to go to the next town: Otaru.
there are two lines that would take us to Otaru from Sapporo Station. one is the Airport Rapid that we took yesterday when we arrived. that one goes from the airport all the way to Otaru (and further, i think). the other one is the Ishikari Line, a commuter line. we took the Ishikari Line today, which was a little more than 30 minutes. the train basically went along the shoreline all the way to Otaru. so, on the right side, there was almost always water, and on the left side, forrested mountain cliffs. and there were many cute small stations along with blooming flowerbeds.
instead having the forward-facing seats, the commuter line looks like this…
at the Otaru station, we were greeted with these rows of pretty lamps put up near the windows. They must look amazing at night.
Otaru is known for their glass-art work, their victorian-style canal, and their seafood. the town was very cute! for me, it has the same feel as Melaka… it has an area that’s very pretty, photogenic and has an old/vintage feel, and unfortunately very touristy at the same time.
before we embarked on the quest around the town, we went to our hotel, the Smile Hotel, to drop our stuff. on this leg of the journey, we got lucky. the large tatami room at the Smile Hotel was still available, so we got a Japanese room with a very affordable price. and we all could stay in the same room, instead of being separated into two rooms. it was perfect for the first night together.
we also got free fresh milk from the hotel! their bottles were so cute, i ended up bringing one home. oops.
we first visited their tourist center to grab the tourist map. the woman who worked at the center showed us the route and the buildings to see along the way, and suggested us to see the Glass-work Museum and the Music Box Museum at the end of the route, and try their famous cheesecake (there were 5 cafes that sell these cheesecakes along the route). she also told us to hurry, because it was already 3pm, and the museum is closing at 6pm… uh oh!
first, of course we had to take pictures of the famous canal. however, it turned out that the canal was very short! it was pretty, but wasn’t as majestic and impressive as those in the pictures we found on the internet. i guess the canal was very photogenic, because our photos turned out better than in real life… hehe.
on the sidewalk next to the canal, there were local artists hanging out, painting and selling their work in the form of prints and postcards. some of them were selling their photographs of Otaru, some were doing and selling their craftwork. so, of course we gotta buy something from them.
after that, we walked the path suggested by the lady at the tourist centre. we were first greeted with these small food shops. it’s like a bunch of street food stalls jammed into one small street corner. the alleys were super narrow but highly decorated. there were yakitori, crepes and the other typical street foods.
after that it opened up to a looooong street with mix of old and new buildings on each sides. there were vintage Japanese shop fronts right next to European style buildings. all of the shops were tiny — some were colorful, some were in classic black and white. there were random artworks, sculptures and water fountains on the sidewalk, by the windows, or in between the shops. everything was just so cute!
Otaru is also known for their fresh sushi, like Uni. their manhole cover is so cute… it’s a relief of two beavers. from what i heard, beavers’s favorite food is sea urchin, which is what uni sushi is made of… and where the manhole cover originated from.
we also passed sooooo many cafes and restaurants that serves cute little desserts or fresh sushi (like uni! very fresh uni!!). but since the lady said that the Music Box Museum is closing at 6, we decided to keep going and skipped the food. looking back, i think we should’ve taken our time and hung out at those cafes and restaurants. they seemed very yummy!
we then got to the end of the road, where the Music Box Museum was. it turned out that it wasn’t exactly a museum. it was a(nother!) store that sells thousands of music boxes. i guess they are music-box-makers. the building and the surroundings were very pretty, though. so it was worth to see.
and right next to the museum building, there was a tiny house that made bears. the whole house was filled with bears… and between the museum and the house, there was a giganting glass “music-box” with huuuuge bears inside playing musical instruments. now that’s amusing!
now that we were at the end of the road, i wish we had stayed here longer… because everything was closed at exactly 6PM! not only the Music Box Museum, but also the sushi places, the cute cafes… every single food joint! so, by the time we were done with the Music Box Museum, we got nothing to eat! oh no!
the only thing we got to eat was the dried squid that Ditha bought during our walk earlier. the shop sold all kinds of dried marine animals snacks, like spicy tiny scallops, crispy tiny crabs, etc. we found out later that these kind of snacks was very popular in Hokkaido, as we found them sold in tourist gift stores all over the island.
we had such a hard time finding a place to eat after 6. we were hungry and our legs had turned to jellies from walking so much, but we couldn’t find any cafes or restaurants… all those we passed by earlier had closed.
so, if you plan to come to visit Otaru, remember, you only have until 6PM. after that, the town shuts down… at least during the summer. if you want to take your time hanging out in cafes, drinking coffee and eating their yummy-looking cheesecakes, i think it’s better if you have one whole day there.
anyways, we finally found this seafood restaurant located right above a fish shop that was still open. i think they were closing at 7PM, but we got there 15 min before their closing time, and they were kind enough to let us in.
and that was the best tasting scallops i’ve ever had… maybe it was my hungry self talking. it was sooooo goood!
after dinner, we were all beaten by all the walking, and went straight to the hotel… and crashed. we had to sleep early anyway, because we had to catch an 8am train tomorrow.
The rest of the photos are in the Otaru 2015 photo album.
Other entries of this trip is at Hokkaido Trip Summer 2015.