After a tiring day of non-stop snowboarding & skiing in Niseko, we left our hotel in the evening heading to our next destination which is Otaru. You can read our previous Hakodate (Part 1) and Lake Toya & Niseko (Part 2).
Otaru is a small port city northwest of Sapporo on Ishikari Bay. famous for its beautifully preserved canal & filled with plenty old warehouses that have been converted to well decorated commercial shops. It is said Otaru has more than 100 sushi shops making it one of the best place to indulge sushi at a reasonable price in Hokkaido.
The journey from Niseko to Otaru took us approx 2 hours. Although driving in the evening, we still find it a comfortable drive albeilt we were driving slower than the speed limit. We arrived Otaru at night and checked in to our Airbnb accommodation. (Extra RM60 discount when you sign up Airbnb HERE).
Otaru is very compact and you can reach most attractions by walk. Hence driving is not really needed here unless you plan to visit outskirt such as Nikka Distillery.
The Otaru Canal (小樽運河) was an important link for smaller boats to load goods & transport them to the warehouse from large vessels in the first half of the 20th century. However, when modern docking facilities were introduced, the canal became obsolete & now has become the main attraction of Otaru.
When visiting Otaru, remember to come with an empty stomach as you will be eating throughout the day here. Like Penang, one day is insufficient to try all their famous delicacies, attraction wise you can complete within a day.
We started our food journey with a visit to Waraku Kaiten Sushi located just opposite the Otaru Canal. Frequented mainly by locals & ad hoc tourists like us, Waraku offers a wide range of sushi at a reasonable price.
Flying all the way to Japan, we intended to gobble up as many Chutoro & Otoro as we can. Both are rarely available in Malaysia, very expensive & poorer in quality. Chutoro & Otoro is the belly part of Tuna which literally melts in your mouth. If you love salmon, Chutoro & Otoro offers more satisfaction.
Just a quick note, Chutoro is medium fatty belly while Otoro is the fattiest belly. Depending on each outlet sometimes Chutoro tastes better than Otoro or vice versa.
Another main attraction to visit in Otaru is Sakaimachi Street where all the famous shops such as Music Box Museum, Le Tao Cafe, Kitakaro 北菓楼, Rokkatei 六花亭 (overrated) are located.
There are also plenty of fresh seafood vendors offering fresh seafood such as King Crab & scallops. Once purchased, they will grill it immediately for your consumption.
LeTao, a fairly new pastry shop opened in 1998 is renowned for their very addictive Double Fromage cheesecake. Originate in Otaru, their flagship store is along Sakaimachi street.
There is no LeTao cafe in Sapporo or Chitose, only takeaway store. Hence Otaru is the place you can dine in LeTao cafe.
The Double Fromage Cheesecake consists of 2 layers. The upper layer is light & milky unbaked cheesecake while the bottom is made of soft yet rich cheesecake.
After Otaru, the last & final stop of our Hokkaido trip will be Sapporo. With 4 nights in Sapporo, we are ensured we can relax & in no rush to cover its attractions.
We have started to blog our Hokkaido Self Drive Trip, feel free to read the blog for our full travel experiences in Hokkaido.
- 11 Days 9 Nights Hokkaido Self Drive Trip – Shin Chitose & Hakodate (Part 1)
- 11 Days 9 Nights Hokkaido Self Drive Trip – Lake Toya & Niseko (Part 2)
- 11 Days 9 Nights Hokkaido Self Drive Trip – Otaru (Part 3)
- 11 Days 9 Nights Hokkaido Self Drive Trip – Sapporo (Part 4)
- 15 Must Visit Attractions & Food in Hakodate, Hokkaido
- Noboribetsu & Shiraoi
- Kushiro, Lake Akan & Lake Mashu
Hokkaido Car Rental
We did a self-drive trip in Hokkaido which we were glad we did especially during winter and visiting small cities. Driving made our trip much more comfortable and convenient. We rented our Car Rental online from ToCoo!
If you are planning to drive a few days, rent from companies that offer Hokkaido Highway Pass which allows unlimited expressway with fix fare on certain highways. Do note not all car rental companies offer this.
Note: An international driving license is needed to rent a car in Japan.