History and Literature of Otaru.
14 Historical Sites.


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The history of Otaru dates back to the late Edo period, when a village was established by people who migrated to the area in search of herring. From that time onwards, the Kitamae-bune, which was known as a general trading company of the sea, also began to come to Otaru. Many daily commodities were brought into Hokkaido, while at the same time an abundance of seafood was transported to Honshu.

Port of Otaru in the Meiji era.

In the Meiji era (1868-1912), the port was positioned as the most important port for the development of Hokkaido, and many financial institutions moved into the area, leading to its continued prosperity. In the Taisho era (1912-1926), the sea was reclaimed and a waterway was built to facilitate efficient transport. This was the Otaru Canal.

Otaru Canal in the Taisho era

As time went on and the distribution hub moved to other cities, the Otaru Canal became a useless waterway. After the mid-Showa period, plans were made to reclaim the Otaru Canal. The citizens' campaign to preserve the Otaru Canal attracts national attention and makes Otaru a household name throughout the country.

Meeting of the Otaru Canal Preservation Movement

Today, Otaru has become a tourist city where visitors from all over the country flock to see the half-remains of the Otaru Canal. Otaru, which faced various stormy waves during the transition from the late Edo period to the Meiji, Taisho, Showa, Heisei and now 2025, still has many historical assets left to this day.

The Otaru Canal today

History and Literature of Otaru.
14 Historical Sites.

History and Literature of Otaru.
14 Historical Sites.

1.History and Literature of Otaru.
The Bank of Japan Otaru Museum


The Otaru Branch of the Bank of Japan, located in Ironai, Otaru City (now the Financial Archives), was designed by Kingo Tatsuno, the designer of the famous red-brick Tokyo Station, and his apprentice Upeiji Nagano, and was completed in July of 1902 (45th year of Meiji). At the time, Otaru was home to numerous bank branches, and the area around Shikinai Boulevard was known as the "Wall Street of the North. Among them, this building was particularly unique in its presence. ...More

The Bank of Japan Otaru Museum

Facility name
The Bank of Japan Otaru Museum
Adress
〒047-0031 1-11-16, Shikouchi, Otaru, Hokkaido
Phone
0134-21-1111
Opening hours
09:30〜17:00
Regular closing day
Wednesday
Website.
> Click here to visit our website.



2.History and Literature of Otaru.
Otaru Municipal Museum of Literature


Otaru is the second oldest port town in Hokkaido after Hakodate, and was once a very prosperous gateway to the Hokkaido economy. Otaru's old streets and stately architecture throughout the city remind us of its prosperity in those days. In terms of culture, talented young men and women from all over the country gathered in Otaru and engaged in friendly competition, producing many outstanding writers, including Takiji Kobayashi and Sei Ito. ...More

Otaru Municipal Museum of Literature

Facility name
Otaru Municipal Museum of Literature
Adress
〒047-0031  1-9-5 Shikinai, Otaru City, Hokkaido
Phone
0134-32-2388
Opening hours
09:30〜17:00
Regular closing day
Monday
Website.
> Click here to visit our website.



3.History and Literature of Otaru.
The old Otaru banking district


Moreover, the various architectural styles of each period, from the Meiji Period's 113th and Bank of Japan to the former Savings Bureau (Municipal Museum of Art and Literature), a pioneer of post-war modern architecture, are lined up in a narrow 500 m radius by leading designers. ...More

The old Otaru banking district

Facility name
The Bank of Japan Otaru Museum
Adress
〒047-0031 1-11-16, Shikouchi, Otaru City
Phone
0134-21-1111
Opening hours
9:30~17:00(December to March. 10:00〜)
Regular closing day
Wednesday
Website.
> Click here to visit our website.



4.History and Literature of Otaru.
Otaru Canal


Otaru Port played an important role as the gateway to Hokkaido from the Meiji Period to the early Showa Period.Barges were used to unload cargo from large vessels docked in the port, but as the amount of cargo handled increased, barge traffic congestion became a problem. ...More

Otaru Canal

Facility name
Otaru Canal
Adress
〒047-0007 5 Minatomachi, Otaru City, Otaru Canal
Opening hours
Walking is possible throughout the year
Regular closing day
Walking is possible throughout the year
Website.
> Click here to visit our website.



5.History and Literature of Otaru.
Otaru City Museum Main Pavilion


The Otaru City Museum has two facilities: the Main Museum Pavilion and the Canal Pavilion; the two facilities are about a 20-minute walk apart. The Main Museum was newly opened in July 2007, integrating the functions of the Museum and the Youth Science and Technology Museum in the former Otaru Transportation Memorial Hall located in Temiya. At the same time, the former museum, located in the "Former Otaru Warehouse" along the Otaru Canal, was renamed the Unga-kan.  ...More

Otaru City Museum Main Pavilion

Facility name
Otaru City Museum Main Pavilion
Adress
〒047-0041 1-3-6 Temiya, Otaru City, Hokkaido
Phone
0134-33-2523
Opening hours
09:30〜17:00
Regular closing day
The New Year's holiday(12月29日〜1月3日)
Website.
> Click here to visit our website.



6.History and Literature of Otaru.
Otaru City Museum Canal Pavilion


The Otaru City Museum has two facilities: the Main Museum Building and the Canal Pavilion; the two facilities are about a 20-minute walk apart. The Main Museum was newly opened in July 2007 (Heisei 19), integrating the functions of the Museum and the Youth Science and Technology Museum in the former Otaru Transportation Memorial Hall located in Temiya. At the same time, the former museum, which had been located in the "Former Otaru Warehouse" along the Otaru Canal, was renamed the Ungakukan. ...More

Otaru City Museum Canal Pavilion

Facility name
Otaru City Museum Canal Pavilion
Adress
1-20, Shikouchi 2-chome, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido 047-0031, Japan
Phone
0134-22-1258
Opening hours
09;30〜17:00
Regular closing day
Year-end and New Year's Eve (December 29 to January 3)
Website.
> Click here to visit our website.



7.History and Literature of Otaru.
Former Otaru Warehouse


The former Otaru Warehouse, with its conspicuous orca-shaped orcas along the Otaru Canal, is one of the most representative buildings in Otaru, a city with many historical buildings.It was built in 1890 by Nishiya and Nishide of Kaga Hashidate on the southern beach of Otaru Port, where land reclamation had just been completed.Later, due to the Nishide family's circumstances, the warehouse was managed by Kyuemon Yamamoto (2nd generation), who had also sought a base in Otaru on the Kitamae Senpaku(cargo ships that sailed the Japan Sea during the Edo period), and the Otaru warehouse was enlarged and reconstructed in the shape of the present "B" and became a large warehouse covering 3,000 . ...More

Former Otaru Warehouse

Facility name
Otaru Department Store UNGA↑
Adress
〒047-0031 2-1-20 Ironai, Otaru City
Phone
0134-65-8150
Opening hours
11:00~18:00
Regular closing day
None
Website.
> Click here to visit our website.



Otaru Department Store UNGA↑

Otaru Department Store UNGA↑ offers original products carrying the history and culture that still remain in Otaru, as well as good products from the Kitamae Ship's port of call, from the "Old Otaru Warehouse Main Depot," the first business warehouse in Hokkaido built by the Kitamae Ship owners, Sonzaemon Nishide and Shohachi Nishitani.

Otaru Department Store UNGA↑

8.History and Literature of Otaru.
Otaru Port North Breakwater


Located on the eastern side of the Shakotan Peninsula in western Hokkaido, Otaru Port is a natural harbour surrounded by mountains to the north, west and south. 1869 (Meiji 2), when the Meiji Government established the Kaitakushi (Hokkaido Development Office), renamed Ezochi as Hokkaido and designated Sapporo as the main town for construction, Otaru Port became a strategic point for the development of Hokkaido. ...More

Otaru Port North Breakwater

Facility name
Otaru Port North Breakwater
Adress
〒047-0048 1-2 Takashima, Otaru, Hokkaido.
Opening hours
24 hours
Regular closing day
None



9.History and Literature of Otaru.
Warehouses in the North Canal


The northern part of the Otaru Canal, which runs in a north-south curve, is commonly known as the "North Canal.The 40m width of the canal, which still remains as it was when it was first constructed, is reminiscent of the scene when fishing boats and cruisers were moored and barges were crowded together. ...More

Warehouses in the North Canal

Facility name
PRESSCAFE
Adress
〒047-0031 3-3-21 Ironai, Otaru City, Hokkaido
Phone
0134-24-8028
Opening hours
11:30〜22:00
Regular closing day
Thursday
Website.
> Click here to visit our website.



10.History and Literature of Otaru.
Former Otaru Branch of NYK Line Ltd.


The former Otaru branch of the NYK Line, with its opulent appearance, evokes the prosperity of Otaru in the Meiji era. It was built in October 1906 by Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK Line), which is still the core company of the Mitsubishi Group. As one of Japan's three major shipping companies, it is well known overseas and is still called the representative of Japanese shipping.At the time, Otaru was the base of the national Hokkaido development project and was expanding its commercial port functions for Europe. At the same time, financial institutions and trading companies were active in Otaru, which was known as the 'Wall Street of the North', and many buildings were constructed by leading architects that showcased the best of their skills. ...More

Former Otaru Branch of NYK Line Ltd.

Facility name
Former Otaru Branch of NYK Line Ltd.
Adress
〒047-0031 3-7-8, Ironai, Otaru, Hokkaido
Phone
0134-22-3316
Opening hours
Closed until March 2024 for conservation and repair work.
Regular closing day
Closed until March 2024 for conservation and repair work.
Website.
> Click here to visit our website.



11.History and Literature of Otaru.
Otaru Nishin Goten


In the first half of the Meiji period, the main industry in Hokkaido was herring fishing, which produced a larger amount of herring than the coal mining industry, which later became a major industry.From the early Meiji period, set-net fishing operators built unique buildings that served both as dormitories for many fishermen and as residences for the fishermen's bosses (masters).In particular, the fishermen who fished in areas isolated from the village built huge buildings. ...More

Otaru Nishin Goten

Facility name
Otaru Nishin Goten
Adress
〒047-0047 3-228 Shukutsu, Otaru City, Hokkaido
Phone
0134-22-1038
Opening hours
9:00~17:00 (closing hours may change depending on the season)
Regular closing day
Winter holidays
Website.
> Click here to visit our website.



12.History and Literature of Otaru.
Northern Coal Loader foundation site


Just a short distance from the quay of Otaru Harbour in Temiya, an ageing mass of concrete peeks out of the water. Grass grows on it and sea birds rest their wings.This is the foundation of a machine called the 'Hokutan loader', which was built in 1939 to load coal onto ships.The traces of the Port of Otaru, which was the base for the development of Hokkaido and where coal was loaded, are also a component of the Japanese Heritage Site 'Coal and Iron Port'. ...More

Northern Coal Loader foundation site

Facility name
Northern Coal Loader foundation site
Adress
〒047-0041 1-4-1, Temiya, Otaru, Hokkaido
Website.
> Click here to visit our website.



13.History and Literature of Otaru.
Former Temiya Line


The abandoned ruins of the Former Temiya Line, located a 10-minute walk from JR Otaru Station, has become a popular tourist attraction in Otaru. The first railroad in Hokkaido and the third in Japan to transport coal, the line was opened from Temiya to Sapporo in 1881 by an American railroad engineer, Joseph Uley Crawford.After prospering as a coal and marine products shipper, the line was nationalized in 1906 and served as a means of transportation for the people of the province until the late Showa period (1926-1989), when it was closed down in November 1985. ...More

Former Temiya Line

Facility name
Former Temiya Line
Opening hours
Walking is possible throughout the day except in winter when there is snowfall.
Regular closing day
Walking is possible throughout the day except in winter when there is snowfall.



14.History and Literature of Otaru.
Otaru City Noh Theater(Former Okazaki Family Noh Stage)


The Otaru City Noh Theater (former Okazaki Family Noh Stage) was built in Otaru City, Hokkaido in 1926 for Noh performances.It is a building of high historical and cultural value, with the highest standards of dignity for a Noh stage established in the Edo period.Ken Okazaki, a native of Sado who was a successful grain merchant and a city councilor who contributed to Otaru City, built this shrine in his residence in 1926.The wood used for the structure includes 2.4-meter diameter Jindai cedar from Sado Island, Japanese cypress from Kyushu, and pine from Hokkaido. The pine tree on the mirror panel and the bamboo at the cut door were painted by Mochinobu Kano, the 17th head of the Kano School, who spent a total of two months in Otaru. ...More

Otaru City Noh Theater(Former Okazaki Family Noh Stage)

Facility name
Otaru City Noh Theater(Former Okazaki Family Noh Stage)
Adress
〒047-0024 Otaru City Public Hall, 5-2-1 Hanazono, Otaru City
Phone
0134-22-2796
Opening hours
Open to the public from June to early September
Website.
> Click here to visit our website.



Otaru Department Store UNGA↑

From Otaru, the city of shipping, comes good fortune...
The uninterrupted and protected flow is on our side.
May your luck open up too.

Otaru flourished as the gateway to the development of Hokkaido during the Meiji period.
Kitamae-bune ships flapped their pure white sails on the ocean, bringing many goods and culture to this area through traffic to and from Honshu.

Otaru Department Store UNGA↑ offers original products carrying the history and culture that still remain in Otaru, as well as good products from the port of call of the Kitamae Ship, from the former Otaru warehouse, the first business warehouse in Hokkaido built by the Kitamae Ship owners, Sonzaemon Nishide and Shohachi Nishitani.

The story of Otaru, which lived together with the Kitamae Senpaku, is told from this location.

We look forward to serving you with an assortment of original items that can only be found here and that will be appreciated as souvenirs.

▷Click here for more information on Otaru Department Store UNGA↑

Otaru Department Store UNGA↑ Facility name
Otaru Department Store UNGA↑
Adress
〒047-0027 2-1-20 Shikinai, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido
Phone
0134-65-8150
Opening hours
11:00〜18:00
Regular closing day
without a holiday
Website
>Click here to visit our website.



Otaru Travel Guide Category List

First recommendation for Otaru. Shop on Otaru North Canal. Highlights of the North Canal. Spectacular view of Otaru. Spiritual place in Otaru. Delicious restrants in Otaru. History and literature of Otaru. Historic buildings in Otaru. Glass of Otaru. Gifts and Souvenirs from Otaru First trip to Otaru|3hour tour course|Touring Otaru First trip to Otaru|6hour tour course|Touring Otaru First trip to Otaru|1day tour course|Touring Otaru First trip to Otaru|2day tour course|Touring Otaru
Otaru Street Walking Map

Otaru Canal Walking Guide