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Where In The World (Japan) – Otaru, A Hidden Gem

Otaru Location Map

If you’re reading this, it’s because no one guessed the mystery city. It’s called Otaru. (It was actually on the map that I put on the post for the first week.) Otaru is about a 20-30 minute train ride from Sapporo, the largest city on the northern island of Hokkaido, and is home to many people who work in Sapporo. As I mentioned in last week’s post, Sapporo has its internationally-acclaimed Snow Festival every February. Otaru runs a concurrent snow festival at the same time as Sapporo, adding to the overall attractions that draw a few million tourists each year.



However, Otaru has a relaxed feel that makes a visit at any time of year a good idea.










Otaru is known for many things. I mentioned the sushi in Week 2. (Click here to see the Week 2 post.) More than the sushi, it is known for its food overall and even its own brand of beer. It also boasts a confectionary, called LeTAO, that is famous all over Hokkaido.







Otaru Canal


It is known for a canal that runs through the city.







It is also known for glass blowing. Tourists can pay a fee at a glass shop to create their own items. Shops hold glass blowing shows.

My favorite attraction, though, is the Otaru Music Box Museum. No visit to the area is complete without it. The two-story structure is in a brick building over 100 years old. Visitors can build their own music box in addition to viewing music boxes from history. (The woman in the middle picture is my MIL. My boys call her Obaachan.)



In front of the museum is a steam clock. It was made by a Canadian clock maker. The chiming is well known.

Otaru Music Box Museum



Lastly, on our visit to Japan, I’ll leave you with one final picture of my smiling boys. The music box museum and clock are in the background. Hope you enjoyed the tour.


Otaru Map courtesy of Canal picture courtesy of Music box museum picture front courtesy of


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Walt Mussell primaily writes historical fiction with inspirational and romantic elements. His favorite setting is medieval Japan and he refers to his  writing as “Like ‘Shogun,’ but the heroine survives.” He also writes Biblical fiction and is working on a manuscript with a 19th century American setting. He has one published novella in the Christmas anthology, Hot Cocoa for the Heart.


Marilyn Baron - April 25, 2014 - 3:31 am

I really enjoyed this post and the whole month. I loved the

Marilyn Baron - April 25, 2014 - 3:34 am

I loved the pictures and learning about new places.

Mary Preston - April 25, 2014 - 3:40 am

It does look lovely there.

Walt Mussell - April 25, 2014 - 7:00 am

Marilyn, glad you enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun writing about it.

Walt Mussell - April 25, 2014 - 7:01 am

Mary, if you ever get the chance to go, you should go.

Pam Asberry - April 25, 2014 - 7:54 am

Wow, this sounds like a place I would love to visit. Local beer AND a music box museum, ha! I have enjoyed your travel posts, Walt. Thank you!

Piper - April 25, 2014 - 8:25 am

Wonderful posts, Walt. I learned a lot and saw the lovely pics of your family. The music box museum looks like a great deal of fun. You set a high standard for travel posts!

Walt Mussell - April 25, 2014 - 9:27 am

Pam, Otaru is a great place. We spent a week in Hokkaido on our last visit. It’s not enough, but we could only spend two weeks in Japan.

Walt Mussell - April 25, 2014 - 9:28 am

Piper, it was a labor of love. I haven’t been to Japan since 2008. Wish I could go back to visit.

Maxine Davis - April 25, 2014 - 10:41 am

Walt, I have thoroughly enjoyed “visiting” Japan through your posts. They were excellent and now I really would like to visit it first hand. Thank you for a great “trip.”

Walt Mussell - April 25, 2014 - 12:40 pm

Maxine, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun reminiscing.

Carol Burnside - April 26, 2014 - 3:54 pm

Interesting post, Walt. This makes Japan become a little more familiar to me, however odd that may sound. ;-)

Debbie Kaufman - April 30, 2014 - 10:03 am

Wow, how cool is that–Build your own music box, blow your own glass creation. Sounds like fun. I’ve seen demonstrations but never such a hands-on approach for visitors. Hope to see it some day. Thanks for the tour :)

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