While we were staying in Sapporo recently, we opted for a day trip to Otaru, Japan. We heard from several travelers that it was a great side trip and the Otaru Snow Light Path Festival is definitely worth seeing. We were very fortunate in our timing as the festival would end on February 12 – just days after our stay.
From Sapporo it’s really quite easy to hop on a train with the JR Rail Pass. Twenty five minutes after leaving Sapporo Station we arrived at the small seaside town of Otaru. It didn’t seem like much at first as we followed the crowds down to the canal. As we walked down there were snow sculptures scattered along the streets – some really ornate and creative.
My daughter loved it in the daylight, even before they were all lit up. By darkness the streets and canal area were jam-packed and almost impossible to see. I would definitely recommend going during the day and getting out before the throngs of people arrive.
My favorite area was Sakaimachi Street. There is lots of shopping – with many stores selling glass items, Japanese souvenirs, and seafood related items like dried squid. There are also lots of good places to eat and even some places where you pick your seafood and they cook it. I found the seafood to be a little expensive and small portions.
Our favorite stop was the chocolate shop LeTao. They give out free samples and I was hooked at one bite. It was probably the best chocolate I have ever had – and I have had a lot of good chocolate. We also bought some ice cream and it was divine!
If you are looking for something more cultural, check out the Music Box Museum, the Museum of Venetian Art, the Bank of Japan Museum or glass-making workshops. My daughter loved the extensive collection at the Music Box Museum.
Our day trip to Otaru was so wonderful. We highly recommend that you put it on your list for things to do in Hokkaido, Japan. Two thumbs up from a mom and her five-year old!