2012 Japan Trip Day 9 – Otaru

Date of Travel: 07/02/2012

After spending the previous day among the crowds of Sapporo, we headed west towards thesmall town of Otaru by train. We had a few things planned, but I underestimated the traveling time. By the time we got there it was almost lunchtime, so we decided to spend most of the afternoon wandering around Sakai Machi Street. As many paths were covered in slippery snow slush, I decided to purchase grips for my shoes. Along the way, many shops had built cute snowmen and animals outside their entrances, which really gave the town a lot of life.

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Otaru is well known for its glassware and music box products, both of which added to the Winter Wonderland feel to the place. We did some window shopping before deciding on lunch. There were only a handful of places opened for lunch along Sakai Machi Street, but we managed to find a place where I could have a very decent bowl of seafood on rice for a reasonable price. We did some shopping after lunch. I bought a music box for my dad’s birthday, while Brownie bought some beautiful cups.

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We got so carried away with window shopping that nightfall kicked in before we noticed! It was really only after dark did the beauty of Otaru really sink in. Many of the street lamps were turned on, giving a lonely and bittersweet atmosphere to its surroundings.

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We slowly walked towards Unga Kaijo, which is located at Otaru Canal. This was one of the sites of the Otaru Snow Light Path festival which is usually held in conjunction with the Sapporo Snow Festival. This area featured a path along the canal which visitors can walk along which is lit up by ice lanterns. Lanterns were hung across the canal just above the water’s surface, and large icicles hung from old warehouses on the other side of the canal. A heavy fall of snow occurred while we were moving along the path, which gave off a surreal feeling that we were in a dream. At the end of the path were several shelters made from snow, and a cluster of ice lanterns around each other.

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We continued towards the other site of the festival at Temiyasen Kaijo. This site is based along an abandoned train track. There were slides for kids at the beginning of the path, and beautiful display of lanterns and snow sculptures along the way. Finding the words to describe the elegant beauty of it all is impossible, so I will let the photos speak for themselves.

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On the way back to the train station, we decided to look for some food since it will be quite late by the time we arrive back in Sapporo. We found a restaurant along a shopping arcade near Sakai Machi Street. It was a good meal and was good to get some warmth after being in the cold for well over an hour or two. We then took a packed train back towards Sapporo for the night after what was perhaps the most relaxing yet magical day thus far.

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Daily Expenditure
1) TRANSPORT
Train from Sapporo JR Station to Otaru – 620 yen
Train from Otaru to Sapporo JR Station – 620 yen

2) ACCOMMODATION
Nakamuraya Ryokan – 5,775 yen

3) FOOD
Breakfast from convenience store at Sapporo JR Station – 402 yen [Pokari Sweat, custard pastry and kitsune sushi]
Lunch along Sakai Machi Street – 2,000 yen [Seafood-don]
Dinner at shopping arcade near Sakai Machi Street – 1,530 yen [Nigiri sushi and Katsu]

4) ATTRACTIONS
N/A ~All free~

5) OTHERS
Music Box from Kaimeiro– 2,205 yen
Snow grip for shoes – 740 yen
Laundry – 167 yen

TOTAL (cost for whole trip in brackets)
14,059 yen (239,086 yen total)

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