Otaru Canal

Otaru Canal

Travel Guide

Otaru Canal is a popular tourist destination for Japanese and foreign visitors who flock to the canal year round to enjoy its nostalgic atmosphere. Otaru Canal started operation in 1924, and it was probably the main reason for Otaru's prosperity as a center of commerce. Now it is a major tourist attraction for lovers who like to stroll the canal, with its gas lamps and former warehouses. The warehouses now house excellent seafood restaurants and souvenir shops. Whatever time or season you visit this spot, you will certainly appreciate its history.

Otaru Canal, 1140m in length and 40m in width, was completed in 1923 after nine years of construction work which started in 1914.

The warehouse built with red bricks line up along the canal, have told the early prosperity of Otaru, the prosperity which can be compared with the Wall Street in New York. Following on the heels of the Bank of Japan, many major banks trading firms opened offices in Otaru, and the city grew as the Wall Street of the North. The name of the city comes from the Ainu word otarunai, which means a river flowing through a sandy beach. When time changes and the mission of Otaru Canal tell the end, banks have been turned into restaurants, shops, and museums, to show the early romantic atmosphere.

The canal is an ideal place to enjoy a pleasant stroll during the day. Asakusa Bridge is the start point of Otaru Canal and 1,120m of stone-paved promenade was built alongside. In the walkway, there are relieves which record the history of Otaru and monuments, artists present their works to passing tourists. Old fashioned gas lamps installed on the both side of canal light the path at night creating a romantic atmosphere. The Otaru Canal is about 5-10 mins walk straight down the main road from Otaru St.

At the early 20th century, the canal was built to allow small ships to transport goods to the warehouses. Around that time, the canal was crowded with barges carrying coal or marine products and many stone warehouses were built to store these goods. But after the piers were built at Otaru Port, enabling goods to be carried directly from ships onto trucks, the canal fell into disuse and the water became stale and smelly.

Land filling of the canal was planned in the 1980's, but thanks to a citizens movement, in 1986, although part of the canal was filled in, but half of width became road, and walk road and town garden were reborn in maintained current figure, and the remaining warehouses turned into museums, shops and restaurants.  

The way from the Otaru Station to the canal, also covers shopping alley, shops selling foodstuffs, king crab, live seafood, etc.


Travel Advice


- The Victorian-style street lamps are the symbol of Otaru Canal. The lighting time start from the evening till 24:00. The time of light up of warehouses starts from the evening till 22:30.

- If you want to shop, close to Otaru Canal is the Otaru Visitor Product Plaza. Visitors can fine recommended local food and get tourist information here. Hours 09:00 - 18:00 (July and August 09:00 - 19:00).

- It is cold in the winter in Otaru. Visitors need to be sure to ware enough cloth.

- It will be enough to spend only an afternoon to do the sightseeing on foot in Otaru if you just want to visit Otaru Canal, Kitaichi Glass and other main attractions in Otaru.



Address Minatomachi, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido
Phone 0134-33-2510 (Otaru Tourist Assosiation)
Admission Free  
Hours Free time  
Closed Open 7 Days a Week
Duration 30 minutes
Getting There By Train
10 minute walk from JR Otaru Station.

By Car
Take Sasson Expressway to the Otaru exit. It is approximately 10 minutes from exit.
Parking No parking available

Attractions in Japan