While I was spending the summer in Sapporo in Hokkaido, the Otaru daytrip was promoted to me as the Japanese Netherlands, in that it had ‘canals’. Japanese tourists from all over Japan who flew in to cool down in the north would go to Otaru in expectation that it would offer a bit of European charm. When cruise ships arrive in Hokkaido, they arrive in Otaru.

So, naturally, I had to go have a look. Unfortunately, it looks nothing like the Dutch canals. It’s some clever marketing of a pretty run down and not very appealing single “canal”. The tourists love it, for reasons that I fail to understand.

But, not all is lost, walking around Otaru offers some old school Japanese building, and the biggest highlight for me was, yet again, another cable car going up the Otaru mountains for some panoramic views of the northern Hokkaido coast.


Let’s start with the canals, just so we can cross that off the list…





And make our way up the real attraction…




With some great views of the mountains in the area…





And mountain top temples…







I’ve had better daytrip from Sapporo around Hokkaido, but I guess that if you have some spare time and are already doing a car trip through the western parts of Hokkaido you can spend an hour or so to see the Japanese interpretation of Dutch canals. There are so many wonderful things to explore in Hokkaido, if you’re pressed for time – better do those other things first.

Tags: cable car; canal; canals; day trip; Hokkaido; Japan; mountain; Otaru; Sapporo; visions;

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