Otaru This & That

Seeking Cool Air by Taking Sightseeing Boat

Although Hokkaido’s summer is short and the average temperatures are lower compared with other areas of Japan, many people go and enjoy sea bathing at this time of year.

It can be nice to spend a hot sunny day on one of the nice beaches of Otaru, but how about a boat ride to enjoy the view of spectacular coastline consisting of strange rocks while exposing yourself to the pleasant summer breeze?

Various courses are provided for cruising. For example, if you visit Otaru Aquarium, taking a boat either to or from will add more fun.

30th Anniversary of Sister City Friendship

It has been 30 years since Otaru and Dunedin in New Zealand established a sister city relationship.

During Ushio Festival period last week, the delegation of about 20 people including the Mayor visited Otaru to celebrate the 30th anniversary of our friendship.

Some members of the delegation came to Otaru for the first time, and they enjoyed their stay in their sister city that has many geographical and historical similarities to their city, Dunedin.

They participated in Ushio Dance procession that's the highlight of the festival on the 24th, and enjoyed fireworks display on the 25th

The 44th Otaru Ushio Festival Open

Otaru Ushio Festival is a movable festival that is held on the final Friday, Saturday and Sunday of July every year.

It is the biggest summer festival that concludes Otaru's festival season.

The highlight of this festival is the dance procession called 'Ushio Nerikomi' on the 24th.

Thousand of people in Yukata or summer cotton kimono dance in a parade without interruption between 13:00-21:00. 

There is a group 'Tobiiri DE Odoritai'open for all comers to dance in the parade. It is going to start from Hanazono Green Road around 14:30.

Cool Confection

In Japan, heat wave is covering over the sky this week, and many cities are experiencing extremely hot weather.

One of the means to cool yourself is to enjoy "Wagashi" or Japanese confection.

Wagashi is always made according to the seasonal theme, and in summer, confectioners make Wagashi evoking cool impression.

It is not the direct method to cool you, like ice cream, but it brings visual coolness that makes you forget the heat for a moment.

On the left is expressing sweetfish in the river.

Key to Finding Real Attractiveness of Otaru

If you would like to see what Otaru is really like, I recommend you to walk around the city at random, especially Temiya, Ironai and Minami Otaru areas.

You can come across interesting objects or scenes that you cannot find in the areas just for tourists.

An undulating slope

Three vivid colors

Otaru's Dainty

Most tourists visiting Otaru seem to think Otaru’s delicacy = fresh seafood, and
Naturally, they go to one of many sushi restaurants to eat fine sushi or other seafood dishes.

It is certainly true that Otaru’s sushi is very good, but Italian food in Otaru is also as good as sushi. Fresh agricultural and marine products are essential for Italian cuisine, and Otaru is in an advantageous location that those ingredients of good quality are available with ease.

There are many nice Italian restaurants in Otaru, but this time, I would like to introduce “Namaraya” among them.

Sumiyoshi Shrine Festival

Sumiyoshi Shrine is the shrine of guardian deities of Otaru, and its annual festival is held 14-16 July.

On the Festival Eve (14th), ‘Shinto music and dance to dedicate to the deities was performed at the main sanctuary of the shrine. Dancers were all children, and their dancing was filled with solemn beauty.

On the 15th, the main festival day, ‘Mikoshi’, gorgeous portable shrines go around the city in procession throughout the day. The biggest portable shrine carried by many Mikoshi carriers will go around the shrine areas between 19:00 and 21:00.

Fireworks T-shirt

Otaru’s fireworks display is held as the finale of Ushio Festival on the final Sunday of July every year.

Otaru City and many companies of Otaru sponsor the fireworks, but a new private entity joined the display from last year.

They began this project to display fireworks of their own. For raising funds, they are selling T-shirts that the picture of fireworks is printed in the back. You will be able to support their project, and enjoy enhanced fireworks display by buying the T-shirt.

If you are interested in the T-shirt, it is available at some shops in Otaru.

Cherry Picking Season has Started

Cherries Sold at an Orchard's Stand

Cherry picking is an amusing outdoor activities for city dwellers in this season.

In Yoichi and Niki, Otaru's neighboring towns and well known as fruits production areas, many farms open up their orchards for tourists to pick and eat cherries as much as they like within a certain time for a fixed price at this time of year.

The farmers also set up roadside produce stands, you can buy cherries to take home.  

Annual Cherry Festival is held at "Fruits Park Niki" next Sunday(July 18). If you have chance, please visit the site and enjoy good cherries.

Day Trip to Shakotan

Wonderful View from Cape Kamui

Hokkaido's sightseeing season is in its height now.

It is very pleasant to visit seaside areas in this season.

If you are going to visit and stay in Otaru for a few days this summer, why don't you extend your visit to Shakotan Peninsula?

Shakotan is part of Niseko, Shakotan, Otaru quasi-national park, and its magnificent views of the coastline is well-known and attracts numerous visitors every summer.

You can take a day trip to Shakotan by bus.

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