Otaru Canal - Hokkaido

Otaru Canal (小樽運河), located in Minatomachi, Otaru City, Hokkaido Prefecture, is one of, if not the, most popular tourist destinations in Otaru City.

Otaru Canal

Otaru Canal Details


Otaru Canal was completed in 1923 during the heyday of the Port of Otaru. Since the port was very busy, large ships can't stay in the port to unload cargo for extended periods of time. To address this problem, smaller vessels are used to unload these cargoes which would then transport them to the warehouses via the Otaru Canal.

Otaru Canal - Otaru City, Hokkaido Prefecture

Through time, as the dock facilities improved the canal became obsolete and fell into disuse.  There came a point where there were plans to reclaim the canal and the warehouses beside it be demolished. Thankfully, a citizen's movement saved parts of the canal to preserve them. 

Otaru Canal in winter

One of the plaques explaining the history of Otaru Canal

A pathway (covered in snow) is found in the whole length of the western side of Otaru Canal

Warehouses line up the eastern side of Otaru Canal

These areas were renovated. A cobblestone walkway was built and retro-designed gas lamps were installed to give it the old Taisho era feel. Outdoor lights were also installed to project light into the canal and the warehouses at night giving it additional beauty. 

Winter view of Otaru Canal at night

The warehouses along Otaru Canal

Today, Otaru Canal is one of the most photographed places in Otaru City. You can either walk along the cobblestone walkway or ride a canal boat to enjoy the beauty of the canal. You can do this in the morning and even at night when the canal becomes more magical. Speaking of which, Otaru Canal also serves as the main site of the Otaru Snow Light Path Festival which is usually held every 2nd week of February. 

Otaru Canal with my Filipino ALT friends

The Backpack Adventures visits Otaru Canal

I got to visit Otaru Canal with my Filipino friends last January 5, 2022, during my 10th week here in Hokkaido Prefecture as an ALT under the JET Programme. Overall, it was a very memorable trip because I have long wanted to see it for myself after watching the hit 2017 romantic comedy film Kita Kita. Someday soon, I will revisit Otaru Canal. This time, I'll bring my wife and daughter along with me. 

Otaru Canal Rates

It's FREE to visit and explore Otaru Canal via the cobblestone streets. However, you need to pay if you want to ride the canal boat. Here's the rate: 

Day Cruise: 1500 yen (adult) / 500 yen (children)
Night Cruise: 1800 yen (adult) / 500 yen (children)

Otaru Canal Operating Hours

While Otaru Canal is open 24/7, the canal cruise operates only from 11AM - 9:40PM. However, keep in mind that the season and weather can affect operations.

Why visit Otaru Canal?

As mentioned, Otaru Canal is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Otaru City. It's a must-see whenever you are in the city as it is its main tourist destination and is considered Otaru City's symbol.

Getting to Otaru Canal

From Sapporo Station, ride the Hakodate Line or the Rapid Airport train. Board down at Otaru Station. From there, you can walk straight down Chuo-Dori street to Otaru Canal. 

Another option is to ride the bus from Otaru Station to Otaru Canal. You may board buses #11, #2, or #3 and board down at the Otaru Canal bus Stop.

Travel time and fare:

Rapid Airport: 32 minutes / 1280 yen
Hakodate Line: 46 minutes / 750 yen

Optional - Bus fare: 15 minutes / 240 yen 




Overall rating


  1. I have been to Otaru Canal last summer and it was crowded. I didn't know that it looks magnificient in winter.

    1. Otaru has a winter illumination festival. I think that is also one of the must-experience things in the city.


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