Skip to main content

Otaru, Japan

This port on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido thrived on coal exports and the herring fishery through the end of the 19th and the early 20th centuries, evidenced by the Western influenced “herring mansions” that line its central canal. The 1897 Nishin Goten is an early example, while the Aoyama Villa from 1924 is a later version. The 1912 Bank of Japan Museum is also influenced by Western taste, but nods to tradition with keystones representing owls, an ancient Ainu deity. Further afield, explore the Yoichi Nikka Whisky Distillery, the spas at the Jyozankei Hot Springs, or the Hokkaido coast as seen from the Cape Kanui Lighthouse. Any visit to Sapporo should include the mile-long Odoro Park.