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Hokkaido | Otaru

Otaru Canal

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Otaru Canal

First built in 1923, the Otaru Canal was used by businesses to transport their merchandise to warehouses with smaller ships since the bigger ships could not directly unload their goods to their destinations. However, eventually there was no use for the smaller vessels when the city approved the construction of piers. Since the larger vessels could unload their goods at the pier and transport the goods by land, the canal became of no use. For a long time, the canal was left alone as well as the warehouses surrounding it. The water became dirty and smelly, so the city decided to fill the canal and make it into a road, but the citizens petitioned to save and preserve the canal. After the assistance from the local citizens to have the canal area restored in 1986, the area became used as a tourist attraction.

The city built walking paths next to the canal so now, during the day people can take leisurely walks about the scenic route where the museums, restaurants, and shops inside of previous warehouse buildings. Artists present their works to passing tourists, warehouses reflect off the water's surface and old fashioned gas lamps light the path at night creating a romantic atmosphere. The canal is a five minute walk from Otaru Station. The fences that surround the canal and bridges are designed using white birch trees as their motif. There are also four stone tablets engraved with pictures that show a little bit of the history of Otaru. There is a cruise that takes you around the canal and under the bridges. You can either ride it during the day or night time. Furthermore, Otaru Canal is the main site of the Snow Light Path Festival which is celebrated annually during February as a winter festival.



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