A lot. A whole lot. We were completely charmed strolling around Otaru Canal, and went insane in Sakaimachi shopping for Hokkaido cookies and stuff. From Sapporo, we took the hour-long slow train which chop-chooed along the coast towards Otaru. Slow by our standards as the Shinkansen rides have become the norm. Rapid, Semi-Rapid, Local? Train life has become our day-to-day thing.
The streets are clean, well-marked and lined with many interesting shops. From the JR Station, we stowed our overnight bags in the lockers then set off for the canal. There’s a 40-minute canal cruise, and the option to walk it, with a promised delight as one turns towards the shopping street of Sakaimachi. Unburdened by our overnight bags, we skipped and hopped and joined the walking tourist crowd at 12C weather. So pleasant!
It’s the beginning of autumn here. I can imagine the creepers on some historic buildings turning brown, then orange to present a pretty sight. Shouldn’t be long now. Autumn foliage here and there. Must look so beautiful in full bloom in a couple of weeks! The old warehouses lining the canal are well-preserved. So many…. must have been a very busy port town!
Once we walked towards Sakaimachi shopping street, we knew it was a tourist trap. But a delightful one! Merchant shops all around, including Venetian glassworks! And a gondola for Lady Diana — seriously? At the end is the Music Box Museum but I bet you’d be busy visiting the shops till you find that corner. We darted in and out of almost every shop, and drained our pockets. We changed more money at the Post Office and trooped back to the Le Tao shop. Gosh, those cookies and biscuits are so addictive!
There was even a green matcha shop where I indulged in a cone of my fav green tea ice cream. Nearby, there were shops selling dried scallops, mackerel, squid alongside live crabs and other shellfish. A small stall selling steamed corn on a cob was initially ignored but corn is my fav snack food, so I finally gave in. So sweet, no kidding!
Then back to the cookies. Oh boy. I can spend a fortune here. They’re not cheap. But sooo good and totally worth it. We tried distracting ourselves with other stuff to buy, but we found a 2nd Le Tao shop! Dear Lord. Their decor is Halloween-themed by this time — coming up in a couple of weeks. So apropos with the autumn foliage.
Otaru. Hokkaido . You’d like it here. Shoppers and non-shoppers alike. There’s a good number of cafes, izakayas, pizza and pasta eateries, desserts place, tiny seafood market, cookie shops, museums, etc to claim your precious travel time. So just be sure you leave enough time to walk back to the JR Station to catch your train.