Thursday, May 26, 2016

Japan trip Spring 2016 Part 4: Day 3 - Exploring Otaru & experiencing the Hakodate Liner

May 16 was our last day in the Sapporo-ish area. First item to take care of was checking out of the hotel!
Our rooms looked out on Odori Park, while we were finishing packing up, they wanted to go down and have their photo taken lol. But you can really barely tell they're there! And the windows had this design on it so it wasn't clear haha.

I knew what I wanted to wear this skirt while we were still in Hokkaido and the other two days were already set, so I was left with no choice but to wear it this day! It worked out pretty well though because I wanted to change to the Ank Rouge sandals, and it all coordinated very reasonably.

We checked out of the hotel at around 08:30am, leaving our luggage in the lobby until we returned later in the day and forwarding a few pieces.

Instead of catching the subway for one stop, we opted to take the 12ish minute walk to Sapporo station where we got on a Hakodate Line train.

We arrived at Otaru station about 45 minutes later.

Directly down the street from the station, we found the famous Otaru canal.

I purchased a musubi from a Lawson's while we were walking down the street, so apparently I took this time to just hurriedly eat it.

We were able to see more blossoms!

And then we started exploring some of the shops that Otaru had to offer! Look at all the beautiful glass pieces! (My favorites are the toilet figures and all the Chinese zodiac series!)

For lunch, we wanted to try out a carousel sushi / kaiten zushi restaurant advertised in some of the informational pamphlets for the area. We actually walked right past Kantarou in our determination to find it wtf. In our defense, there was a huge crowd of tourists just lolling around in front of it although they weren't even waiting for the restaurant. Luckily, we were early enough not to have to wait to be seated!

Idk what is the norm because I haven't been to a ton of kaiten zushi restaurants in Japan, but this one was different than both of the ones I've been to before where you order by filling out a little paper form (what item number, how many and whether you want wasabi or not) and giving it to the chef. Super easy and simple!
Carousel sushi restaurants are very familiar in Hawaii, but this was my parents' first time at one in Japan, and I think it was an enjoyable experience! They liked almost everything.

There was a souvenir shop next to the restaurant with capybara things :)

Then we went back to exploring Sakaimachi street with tons and tons and tons of shops. We were planning on spending the rest of the day in Otaru until around 03:30pm, so we were in no particular rush and went into almost every store that seemed like it might have something to offer. There were a few things in particular that my parents were looking for, and several shops had very similar products, but you never knew where you were going to happen upon something special! Wish I could share a bit more of what some of the stores had to offer since we spent so much time doing this but many of the shops had a "no photos" policy!
The hills were covered with these structures (sorry I can't remember the specific term for them rn) that I think help with erosion/vegetation? (Sorry, I know I'm missing the important part of that but it was just cool to see so many and how they did it.) Edit: Thanks to kuuki in the comments section below who helped remind me that these help with snow, duh!

Aside from the fantastic glass pieces, Otaru is also known for music boxes - many of which play familiar tunes (like those from Ghibli films)!

It was pretty windy and therefore a bit cold, but that didn't stop us from taking a break for soft serve.
My parents shared the "3 tastes of Hokkaido" (lavender, milk and melon). I got regular chocolate (yeah, that's the best I can do) and my bf got "raw chocolate" but opted for a cup instead of a cone lol. I hate melted soft serve so I accidentally got too anxious about it spilling into my hand and took a bite of it before I got the picture wtf.

We finally made it to the other end of Sakaimachi street where there was another well-known photo spot with a steam clock that was a gift from Vancouver (apparently at around 02:10pm lol).

Just behind the clock is a huge Music Box Museum! We actually just spent time in the shop part, but the structure is quite large and expansive, and if it wasn't for the massive crowds in there that make it a bit uncomfortable, you'd be able to spend quite a bit of time in it.
There were so many different choices for stands/bases and then a lot of different tunes for the music boxes themselves - from Ghibli to Disney to The Beatles, The Carpenters and more!

When we finally felt done in the museum, we realized we should start heading back.
We briefly stopped at a few places along the street that we had said "oh we'll come back" to when we walked down the first time and picked up items like shoyu bottles.

My parents and bf also stopped for this "frozen smore". My dad thought it was okay but my mother and bf weren't fans.

We misplaced my mom for a bit when she left to go find a specific store (that she shouldn't have missed because it was so prominent and obvious but whatever) and we ended up having to pretty much run back up to the station to make it on a particular train back to Sapporo station. Like literally, lol. Hence, very few pictures from the last part of the visit in Otaru.

We arrived back at Sapporo station at our desired time and then had more than enough time to prepare for our next obligation (which is what we wanted since we didn't want to lollygag in Otaru and then rush on this end). We walked back to the hotel in Odori,

picked up our remaining luggage that hadn't been forwarded,

then walked all the way back to Sapporo station lol.

But we also stopped to get some sweets from Candy Labo that my mom intended to give as a gift. We were able to try a sample of it, and we both thought it was quite good!

Once at Sapporo station, we went to go look for ekiben for our long train ride! We hadn't eaten a solid meal in a while (and we did all that running to Otaru station wtf), so most of us were pretty hungry. We reserved seats for the Hakodate Liner, Hokuto 22 train from Sapporo to Hakodate. It's very similar to a shinkansen in terms of arrangements...except it's not a shinkansen lol.

Arrived at Hakodate station just about 4 hours later! I wasn't intending on sleeping but did anyway for the majority of the ride lol.

The station is reasonably small, and it was easy to navigate to find the Loisir Hotel Hakodate just across the street from the station! The front desk was uncrowded, and check in was easy.

I actually managed to get a quick shot of the room before my bf dumped his stuff everywhere for once. Simple but just a reasonable and convenient place to sleep for a couple nights.

We basically just showered and immediately went to sleep after briefly preparing what we needed for the next day. Somehow sitting on a train for 4 hours still leaves you feeling a bit exhausted lol.

It ended up being quite a long day with all the browsing we did in each of the small little shops in Otaru, but I'm not sure if it's quite reflected well in the photos lol. I wish I could have captured all the great glass pieces and how magical all the music boxes were, but I wanted to respect the shops' policies as much as possible once I was aware of them. Otaru is definitely worth a visit if you're in the area, but be sure to get a seat on the train because it's a bit of a ride from Sapporo station! The Hakodate liner was a longer ride than we're used to but we easily slept the time away which was easy bc it was so dark outside and there wasn't anything to see outside the window. Arriving at night in Hakodate allowed us to take advantage of a full day in the area for Day 4!
Japan trip Spring 2016 posts
Part 1: Packing (Liz Lisa outfits) for Hokkaido to Osaka in May
Part 2: Arrival to CTS & Day 1 - Curb Market, Shiroi Koibito Park and shopping in Sapporo
Part 3: Day 2 - Nijo Market, Sapporo Beer Museum & Tanukikoji in Sapporo
Part 4: Day 3 - Exploring Otaru & experiencing the Hakodate Liner
Part 5: Day 4 - Morning Market, Red Brick Warehouses & Mt Hakodate in Hakodate
Part 6: Day 5 - Hokkaido Shinkansen & shopping in Tokyo and Funabashi
Part 7: Day 6 - Tokyo DisneySea
Part 8: Day 7 - Last minute shopping in Omiya and Tokyo & Tokaido Shinkansen to Osaka
Part 9: Day 8 - Kinkakuji in Kyoto & shopping in Osaka
Part 10: Day 9 - Utsubo Park Rose Festival, Namba/Shinsaibashi & departure from KIX in Osaka
Part 11: Liz Lisa shopping, purchases & coordinates
Part 12: Other shopping, purchase & coordinates
Part 13: Travel notes - Hotels, Luggage forwarding & Pocket wifi

Japan trip Autumn 2015 posts
Japan trip Summer 2015 posts
Japan trip Spring 2015 posts
Japan trip Summer 2014 posts


  1. The things on the hill are actually for snow. Because snow is crazy in Otaru in the winter, like it often goes up to your waist kind of crazy.

    1. Oh goodness, OF COURSE. Thank you for commenting. Leave it to the oblivious Hawaii people to never think of snow lmao.

  2. The music boxes and glass wears are so pretty. The ice cream looks so so so yummyyyy!

    1. Definitely ate more soft cream in Hokkaido than we usually do! And the items are all much more amazing in person <3