The retro port town of Otaru can be used as a base to ski Kiroro and is a destination itself with amazing food and cultural experiences.
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Located on the coastline of Southern Hokkaido, the port town of Otaru is a popular tourist destination known for it’s beautifully preserved canal and distinctive historical architecture. It is also an ideal base for skiers and snowboarders aiming to ski the much vaunted powdery slopes of Kiroro Snow World. Closer to town are three resorts which are smaller with a more local vibe. The town center itself is a treasure trove of cultural attractions and gastronomic delights, ensuring that your downtime is as enjoyable as your time on the slopes. Small warning! Otaru is a tourist hot spot and during busier periods, the quaint little streets can be as packed as the first chair on a Niseko powder day. The restaurants are small and the popular ones get filled up quickly.

View from Tenguyama ski resort Otaru

Otaru Ski Resorts

Kiroro Snow World is an international ski resort said to have the highest amount of snowfall in Hokkaido with an average of 21m in season and is easily reachable by shuttle bus from Otaru. Otaru also has 3 local resorts within half an hour from town Mt Tenguyama, Snow Cruise Onze and Asarigawa Onsen all of which are are well serviced by public transport. These resorts have well priced tickets and night skiing, so you can make the most your day.

Kiroro Snow World
One of Hokkaido’s most famous international resorts which gets an insane amount of snow
Snow Cruise Onze
Onze has amazing views of the ocean as you race down the trails. Close to town, inexpensive tickets and night skiing makes it a local favourite.
Mt Tenguyama
More of a local’s resort with great views of Otaru from the summit. Tenguyama’s courses can be challenging and steep with the “Tengu Wall” being a proving ground.
Asarigawa Ski Resort
This beautiful onsen town of Asarigawa is also home to a small local ski resort where you can escape the crowds.

Kiroro Snow World

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Tenguyama Ski Resort

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Snow Cruise Onze

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Longest Run

Asarigawaonsen Ski Resort

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Longest Run

Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort

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Compare Otaru ski resorts

Getting to Ski Resorts From Otaru

Otaru has a network of resort liners and local buses that can transport you to the local ski resorts. Taxis in Otaru will also take you to the ski resorts. They are mainly standard sized sedans, so make sure you book one with a roof rack if needed.  You have to organise your own taxis back from ski resorts. The resorts will not do it for you and will direct you to call your hotel to arrange the booking.

Otaru to Tenguyama

There are local buses to Tenguyama

Driving: 15 mins
Public Bus: ~30mins

Otaru to Snow Cruize Onze

Run as an all inclusive day trip. You can buy a bus, lift and rental ticket to visit ONZE. For some weird reason, you have to buy the additional rental package for this ticket.

Driving: 20mins
Resort Liner (Booking required): ~30mins

Otaru to Asarigawa Onsen

Run as a day trip. You can buy a bus & lift ticket to Asarigawa onsen.

Driving: 20mins
Free Shuttle Bus (Booking required): ~30mins

Otaru to Kiroro

The Kiroro Liner has multiple pick up points in the city and does trips twice a day to Kiroro and back. Requires booking ahead. 

Driving: 40 mins
Resort Liner (Booking required): 1 hr 15 mins


View travel times to Otaru resorts

Otaru Food

Thanks to its unique location surrounded by the Sea of Japan and Sea of Okhotsk, Otaru is famous for its exceptional seafood sourced from the local harbor. It is said that the freezing temperatures here mean that fish develop more fat which makes them more delicious. Otaru is also known as the The "Kingdom of Sweets” for the numerous patisseries and dessert shops lining its streets offering treats such as the famous LeTAO cheesecakes and crispy cream puffs from Rokkatei. 

The Freshest Seafood
You can get very fresh seafood everywhere in Otaru but make sure you try local delicacies such as the Herring which is usually caught on the day, uni (sea urchin) and shako (mantis shrimp).
One of the most popular Otaru dishes is Hanmiage which is half chicken deep fried to perfection with crunchy skin and succulent meat.
LeTAO Cheescake
Hokkaido dairy milk is said to be the best in Japan and LeTao’s double fromage cheesecake is what propelled the pasticier to international fame and locations around the world.
Ankake Yakisoba
A local favourite. Ankake yakisoba is a noodle dish topped with shrimp, clams, squid and vegetables and fried in a thick rich sauce.

Otaru Restaurants

You are absolutely spoiled for choice in Otaru when it comes to great food. The gourmet city has great dining options everywhere and you won’t go wrong at one of establishments along the canal, Sankaku market and Sakaimachi.

Hokkai Aburiyaki Canal Warehouse
A renovated warehouse where diners can huddle around a table with a built in coal fireplace and grill fresh local seafoods, meats and vegetables.
When you want to splash out on the best sushi, head to Isezushi where you will get the finest pieces of fish prepared by masterful chefs. There is also a stand up counter at the Otaru station for a faster option.
Naruto Honten
The restaurant that first cooked up Hanmiage is still the best place to eat the half deep fried chicken, alongside zangi fried chicken pieces and sushi.
Wagyu Kurosawa
Kurosawa is famous for it's wagyu katsu - Beef katsu which you finish grilling yourself. They have a few outlets in Otaru which get filled up quickly.

Where to Stay in Otaru

Being a popular destination, Otaru has a variety of accommodation options ranging from luxury hotels to budget-friendly guesthouses. Some hotels offer equipment rental services, and are on the ski shuttle network to nearby ski resorts. Factors in getting a hotel would be distance to train stations, bus stops, sightseeing spots, food & entertainment. Thankfully in Otaru, most of these spots are within a small area from the train station to the canal.

Otaru Ski Shops & Rentals

Otaru has a small selection of sports and outdoor shops where you can pick up some gear. The Otaru Kitashiribeshi Ski & Adventure center operates a rental service network which can deliver equipment to your hotel.

Otaru Kitashiribeshi Ski & Adventure Center
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Ski rental
Snowboard rental
Alpen Otaru
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Ski gear
Snowboard gear

Things to do in Otaru

With its rich history, artisanal culture, and natural beauty, there's no shortage of things to do and sights to see in Otaru. The city is conveniently made up of 4 areas - the station area, canal area, shopping area and bay area, all within walking distance of each other. The Otaru Unga (Otaru Canal) is a must visit for any tourist. Especially on Winter evenings, when the antique gas lamps light up beautifully the stone facades of the warehouses along the canal.

Sankaku Fish Market
Wander through this market and check out the amazing variety of fresh fish and seafood they have on display. Pick what you like and the restaurants will prepare if for you.
Denuki Koji
A little narrow shopping laneway by the canal which has a free observation deck with 360 degree views of Otaru. A couple of eateries and shops where you can buy street food and drinks.
Otaru Orgel Museum
For those with a love for music and craftsmanship, the Otaru Music Box Museum is a delightful destination.Visitors can marvel at the thousands of music boxes, and even create their own to keep. Warning! The repetiitive music may induce horror movie flashbacks.
Otaru Snow Light Path Festival
Every year at the start of February, Otaru is transformed with little snow sculptures and lanterns which illuminate the path ways. You can see this at the Otaru canal which will have floating lanterns and Temiyasen Kaijo area - between the canal and the train station.
Sakaimachi Dori
Otaru's shopping street is lined with museums & shops selling glassware, souvenirs, street food and desserts. Really popular with tourists, whose constant passage can transform the footpaths into an icy path of death.
Sushiya Dori
Sushi restaurant street is a 300m long road home to 20 of Otaru's best sushi restaurants.


VinceAugust 10 23

Ski Japan: Hokkaido Road Trip Part 1

Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort
Kiroro Snow World
Burton Sapporo Flagship Store
vinceJanuary 27 24
The first thing we did in Otaru was seek out 

The first thing we did in Otaru was seek out Tokaiya. It’s a small space and there was a bit of a wait but it was worth it. We came for the special pork miso ramen which was recommend by a friend. The charred pieces of pork was something I have never had and it tasted 🤤!

Ramen Tokaiya

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Sapporo Kokusai Ski Resort

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food & drinks

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