Monday, October 1, 2007

A Harbour Town Called Otaru

SEPTEMBER 10, 2007
As the photo above suggests, we headed to Otaru after spending our first night in Hakodate. So before we board on our train to Otaru, we took a shot in front of Hakodate Station. It may seem that it is already bright that time. But it was just around 7 in the morning.

Well, the sun here rises just too early. As the journey will take us about 5 hours, we tried taking the earliest train as possible. But as expected, we didn't manage to wake up early enough. Anyway, it wasn't a straight 5-hour train ride. We stopped at a station called 長万部 (Oshamanbe). Instead of waiting for the train to arrive in an hours time, I tried walking around the station and check out if there is anything interesting.

From the station, it seems like there is a beach nearby. It was just about 5-minutes walk from the station.


To be fair, the weather wasn't sunny. Nevertheless. I still spent a few moments at the beach. By the time we reached Otaru, it was already past 3. The weather didn't change and it stayed cloudy. But that didn't stop us from getting ready to explore this town.

The first place we went to was Otaru City Museum.


Housed in a former warehouse next to the canal, the Otaru City Museum introduces local history, culture and fauna. But before I enter any further inside the museum, I was greeted with this ancient looking model of ship.


Basically, this museum showcases the history of this town - how it was founded, until how it looks like at present day. This is how Otaru looked like once upon a time.


Just like any other museum you visit, it is common for you to find stuff like documents;




I thought I always hear people say that the Japanese are small sized; until I saw a shirt big enough to fit two normal size humans.


If there is a must-have thing to a blogger, it will definitely be a camera.


I kid you not. I'm currently using a camera just like the model on the top right.

We continued walking to the next gallery. This time a fish greeted me. Unlike the gold one I saw in Osaka Castle during my visit to Osaka early August, it was a rather rusty-looking silver fish this time.


And the people back then had already came to know something we have almost lost touch with in this modern age.


Maybe I am just over-exaggerating it here, but how often do we post love letters, telegram and postcards; and use a housephone nowadays? Almost none, no?

There was a place, where they make it looked just like a small town, with small shops surrounding it.


I suppose this is a bookshop.


And this should be a antique shop.


They even displayed how a typical Japanese living room or should I say kitchen in one of the shops.


We finally came to the end of the gallery and we was thinking to camwhore a bit with the stuff on display. No tripod with us, but we still came out with a shot using the self-timer mode.


The next gallery displayed stuff that ranging from the local's daily life to flora and fauna. Their attire looks like just like pieces of cloth made of animal skin.


At first glance, I thought she was preparing doughs used for pottery.


Only for me to realise it later that she is cooking. We were almost done with the museum, as it was the last gallery. But did I mention about flora and fauna just a moment ago?


Okay, I admit the attention should be on the preserved animals at the background, and not the 3 stoogers.

The next stop was Otaru Canalside Glass Factory. As you might not know it, glassware is one of Otaru's local specialties. When the herring fishing industry declined in the 1950s, the makers of glass buoys diverted their business to produce refined glassware, as the demand for buoys plunged. The result today are numerous glass shops, which now carter mainly to souvenir hungry tourists.


Among the glass related attractions are the Kitaichi Glass Shops of Otaru's most famous glass maker, the Otaru Unga Kogeikan where tourists can create their own cups in a workshop, "The Glass Ship" which is a glass shop in a former warehouse and the Kitaichi Venetian Art Museum with glass art from Venice.


But we didn't actually went to those factories as time constraint being a factor.


Instead, we just entered one of the souvenirs shop there and there were stuff made of glass at every corner.


Apprently, it wasn't just glasses made of glass. There were also other stuff available. Plates and bowls made of glass, for instance.


But this must be the one I remembered the most.


I don't know why, but I just got a feeling that wherever I go, there must be at least once where I will come across ducks. My last encounter with ducks was during the cultural exchange camp in Mito. Or perhaps, it is just me that have too much interest on ducks.

Our next stop was 小樽運河 (Otaru Canal). It didn't take us long to locate the canal as it was just opposite the glass place.


Otaru Canal used to be a central part of the city's busy harbor in the first half of the 20th century, when large vessels had to be unloaded by smaller ships, which then transported the goods to warehouses along the canal.

The canal became obsolete, when modern dock facilities allowed for direct unloading of larger vessels. Thanks to a citizens' movement, however, a part of the canal was beautifully restored in the 1980s instead of being landfilled, while the warehouses were transformed into shops, cafes, museums and restaurants.


The canal makes for a pleasant scroll during the day, when various artists present their works to the passing tourists, and it is very romantic in the evening, when the gas lamps are lit.


We took a time-out to have a photo taken with one of the trishaw puller there. These trishaw men actually offer services where they will take you around the town while giving details about most of the main tourist spots and main buildings.

There was a time when we were walking beside one of them, and we heard that guy giving descriptions about some building and we decided to tail him.


We had spent the half day travelling, another few hours walking around the town and it was about the time for us to feed our hungry stomach. Coming to Hokkaido will not be complate without triyng their sushi made from fresh seafood.

There is a street here called 寿司通り (Sushi-dori) which literally translate into "Sushi Street". Along this street, there were lots of sushi restaurant, offering various kind of sushi. Finally, we decided to go for 寿司食べ放題 (sushi tabehoudai) at 旭寿司 (Asahizushi).

The first thing we were served was a small bowl of tuna.


The next one is sashimi. Five types of sashimi to be exact. Ika (squid), tako (octopus) salmon (your favourite) and two other types of fish.


And finally, the main thing came. Fifteen types of sushi. We had two boards of the sushi and it was really filling.


As the last order, we called the two best sushi of the night. Uni (sea urchin) and chutaro.


We wanted to order more than one serving, but wasn't allowed to do so. Do you call that tabehoudai? But I understand, as both of the sushi is quite costly compared to the rest.

After treating ourselves with mini sushi feast, we thought of returning to the canal to watch the night view of it. It was already dark when we were outside and the temperature had begun to drop.


The night view of Otaru Canal is much better than daytime. Lights turned on and you can almost sense the romantic feeling here.


What will you do when you don't have your special one to be by your side at this kind of moment?


I guess camwhoring there with your friends is the only option. It was getting late and we later took a short 40-minutes train ride to Sapporo and we will be spending our next two days in the capital of Hokkaido.


A city where in 1857, the city's population stood at just seven people.


mg said...

ship oso can camwhore??

i wont dare to enter that glass shop. im bound to break something. =/

the canal looks pretty... =)

calvin said...

@ michelleg:
is it because you have wings and feathers around your body that you might sweep all the glasses there?

Anonymous said...

Otaru is sister city of Dunedin

Eric Sng said...

i like thet glass beutifull espeacially the duck.

Want to ask u do u do the cross-the-words-thing like the (love) letter??

mg said...

NOOO!!! dunnolar feel unstable. im such a klutz, always accicentally knock into something and having bruises here n there.

lonehunter88 said...

"What will you do when you don't have your special one to be by your side at this kind of moment?"

oh my God! so sorry Calvin that she wasn't able to be there.. I would've invited her too if I could.. I'm so sorry.. really really sorry..

calvin said...

@ michelleg:
when you knock into something, i thought it should be the stuff you knock to suffer the bruises, instead of you =P

calvin said...

@ lonehunter88:
you should try harder inviting your special one next time and not apologising to me here. maybe i can know your girl better in the next trip =D

lonehunter88 said...

i meant ur special one.. you don't have to hide ur sadness.. just cry ur heart out.. don't worry.. yk won't care if u cry.. i know u very sad coz u couldnt be with ur special one during that romantic moment.. so sorry.. as an apology, i'll treat u an ice cream the next time i see u.. so that u can remember the sweetness of ur beloved..

calvin said...

@ lonehunter:
i guess it is much better for me to enjoy my trip, instead of the so-called crying without any clear reason, right? =)

lonehunter88 said...

but now u not on trip liaw mar.. that time we were there and u dowan to bocor ur secret so cannot cry.. now can cry d.. u even admit u miss her.. lol