Old rich port town
Otaru Travel Blog› entry 2 of 52 › view all entries
I get to the train station to go for a little trip to Otaru. It is a little town a short train ride away from Sapporo the train is driving along the shore for a good part of the time so it is a good trip to take and enjoy the bright sunshine along the coast.
I get to the city and get off and start walking down toward the canal of the town which is also the home of some of the many old warehouses which made the foundation of the wealth of Otaru a century ago. The city was the centre of herring fishing industry and its proximity to Russian meant there was a lot of commerce going on with the Russians during that era.
The Russian influence has been kept till this day - hence when you see posters around the town they are typically in Japanese, English and Russian.
I get down to the canal and walk along it during the fabulous sunshine - it is almost to warm today - here you must take into account I just left Denmark after suffering from 10 month of what would be described as winter weather in 90 percent of the world.
I walk along the canal to the end and down there is a little square which is surrounded by old warehouses and a main building which the former Otaru branch of Nippon Yusen Co. It has been turned into a museum and it looks quite interesting from the outside - hence I want to have a little closer look at the building from the inside. I get in and my hope that all Japanese would speak English and all signs would be in English is quickly squashed. Inside is no signs in English and the staff speak no English at all - though they are very friendly and helpful. I get in and have a little look around and the place is not that interesting the main hall is quite impressive with the big room with a high ceiling and a few old desks standing in the room indicating where the staff used to sit and work in the old days. I figure there gotta be more to the museum than just this one hall - hence I try to have a look at the out buildings behind the main building. The staff is eagerly pointing me towards the end of the small building behind the main hall - I walk down towards the end of the hall - there is a strange smell in the air. It turns out the out building is actually an out building housing the toilets of the museum. This wasn’t really what I was looking for but I guess I can just turn back and try to figure out if there are more to the museum. There are actually a bit of a museum on the second floor with the old furniture from the heyday of the house when big meetings probably took place inside it.
I get out of the museum - I did not really spend all that much time inside it - and then I walk towards the old Wall Street of the north - the home to all the banks of Otaru. The banks are housed in buildings of which some are quite impressive and shining above the rest is probably the old Bank of Japan branch in Otaru. The building is no longer a bank and has been turned into a museum instead.
I walk around for a bit taking in the old houses of the city and just before I head back for the station I walk by a catholic church which looks quite old but in fact it is less than a hundred years old. Probably because Christianity was banned in Japan until not very long ago. In front of the church are writing - probably about the times for service and such - but it looks a bit strange to see Japanese signs on a catholic church.