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Travel: Trip to Sapporo-Otaru-Hakodate-Onuma, 17-27 Apr 2016 (Part 7 - Day 6 in Otaru)

>> Monday, May 9, 2016

Day 6 at Hokkaido saw the beginning of our exciting weekend-away! We purchased the 3-days JR Hokkaido Rail Pass (as mentioned in my earlier post) & I planned for us to visit Otaru for a day & Hakodate-Onuma for 2 days 1 night. The pass had to be activated & used within 3 consecutive days & costs JP¥16,500.00 (RM594.00/person).

This 'special' rail pass is especially for tourists/non-Japanese citizens with a temporary travel visa into Japan. There are a couple of options to purchase the rail pass (there are other types of rail passes as well, so you'll need to visit the official JR train website to find out more) e.g. via their website/online or via travel agencies like the Japan Travel Bureau (JTB). I purchased our passes from the JTB branch office in the new Shah Alam Aeon Mall since I stay in Shah Alam - quite convenient, really. The difference between buying online vs buying from a travel agency like JTB is the currency exchange rate. JTB has a set weekly rate (so even if the daily rate is higher than the set weekly rate, you'll still get to buy it at the weekly rate), while buying online will depend on your credit card's exchange rate for the day. It's really up to you which you think is the better option for you. When you purchase from a travel agency, you'll get a printed 'temporary pass', which you'll have to exchange for the 'actual pass' before using the rail pass.

We exchanged our passes at the JR Sapporo station's tourist information centre & made our seat reservations as well (with the 3-days Hokkaido Rail Pass, you can make seat reservations without an additional charge) on the day before our actual travels just to ensure we got everything set for the trip ahead. You can exchange the pass upon arriving at Hokkaido on your 1st day & get it activated only for your day of travel or you can activate the ticket on the actual travel day just like us.

We woke up early in the morning on Day 6 & with an excited spirit, boarded the super limited express train from Sapporo to Otaru, an approximately 40 minutes ride or so.

The weather in Otaru for that day was slightly drizzling in the morning & sunny from late morning onwards, so we weren't too disappointed with the not-so-pleasant weather to start off our trip. Upon arriving at the Otaru station, we got our Otaru city's walking map & made our way to the Sankaku market for breakfast when the rain wasn't as heavy. Frankly speaking, Otaru doesn't look like what I've imagined i.e. a WAY smaller town that's very touristy just like the Berjaya Hills Resort area after Genting Highlands in Malaysia. In fact, it's pretty much the opposite, where there are streets filled with buildings on every side of the road & not too many people seen walking around. Perhaps it's because we weren't at the major tourist spots yet & the weather was still slightly gloomy.

Otaru's Sankaku Fish Market 小樽三角市場
稲穂3丁目10-16, Otaru
〒047-0032 Hokkaido Prefecture
Tel: N/A
URL: http://otaru-sankaku.com/
Business hours: 8:00a.m. - 6:00p.m. (approx time that I found elsewhere as the website didn't state)
GPS: 43.1980329,140.9915931
Getting there: JR train - Otaru station (Exit the station, turn left & walk towards a short flight of stairs at the end of a car park lot & the market is right in front of you) 

The name "Sankaku" came about as the land & roof of the original market was in the form of a triangle. The market began in the year 1984 with 7-8 stores at the Otaru station & has since increased to about 30 stores in May 1957, where the current market was constructed.

I was quite surprised that the market wasn't very big after all. It felt like just 1 row (both sides) of stalls & eateries in a market building! With some decent wifi connectivity, we found the place that we wanted to have our breakfast i.e. a restaurant recommended by AP's band member to have the Sailfin Poacher, a rather rare fish that you'll find for its fresh sashimi meat that's slightly chewy, translucent, yet pretty sweet.

Ajidokoro Takeda Restaurant 味処 たけだ, run by the Takeda Fish Store 武田鮮魚店
Tel: (+81)(134) 229652
URL: http://www.otaru-takeda.com/aji.html
Business hours: 7:00a.m. - 4:00p.m.
GPS: 43.1980329,140.9915931
Getting there: The restaurant is pretty much at the middle of the Sankaku Fish Market building. It's easily recognizable from the walls of the restaurant filled with colorful list of dishes available at the restaurant & the ceiling of the restaurant is plastered full of photos! 
How much we spent here in total: JP¥4100 (RM147.60)

The interior of the restaurant

Here's part of their menu with the prices - so easy to order food here!

Appetizer: Dried, seasoned squid

We actually tried some hairy crabs from another stall - they give samples out quite willingly ;)
The crab meat was sweet, but oops, we didn't dine at his restaurant.

This was what we were hunting for: Sailfin Poacher (JP¥1000/fish; RM36.00)

AP was really pleased to have found this fish - it was delicious!

PerutBesi kissing the Sailfin Poacher goodbye before we tucked all the flesh into our tummy

Set Meal of Seasonal Sashimi (JP¥1300/serving; RM46.80)
Delicious & very affordable! The seafood were so fresh, succulent & sweet!

Crab Rice Bowl (JP¥1800/serving; RM64.80)
Don't let this medium-sized bowl of rice topped with crab meat fool you. It was like 1/2 a bowl full of crab meat that I actually couldn't finish it! Extremely worth eating, especially if you love crabs!

Large, meaty, juicy crab claws!

We were truly satisfied with our 1st meal at Otaru & with the sun slowly peaking out albeit still slightly drizzling, we made our way from the market towards the canal area, weaving through rows of shops & streets along the way. On our way, we just stopped to snap a couple of photos of the richly historical coastal city.

The old railway tracks & former banks/current museums
Most of their buildings have interesting history behind their construction & establishment. The architecture has western influences as well if you look closely.

By the time we arrived at the canal area, a 15 minutes stroll from the JR Otaru Station, the sun was already out & the drizzle has stopped. *yay* Since we were on a honeymoon & had some additional cash to spend, we decided to join the 1st trip on the canal cruise :D It's our 1st time on a canal cruise & oh boy, was I excited!

Otaru Canal Cruise
5-4 Minatomachi
Otaru, Hokkaido Prefecture 047-0007
Tel: (+81)(134) 311733
URL: http://otaru.cc
Business hours: 8:30a.m. - 7:00p.m. (closes at 7:30p.m. on Fridays & Saturdays)
GPS: 43.1980521, 140.985027
Getting there: Just walk down the main street of Otaru from the JR Otaru Station & you'll see the Otaru Canal Cruise information/ticketing center on your right.

Before getting onto the canal cruise...the sun was shining directly into our eyes!
Thankfully the sun peeked out as it was actually quite cold!

The Otaru Canal

The Otaru Canal Cruise (JP¥1500/person for day time cruise; RM54.00 [night cruise JP¥1800/person])
Perfect weather for an outdoor cruise as it wasn't too hot yet, the rain has stopped & the skies were clear & beautiful, reflecting on the waters & giving it a pretty hue of blue :) Our 'captain' was actually an Australian, I think, who speaks Japanese...hahaha...it was quite awkward as he spoke Japanese with an English accent.

Mount Tenguyama in the distance - the snow's melting away

Approaching one of the old warehouses that's very well-built to withstand the weather & sea-side conditions

The developers were really clever; they built different types of ramps for humans & good to travel from the top floor to the lower floors! *whoa*

New buildings towering the older warehouses

Actually, after purchasing our canal cruise tickets, we walked over to the Otaru Beer Hall & joined their free tour around the 'factory'. It's a 20 minutes tour, so once the tour was done, we ran as fast as we could to catch the canal cruise (everything here arrives & departs on time!). We came back to the restaurant right after the cruise, this time without rushing & for some refreshing, cold beer.

Otaru Warehouse #1 a.k.a. Otaru Beer Hall 小樽倉庫 No.1/小樽ビール
Minatomachi, 5−4
Otaru,〒047-0007 Hokkaido Prefecture
Tel: (+81)(134) 212323
URL: http://otarubeer.com
Business hours: 11:00a.m. - 11:00p.m. daily
GPS: 43.1990971,141.0025359
Getting there: From the Otaru Canal Cruise ticketing center on your right, walk down the street & take the 1st right turn. Otaru Beer Hall is on your right (100m away from the junction), right 'behind' the river/canal.
How much we spent here in total: JP¥22666; RM81.58

Otaru Beer Hall (a restaurant cum factory)

Some of the types of beer served

The large equipment used to make beer

We joined the free tour, so we were introduced to how beer is brewed :D
One of the main ingredients in beer is malt

You have different types of beer: it's all 'bout the barley...

A main flavoring ingredient are hops (on the far right & photo below)

One of the staff cum tour guide explaining to us on how beer is made
Otaru beer is actually just German beer made using Otaru's water! Akakaka....

The fermentation process...ooooo....

Here's where the beer's left to mature

We were given some sample of the malt dink...SO sweet!

How beer is made
Photo taken from: Malting and Brewing

Enjoying some cold Otaru beer: Pilsner, Weiss & Dunkel
Unfortunately, there's so much foam in ratio of the beer :( AP said it's a 'bad way' of serving beer *shrugs* I really won't know...hahaha...

Some snack that we ordered, Snack #1: Cheesy baked bread
It was VERY satisfying as the bread was soft, fluffy & warm, while the cheese was chewy & light-tasting, but you can taste the fragrance of the milk :D

Beer in bottles for sale

We continued our journey & picked up various snacks along the way before we actually left Otaru for Sapporo (yeah man, we didn't have a proper lunch!).

Snack #2: Rainbow Ice-Cream (JP¥600; RM21.60)
Yeah man, totally expensive, but tastes oh-so-good!

Matcha/Green Tea, Shiroikoibito White Chocolate, Chocolate Milk Chocolate, Hokkaido Milk Premium, & Yubari Melon 

Along the way, we stopped by at some shops selling pretty glass works. All of them look too similar & it's not as if we were interested to buy any of it back, so we didn't enter that many shops selling glass works ;)

Rokattei Bakery 六花亭 小樽運河店
Japan, 〒047-0027 Hokkaido Prefecture, Otaru, 堺町7−22
Tel: (+81)(134) 246666
URL: http://rokkatei.co.jp
Business hours: 9:00a.m. - 6:00p.m. daily
GPS: 43.1990971,141.0025359
How much we spent in total: JP¥570; RM20.52

When you're at Otaru (or anywhere in Hokkaido), you must not miss trying out some of their bakeries like Rokattei & Kitakaro. Both of these bakeries have their own specialties & they're located side by side each other.

Some of the snacks that we randomly purchased to try

I have to say that their cream puff was fantastic! (JP¥90/puff; RM3.24)
Packed with milk-fragrant cream & the puff was soft & fluffy *mm mm* We should have bought more, but such fresh items do not last for too many hours & they certainly won't last the journey back to Malaysia :(

We stopped by Kitakaro as well to purchase some souvenir snacks (totaled JP¥2772; RM99.79) to bring back to Malaysia! I just bought 2 boxes of biscuits & it costs me almost RM100.00 *eek*

A green tea snack shop that we passed by, but it was too costly to buy their products

We left Otaru around 5:50p.m. without much regret although it didn't seem like we saw a lot. It was a good day of walking, enjoying, eating & relaxing, & that's all that mattered to us!

Beautiful architectures

Love how well the buildings of olden days are preserved & maintained

Since we walked so much for the day, we didn't really want to bother walking too far for dinner that night, so we discovered this hidden gem, actually at the subway exit #1 of Odori subway station, where we walk pass on a daily basis! It's a small ramen restaurant, serving delicious ramen at affordable prices, especially for the portion served.

Shoyu Chasyumen (JP¥650 + JP¥200/serving; RM30.60)
AP was very happy to get his piping hot bowl of ramen loaded with 5-6 thick pieces of chasyu! This place is such a hidden gem, tucked right behind all the other restaurants as we walked up from exit #1! If only we discovered this place much earlier!

Miso Soup Chasyumen (JP¥700 + JP¥200/serving; RM32.40)
I enjoyed my bowl of miso soup ramen; it was surprisingly not too salty unlike other restaurants! *yums* Loved the springy ramen noodles & the thick, juicy pieces of barbecued pork/chasyu :D

Thus ends Day 6 of our trip. Quite a day, really. We wanted to get back earlier to rest before taking the 4-5 hours early morning train ride to Hakodate the following day!

Stay tuned for more adventures with PerutBesi! Day 7 will be coming up next ;)

Miss the cream puff at Rokattei,


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