Otaru is a small city located around 30-minutes to the northwest of Sapporo. Much like Hakodate in the south, Otaru has a long history a port and trade city, a heritage which is reflected in the preservation of its historic canal district. Retention of many brick and stone warehouses and merchants buildings imbues Otaru with a notably different character to most Japanese cities, and one that attracts visitors from all over the world.
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There’s plenty of accommodation to choose form in the city, ranging from Western-style business hotels, self-contained accommodation, and small, family-run guesthouses. Prices in the city centre are usually reasonable, especially outside of summer and weekends. Within easy reach of Sapporo and New Chitose Airport, Otaru can also be reached using the ferry service which operates from Maizuru in Kyoto Prefecture – taking around 21 hours – or Niigata City in Niigata Prefecture – taking around 16 hours.