Otaru (小樽市, Otaru-shi) is a city and port in Shiribeshi Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan, northwest of Sapporo. The city faces Ishikari Bay and the Sea of Japan, and has long served as the main port of the bay. With its many historical buildings, Otaru is a popular tourist destination. Because it is a 25-minute drive from Sapporo, it has recently[when?] grown as a bedroom community.

Otaru
小樽市
Otaru Montage Image
Top left: Otaru Canal

Top right: The Bank of Japan Otaru Museum
Middle right 1: – Glass Works in Otaru
Middle right 2: – Temiya old railway line

Bottom: – Vista from Mount Tengu
Flag of Otaru
Official seal of Otaru
Location of Otaru in Hokkaido
Location of Otaru in Hokkaido
Otaru is located in Japan
Otaru
Otaru
 
Coordinates: 43°11′N 141°0′E / 43.183°N 141.000°E / 43.183; 141.000Coordinates: 43°11′N 141°0′E / 43.183°N 141.000°E / 43.183; 141.000
CountryJapan
RegionHokkaido
PrefectureHokkaido (Shiribeshi Subprefecture)
Government
 • MayorToshiya Hazama (from August 2018)
Area
 • Total243.13 km2 (93.87 sq mi)
Population
 (July 31, 2019)
 • Total115,333
 • Density474.37/km2 (1,228.6/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+9 (Japan Standard Time)
Phone number0134-32-4111
Address2-12-1 Hanazono, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido
047-8660
ClimateDfb
Websitewww.city.otaru.lg.jp
Symbols
BirdAobato (Japanese Green Pigeon)
FlowerAzalea
TreeShirakaba (Siberian Silver Birch)

As of July 31, 2019, the city has an estimated population of 115,333 and a population density of 474.37 persons per km2 (1,228.6 persons per sq. mi.). The total area is 243.13 km2 (93.87 sq mi). Although it is the largest city in Shiribeshi Subprefecture, the subprefecture's capital is the more centrally located Kutchan.

HistoryEdit

The city was an Ainu habitation, and the name "Otaru" is recognised as being of Ainu origin, possibly meaning "River running through the sandy beach". The very small remaining part of the Temiya Cave contains carvings from the Zoku-Jōmon period of Ainu history, around A.D. 400. Mount Akaiwa (Northwest part of Otaru) is memorialized in the Ainu tradition in the story of Sitonai, village chief's teenage daughter who had slain a white snake from the mountain's cave that demanded sacrifices of girls every year.[1][2] The legend explains the name of a big cave on Mount Akaiwa, Hakuryu Gongen Cave (白竜権現洞窟, lit. White Dragon Gongen Cave) and the reason why a shrine was built on the mountain (to protect the village from being haunted by the snake).[2]

Otaru was recognised as a village by the bakufu in 1865, and in 1880 the first railway line in Hokkaido was opened with daily service between Otaru and Sapporo.

An Imperial decree in July 1899 established Otaru as an open port for trading with the United States and the United Kingdom.[3]

The city flourished well as the financial and business center in Hokkaido as well as the trade port with Japanese ruled southern Sakhalin until the 1920s. Otaru was redesignated as a city on August 1, 1922.

On December 26, 1924, a freight train loaded with 600 cases of dynamite exploded in Temiya Station, damaging the warehouse, the harbour facilities, and the surrounding area. Local officials stated that at least 94 were killed and 200 injured in this disaster.

During World War II, Otaru housed a prison camp for Aleuts taken there following the Japanese occupation of Attu.[4] During the closing stages of the war, Otaru was bombed by American naval aircraft in July 1945.[5]

Since the 1950s, as the coal industry around the city went into a decline, the status of the economic hub shifted from Otaru to Sapporo.

GeographyEdit

 
Tengu mountain

Otaru is a port town on the coast of the Sea of Japan in northern Shiribeshi Subprefecture. The southern portion of the city is characterized by the steep slopes of various mountains (notably Tenguyama), where the altitude of the land sharply drops from the mountains to the sea. The land available between the coast and mountains has been almost completely developed, and the developed part of the city on the mountain slopes is called Saka-no-machi, or "Hill town", including hills named Funamizaka (Boat-view Hill) and Jigokuzaka (Hell Hill).

Aerial panoramic view of the town from above the sea

Neighboring cities and townsEdit

RiversEdit

Some of the rivers in Otaru are: Hoshioki, Kiraichi, Zenibako, Hariusu, Asari, Katsunai, Shioya, Myoken, Irifune.

ClimateEdit

In the summer the weather, like all of western Hokkaido, is very warm and balmy, with a maximum temperature of around 25 °C (77 °F) and high humidity – not as hot as southern Japan. In the winter, however, Otaru is very snowy, receiving as much as 6.6 metres (260 in) of snow from November to March, when it snows almost constantly and sunshine levels are extremely low. The average maximum snow cover is 1.22 metres (48 in). Extreme temperatures have ranged from 36.2 °C (97.2 °F) on July 28, 2021,[6] to −18.0 °C (−0.4 °F) on January 24, 1954, in which month the highest snowfall of 3.1 metres (122 in) occurred.[7] Monthly precipitation totals in a record dating back to 1943 have ranged from 379.8 millimetres (15.0 in) in August 1962 to 12.0 millimetres (0.5 in) in June 2007.[7]

Climate data for Otaru, 1991–2020 normals, extremes 1943–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 11.0
(51.8)
12.1
(53.8)
16.9
(62.4)
27.6
(81.7)
30.2
(86.4)
31.9
(89.4)
36.2
(97.2)
34.9
(94.8)
33.6
(92.5)
25.7
(78.3)
21.8
(71.2)
15.2
(59.4)
36.2
(97.2)
Average high °C (°F) −0.5
(31.1)
−0.2
(31.6)
4.1
(39.4)
10.9
(51.6)
16.9
(62.4)
20.4
(68.7)
24.2
(75.6)
25.6
(78.1)
22.3
(72.1)
15.9
(60.6)
8.3
(46.9)
1.6
(34.9)
12.5
(54.4)
Daily mean °C (°F) −3.1
(26.4)
−2.7
(27.1)
0.8
(33.4)
6.5
(43.7)
12.1
(53.8)
16.0
(60.8)
20.2
(68.4)
21.7
(71.1)
18.1
(64.6)
11.8
(53.2)
4.9
(40.8)
−1.1
(30.0)
8.8
(47.8)
Average low °C (°F) −5.8
(21.6)
−5.7
(21.7)
−2.4
(27.7)
2.6
(36.7)
7.9
(46.2)
12.5
(54.5)
17.1
(62.8)
18.4
(65.1)
14.3
(57.7)
7.9
(46.2)
1.6
(34.9)
−3.8
(25.2)
5.4
(41.7)
Record low °C (°F) −18.0
(−0.4)
−17.2
(1.0)
−14.1
(6.6)
−6.4
(20.5)
0.0
(32.0)
4.5
(40.1)
9.0
(48.2)
8.9
(48.0)
2.6
(36.7)
−1.4
(29.5)
−9.1
(15.6)
−13.5
(7.7)
−18.0
(−0.4)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 138.1
(5.44)
106.6
(4.20)
87.3
(3.44)
56.4
(2.22)
53.7
(2.11)
55.6
(2.19)
93.6
(3.69)
131.3
(5.17)
131.7
(5.19)
123.0
(4.84)
152.4
(6.00)
151.9
(5.98)
1,281.6
(50.47)
Average snowfall cm (inches) 157
(62)
130
(51)
80
(31)
7
(2.8)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
0
(0)
36
(14)
142
(56)
552
(216.8)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 22.8 18.6 16.1 10.0 9.0 7.4 8.3 9.6 11.3 14.1 18.1 21.7 167
Average snowy days (≥ 1 cm) 23.0 19.1 15.7 2.5 0 0 0 0 0 0.1 6.3 19.8 86.5
Average relative humidity (%) 71 70 66 64 69 78 81 78 73 69 69 71 72
Mean monthly sunshine hours 63.5 78.2 128.8 175.5 200.6 170.4 163.3 167.7 159.8 139.7 79.6 59.0 1,586.2
Source: Japan Meteorological Agency[8][9]

List of mayors (from 1923 to present)Edit

Name In office
Tota Sayanagi
(佐柳藤太)
August 16, 1923 – February 25, 1925
Fumihiko Kitagawa
(木田川奎彦)
September 19, 1925 – November 11, 1932
Miyakichi Itaya
(板谷宮吉)
December 11, 1933 – December 10, 1937
Naotaka Kawahara
(河原直孝)
April 5, 1938 – May 10, 1945
Kokichi Fukuoka
(福岡幸吉)
June 1, 1945 – November 12, 1946
Eitaro Suhara
(寿原英太郎)
April 2, 1947 – April 6, 1951
Yogoro Adachi
(安達与五郎)
April 25, 1951 – April 29, 1967
Name In office
Yu Inagaki
(稲垣祐)
April 30, 1967 – April 29, 1975
Kazuo Shimura
(志村和雄)
April 30, 1975 – April 29, 1987
Masaaki Shintani
(新谷昌明)
April 30, 1987 – April 29, 1999
Katsuma Yamada
(山田勝麿)
April 30, 1999 – April 29, 2011
Yoshiharu Nakamatsu
(中松義治)
April 30, 2011 – April 29, 2015
Hideaki Morii
(森井秀明)
April 30, 2015 – August 25, 2018
Toshiya Hazama
(迫俊哉)
August 26, 2018 – present

TransportationEdit

EducationEdit

UniversitiesEdit

NationalEdit

CollegesEdit

High schoolsEdit

PublicEdit

FormerEdit
  • Hokkaido Otaru Commercial High School
  • Hokkaido Otaru Technical High School

PrivateEdit

  • Futaba Gakuen High School
  • Hokusho High School
  • Otaru Meihou High School

Notable attractionsEdit

 
A view of Otaru Canal

A canal adorned with Victorian-style street lamps runs through Otaru. The city attracts a large number of Japanese tourists as well as Russian visitors.

A popular attraction on the west side of the city is Nishin Goten (herring mansion). This large wooden building was built in 1897 and was once the house of Fukumatsu Tanaka, a magnate of the fishing industry. It was originally built in nearby Tomari village and moved in 1958. Visitors can clearly see the difference between the squalid conditions of the first floor sleeping quarters of 120 workers and the ground floor luxury of the magnate's rooms.

Another notable building is the Sakaushi residence, constructed by Yoshiya Tanoue, a pupil of Frank Lloyd Wright.[10][11]

The Tomioka Catholic church is also a popular spot. Many of the buildings have been designated as landmark architecture.[12][clarification needed]

Otaru is well known for its beer, and Otaru Beer, next to the canal, is a popular restaurant with a medieval theme. Otaru is also known for its freshness sushi. Another food attraction unique to Otaru is the rainbow tower ice cream. The town also has substantial shopping arcades and bazaars, but fewer than nearby Sapporo.

Otaru's prominent industries are arts and crafts, such as studio glass and musical boxes. Of the latter, it maintains the Otaru Music Box Museum.

TenguyamaEdit

 
Otaru Tenguyama Ski Resort

Otaru is an important port for Sapporo, and part of this hilly city is on the lower slopes of Tenguyama, a good place for skiing and other winter sports and one that is accessible via Otaru Tenguyama Ropeway.

Sister citiesEdit

Notable peopleEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ metasato. "小樽 大蛇を殺した娘". 虫の知らせ ― 北海道の雨乞い、龍神信仰リサーチ ― (in Japanese). Retrieved October 31, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "白龍権現" (in Japanese). Retrieved October 31, 2020.
  3. ^ US Department of State. (1906). A digest of international law as embodied in diplomatic discussions, treaties, and other international agreements (John Bassett Moore, ed.), Vol. 5, p. 759.
  4. ^ Breu, Mary (2009). Last Letters from Attu: The True Story of Etta Jones, Alaska Pioneer and Japanese POW. Portland: Graphic Arts Books. p. 296. ISBN 978-0-88240-852-1.
  5. ^ The Asahi Shimbun. "朝日新聞デジタル:空襲の記憶 風化させぬ - 北海道 - 地域". www.asahi.com (in Japanese). Archived from the original on April 13, 2022. Retrieved April 13, 2022.
  6. ^ "47411: Otaru (Japan)". ogimet.com. OGIMET. July 28, 2021. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "観測史上1~10位の値(年間を通じての値)". Data.jma.go.jp. Retrieved August 20, 2014.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ 観測史上1~10位の値(年間を通じての値). JMA. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  9. ^ 気象庁 / 平年値(年・月ごとの値). JMA. Retrieved February 16, 2022.
  10. ^ "Npo 小樽ワークス". Archived from the original on November 4, 2011. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  11. ^ http://www.city.otaru.lg.jp.e.go.hp.transer.com/simin/gakushu_sports/kenzo/f_s/f_s74.html
  12. ^ http://www.city.otaru.lg.jp.e.go.hp.transer.com/simin/gakushu_sports/kenzo/f_s/f_s70.html
  13. ^ "Sister Cities of Otaru".

External linksEdit