Otaru (小樽市, Otaru-shi) is a city and port in Shiribeshi Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan, northwest of Sapporo. The city faces the Ishikari Bay, 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 grown as a bedroom community.
Top left: Otaru Canal
Top right: The Bank of Japan Otaru Museum
Location of Otaru in Hokkaido
|Prefecture||Hokkaido (Shiribeshi Subprefecture)|
|• Mayor||Toshiya Hazama (from August 2018)|
|• Total||243.13 km2 (93.87 sq mi)|
(July 31, 2019)
|• Density||474.37/km2 (1,228.6/sq mi)|
|Time zone||UTC+9 (Japan Standard Time)|
|- Tree||Shirakaba (Siberian Silver Birch)|
|- Bird||Aobato (Japanese Green Pigeon)|
|Address||2-12-1 Hanazono, Otaru-shi, Hokkaido|
As of 31 July 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.
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 memorized 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. 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).
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.
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.
Since the 1950s, as the coal industry around the city went into a decline, the status of economic hub shifted from Otaru to Sapporo.
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).
Neighboring cities and townsEdit
List of Mayors (from 1923 to present)Edit
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 34.9 °C (94.8 °F) on August 1, 2000 to −18.0 °C (−0.4 °F) on January 24, 1954, in which month the highest snowfall of 3.1 metres (122 in) occurred. 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.
|Climate data for Otaru (1981–2010)|
|Average high °C (°F)||−0.7
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−3.3
|Average low °C (°F)||−6.1
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||142.3
|Average snowfall cm (inches)||194
|Average precipitation days (≥ 0.5 mm)||25.5||22.0||19.7||12.7||10.7||8.6||10.3||10.2||12.5||16.4||20.9||23.5||193|
|Average snowy days||29.4||25.5||22.3||6.0||0.1||0||0||0||0||0.8||13.6||28.0||125.7|
|Average relative humidity (%)||70||69||66||64||69||77||80||78||72||67||67||70||71|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||66.2||78.1||129.8||176.4||200.6||184.0||164.2||171.6||164.5||145.9||82.4||63.4||1,627.1|
|Source: Japan Meteorological Agency|
- Hokkaido Otaru Choryo High School
- Hokkaido Otaru Ouyou High School
- Hokkaido Otaru Commercial High School
- Hokkaido Otaru Technical High School
- Hokkaido Otaru Fisheries High School
- Futaba Gakuen High School
- Hokusho High School
- Otaru Meihou High School
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 herring fishing industry. It was originally built in nearby Tomari village and moved from there 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.
In the nearby village of Asarigawa Onsen and perched atop of Asari Ski Resort comes a new Boutique Resort catering for outdoor leisure activity. Currently under development by LENKEN, another Wisbey Brothers Build, scheduled for completion in 2018.
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 the freshness of its 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 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.
- Seiji Aochi, ski jumper and Olympic medalist (1972 Winter Olympics)
- Yōko Asagami, Japanese voice actress (Space Battleship Yamato and City Hunter)
- Gennosuke Fuse, anatomist of the Meiji period
- Sei Itō, Japanese poet, novelist, and translator
- Chiaki Kawamata, Japanese science fiction writer and critic (Emblem of Roto)
- Yukie Kawamura, Japanese gravure idol, tarento, and actress
- Masaki Kobayashi, Japanese film director (The Human Condition, Harakiri, Samurai Rebellion and Kwaidan)
- Takiji Kobayashi, Japanese author of proletarian literature
- Masaru Konuma, Japanese film director (Roman Porno)
- Kōtetsuyama Toyoya, sumo wrestler (Real Name: Kōnoshin Suga, Nihongo: 菅 孝之進, Suga Kōnoshin)
- Natsuhiko Kyogoku, Japanese mystery writer, member of the Mystery Writers of Japan and the Honkaku Mystery Writers Club of Japan
- Motosaburo Masuyama, Japanese statistician
- Hideharu Miyahira, ski jumper
- Nobuko Miyamoto, Japanese actress
- Tetsuya Mizuguchi, video game designer and co-founder of Q Entertainment
- Takiko Mizunoe, Japanese actress, film producer, radio personality and TV presenter
- Maki Murakami, Japanese manga artist (Gravitation)
- Hideo Murota, Japanese actor (Shinde mo ii)
- Nobuo Nakamura, Japanese actor (Ikiru and Tokyo Story)
- Tetsuya Okabe, Alpine ski racer
- Yoko Takahashi, Japanese female mixed martial arts fighter, kickboxer and former boxer and professional wrestler
- Miyoshi Umeki, Academy Award-winning Japanese actress and standards singer
- Hibiki Ōtsuki, Japanese AV actress and idol singer
- Hirokazu Yagi, ski jumper
- Akiko Yamanaka, Japanese politician
- Ichiro Yamaguchi, musician (Sakanaction)
- Sawao Yamanaka, musician (The Pillows)
- Kazumi Yamashita, manga artist (The Life of Genius Professor Yanagizawa)
- 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 2020-10-31.
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- 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.
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- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-11-04. Retrieved 2015-11-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Sister Cities of Otaru
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