During your time in Sapporo, make a day trip to the nearby harbor city of Otaru to explore its unique canals and preserved herring mansions that offer a glimpse into Otaru’s past as a herring fishing hub. Today, the town’s cobblestone streets are hung with picturesque gas lamps, and the stone warehouses along its network of canals have been converted into a vibrant community of cafes, restaurants, shops and glassworks.
Glassblowers are especially revered here, and you can visit local glassmakers like Kitaichi Glassworks Company, or take a glass blowing lesson at the Glass Studio. Other sights include the Otaru museum, housed in a restored warehouse, and the Music Box Museum, which has a half dozen locations around town and a collection of more than 25,000 music boxes.
Otaru is less than 25 miles northwest of downtown Sapporo, making it an easy and fun day trip. You can catch a train from Sapporo Station, and the trip takes just 30 minutes. Once there, the town itself is small enough to explore on foot, or you can rent a bicycle.