February 21, 13 | Takako Chiba
Otaru is a popular destination for tourists in Hokkaido, but one underappreciated part of the city is actually the front door: JR Otaru Station.
As one of the most popular sightseeing cities in Hokkaido, Otaru is a charming city with historic buildings along Wall Street and gas lamps lining the canal. It’s a city where you can take your time and enjoy exploring the city.
The gateway to Otaru, JR Otaru Station was under renovation from September, 2010 until last April when it was reopened. Hokkaido Likers recommends the station as one of the best places to see in Otaru city.
“It’s just a station, isn’t it?” is the common thought that makes most people miss out on the beauty of the station.
Based on a concept of “Nostalgic Modern,” the station building was painted white with dark brown trim and decorations to give it that modern impression. The lamps on the façade and by the ticket gate entrance continue the nostalgic theme.
During the daytime, you can see the distinction of pink and blue lamp bases, giving them a kind of casual impression. In contrast, the lamps give the building a very distinct romantic mood come evening.
From the early hours of night, it’s so easy to just enjoy gazing at the lamps. As the dark of night sets in, the lamps’ distinct brightness stands out, and time spent staring at the twinkling of the lights passes quickly.
The lamps are even used on the platform of the station. As Otaru is known for its glasswork, it is only fitting that these lamps, made from Kitaichi Glass, decorate the station. These lamps give Otaru a romantic feeling especially at night.
▲ You won't notice them very much during the day…
▲ But come night, this is what you’ll find.
▲ Is it just me or don’t the lamps remind you a little bit of a Harry Potter world?
Otaru’s “super hero” is Yu-chan, Mr. Yujiro Ishihara. Platform number four is called Yujiro’s Platform, with a Yu-chan panel and his sailboat-inspired platform sign. This is truly a must-see.
There’s also a new shopping zone at the station.
For a complete selection of Otaru souvenirs, head to Hokkaido Shikisaikan Otaru Shop (北海道四季彩館小樽店). In the Shiribeshi Tube there are various shops for Hokkaido delicacies, a sushi bar, as well as station shop of Tarushe, cafes, and fast food. Even if you only take your time in this part of the station, it’s enough to have fun.
▲ Even the lighting here has a nostalgic design to it.
If you go to Otaru, you might want to make a point of taking time to enjoy and really appreciate the Otaru station.
■ JR Otaru Station, Otaru City Inaho 2-chome 22-15
■ JR Hokkaido
■ Timetable (for Otaru)
※ There are also “free” and “leisure” tickets available for Otaru.
For further details, please contact JR Hokkaido’s homepage.
( Hokkaido Likers Writer – Chiba Takako )
(Photography: Hokkaido Likers Editorial Department)