Otaru is one of Hokkaido's key ports, primarily servicing the nearby city of Sapporo. Otaru is famous, amongst other things, for its Sushi, although it is noted as being some of the most expensive Sushi in Japan!
The city is centred around a picturesque canal which was once a central part of the city's busy harbor in the first half of the 20th century. Large vessels offshore would unload their cargo onto smaller boats, which then transported the goods to warehouses along the canal.
Modern port facilities which allowed for direct unloading of larger vessels rendered the canal obsolete. A local “citizens' movement” were successful in lobbying for a part of the canal to be beautifully restored in the 1980s instead of simply being used as landfill. The warehouses lining the canal were transformed into shops, cafes, museums and restaurants to add to the restoration of the canal area. Local artists present their works to people strolling past along the banks of the canal.
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