Otaru has been Hokkaido’s main port since the Meiji period. During the Bunka era (1804-1818), Otaru flourished with herring fishing. In 1893, development of a canal, began due to the increase of ships and cargos involved in the herring industry. After many twists and turns, the Otaru Canal was finally completed in September 1923. In those days, there were more than 400 barges and, from far and wide, their lively sound could be heard. At the beginning of the Showa period, Sapporo, which was linked to Otaru started to rapidly develop and traffic on the Otaru Canal declined. By 1955, the number of barges in the canal had decreased to about 100. In 1966, the Otaru Harbor Line Road was completed and an order was passed for the reclamation of the Otaru Canal. However, many people were against the order, which was disputed for16 years. In the end, half the southern side of the canal was redeemed. Today, stone warehouses have been turned into shops and museums and the gas lamps built along the canal romantically illuminate the water of the Otaru Canal.
- Otaru Canal