Trains, trains, ancient carvings, and TRAINS!

In order to not have to hurry for a change I went to Otaru. It’s quite close to Sapporo about 40 minutes by train and there’s an express train every 30 minutes in addition to a few local ones. (Also I went there before in winter.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASince Otaru is known for its glass work the station is full of fancy lamps.

So I left fairly late and was there at about 11am. My destination was the Temiya Cave. It’s located a bit outside the town centre so I took a bus. And then walked up a steep hill for a good amount of time. Unfortunately that was the wrong direction. (What’s new?) But I did find a nice park.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADon’t get fooled by the fog, it was really hot.

The cave is next to the Otaru General Museum so I just went there first. And it turned out to be a most amazing place. The first floor was about science with one room containing a lot of experiments to try yourself and the other displaying examples of technology mimicking nature (like rainwear which like lotus leaves repels water).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is in the engine that stood inside the museum.

The ground floor had information about the history of Japanese/Hokkaidō/Otaru railway.



And outside were an abundance of old engines, wagons and other train things from different time periods. Almost all of them were open to enter even the driver’s cabs. So many buttons and levers and wheels and no ‘Don’t touch!’ signs!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere were more than you can see here.


There was one engine that was moving, not sure where though because all the tracks ended at the end of the museum area which wasn’t too big.
And there was a separate building with a lot of train/engine/(I don’t know technology) parts displayed.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANo, it didn’t smell too nice in the wagons to be honest, especially with the heat. But so what?

So yeah, it’s an absolutely awesome place.


Then I went to the cave and was kinda disappointed. It was more like a small room with some information boards and a glass window behind which you could see the cave wall with some really old carvings. They also had some old dishes/pottery displayed, presumably found there. The entrance fee was only 100¥ and it was nice and chilly, so I don’t really have a reason to complain.


Places, Uncategorized

More snow and kitsch in Otaru

While in Sapporo snow and ice was used to create giant castles the neighbouring town Otaru had their annual “Otaru Snow Light Path” which we went to see. Shop owners, school children and volunteers make snow sculptures to put candles in turning the town centre into a magical fairy tale place at night. Since it takes place around the same time as the Sapporo Snow Festival there are already a lot of tourists in the area plus Otaru is a very touristic place all around the year. Understandably: Many pretty old houses (I could only think of like three buildings here in Sapporo that look older than 50 years), a beautiful canal promenade, the sea and more.


At the canal

The snow candles range from simple bucket-moulded piles with a hole over coloured ice with flowers to whole walls full of ornaments and candles. There are some spots around the town where they are especially focused but as it attracts customers a lot of shops have some in front of them (usually just small ones, but still).


Sculpture inviting customers in front of a shop

We wanted to see the lights at the canal but some other people seemed to have had the same idea. It was really crowded and almost impossible to see anything. So the many small lights in the streets were very welcome. Unfortunately I didn’t take many pictures during daytime and my camera sucks in the dark.

more light

Lights made from coloured ice in a shopping arcade

As mentioned Otaru is very touristic with many gift shops most of them sell fancy glassware. According to Wikipedia, ‘Otaru’s prominent industries are arts and crafts’.


In one of the many glass ware shops

There also is a music box museum. ‘Though I’m not sure whether it deserves the term ‘museum’. Most of the building is used to sell music boxes in every shape, colour, size and material and other decorative things. But there are some old music boxes, gramophones and similar machines displayed as well as some information on their history. I would have loved to learn something about how they work or how they’re built. But love that place nonetheless because kitsch. Another plus is that there’s relatively a lot of English.


Steam clock music boxes

In front of the music box museum is a steam powered clock, originating from Gastown, Vancouver.  Instead of bells it has whistles and white steam telling the time.


The inside of this pile of snow is full of candles

We also went to see the sea for a bit before we headed home. It was a lovely moment ‘cause no one was there, the only light came from one warehouse at the docks (and omnipresent light pollution, duh), but just 5 minutes ago we were surrounded by thousands of candles, street laps, billboard signs and so many people that my classmates said it’s just like in China.


Round light made from ice with leaves

Definitely want to go there again when it’s a bit warmer.