“Otaru” has a rich history as a Japanese port city, dating from 1899. The unique port town, near “Otaru canal” and “Otaru’s Music Box Museum,” is world famous and when visitors view the historical town they are transported back in time. “Otaru” is located in Hokkaido, which is cold and snowy in winter. During winter, it has a romantic candle lit trail festival. The event is called the “Otaru Snow and Candle Festival” or the “Otaru Snow Light Path,” lined with merchant, and volunteer (local and international) created snow sculptures and candles. It is estimated that 500,000 tourists from all over the world visit this serene, peaceful event.
This festival, started in 1999, is held yearly for a 10-day period in February, in two primary locations. The “Unga Kaijo,” area which is located along 300 meters of the town’s famous canal that is lined with restored warehouses and gas lamps. The canal is covered with small buoys that hold candles. Along the canal path there is a row of small candle lit snow statues. The canal is a ten-minute walk from Otaru Station, on the main road leading from the station. Between the canal and the train station is the “Temiyasen Kaijo,” area, which stretches for about half a kilometer along the tracks of the abolished “Temiyasen” railway line. During the festival, lanterns and illuminated snow statues also line the pathway. Both areas are candle illuminated after sunset. The snow’s whiteness and candle flame create a magnificent contrast. Also, a visitor can eat sushi or sweets and enjoy the taste of the city.
“Otaru” is a one day trip from “Sapporo,” located in Hokkaido. It’s only 30 minutes from Sapporo. From Tokyo, take the plane to Sapporo and then take the train to Otaru. Total trip time takes approximately 3.5 hours.
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