Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Sakaimachi Street - Look, See, Eat, Shop Down Memory Lane @ Otaru [Hokkaido, Japan]

If you are faced with limited time in the scenic port city of Otaru and would like to make it worth your trouble, just go straight to Sakaimachi Street where there are plenty to look, see, eat and shop!

After exploring the fascinating music box museum at the corner of the T-junction that leads down to the merchant street, i noticed this structure that looked like a replica of a lighthouse. Bet there must be a story about it although i couldn't find much English information about it.

It was summer in Hokkaido and such open air festivals, where people just lounge around to drink beer and bask in the performances of local musicians, were said to be common.

Free WiFi - please be assured that there are plenty of instagram-worthy spots and such free network would come in handy for you to upload the pictures to your social media account!

Absolutely adore the melon bear mascot; classic move was to open its mouth big big to create the visual illusion that the ferocious being is going to chomp down a human's head.

Many old buildings lined the almost 800-meter long street and as it was already quite late when we arrived; we didn't manage to check out every one of them.

Closure of the road to convert it into a pedestrian street; not sure if it is a permanent arrangement but i must admit it made walking a lot less dangerous without motor vehicles zooming past us while we struggled to make full use of our limited time!

Wind chimes strung to the lampposts - so relaxing to hear their crystal crisp melodies in the cool, breezy summer day! 

Otaru is renowned for its glassware and you can find dozens of commercial entities hawking their products! I love glass yet at the same time, i am afraid as countless items have been destroyed by my butter fingers.

Nevertheless, you can't deny their dazzling beauty!

Dessert time - melon double fromage cake together with the original Double Fromage Cheesecake and Lab Lab Choux at LeTAO Cheese Cake Lab. For review, click here.

Smoking corner! I did notice during my trips that smoking areas are usually decked out with vending machines too. Maybe the smokers need a drink to cover the cigarette smell after a puff.

More wind chimes; seemed like there was a display of glass wind chimes by different factories and designers on the day we visited.

All the while, i thought the above was kindly put out by the shopkeeper for cats to hide from the sun or the snow but after i ran through the wordings using google translate; i think it was a furnace for glass making. Cheated my feelings....

Aside from LeTAO, Otaru is also famous for two other dessert brands; Rokatei (六花亭) and Kitakaro (北菓楼) and they are nicely located next to each other! 

I didn't have any more stomach to try any more dessert but even if i were able to; i can't as the cafe at Kitakaro (北菓楼) was already closed. 

Sampling was also limited as it's nearing closing time. I should have visited Japan when i am younger given my higher metabolism and larger (stomach) capacity for sweet things then! 

Always on the lookout for piggy banks to add to my collection, i was ecstatic to find the above in a shop. Sadly, the material was hard-plastic and they were priced beyond my threshold.

And why was the coin slot at the bottom?! 

An exquisite, delicate gift for those who love to write - the glass pens! For more pictures and the prices, please click here

6.30 pm and the street was still pretty crowded; can't imagine if i were to reach at the peak afternoon period when most shops would be open for business. 

Doesn't this remind you of a house in medieval Europe?

Glass bowls; the whole shop was literally filled with easily breakable materials. No matter how pretty they look, i wouldn't buy them as the risk for me to break them into a million pieces is sky high.

Limited summer edition. 

More shops; no time to enter as it's dinnertime and the fried chicken we had for lunch at Wakadori Jidai Naruto Honten was long digested. 

Oh my gosh, this would be a die die must have for my piggy bank collection; pity, they were pure glass. I kept searching for glass piggy banks and disappointingly, couldn't find any on this inaugural trip to Japan. 

Wah, a nice photo spot! 

Cannot anyhow hor as the rickshaw had an owner although you can engage his pulling service to ride around the place for a fee. Unlike the often thin, scrawny trishaw riders we see in Singapore, the rickshaw pullers wore incredibly short shorts to show off their muscular calves! 

An out-of-place structure; likely a cargo container that had undergone a makeover.

Nature was halfway through eating the concrete building. 

Facade filled with pictures of mouthwatering dishes; eatery was closed though. 

Divination lots; as it was in Japanese, we didn't want to spend that 100 yen on something we can't even read and understand. 

Street view again - at this point, the street lamps had started lighting up.

Wind chimes outside a shop; in Singapore, putting out a wind chime might not be such a good idea given the thunderstorms and strong winds we face. It can be very eerie hearing the chimes late at night. 

Old school Japanese building!

This "Island Spirit" shop is interesting; basically you choose three pendants according to your horoscope, your blood type and the charm you would like and string them up into a necklace to be worn. Frankly, i kind of regretted not getting it.

Cute dog on a walk! 

Now, i have mentioned to friends that i enjoyed the food in Japan even though i did face a few cases where the food failed to impress; like this takopachi lookalike which was essentially bad tasting pancake rolled into a ball and drenched in cloyingly sweet syrup.

So adorable! I think Hokkaido doesn't rain much during summer as the humongous dolls would be ruined should rain suddenly strike; which is often the case in our little red dot. 

See that round moon in the sky? It was a day before the 15th day of the lunar month.

Another photo spot - i believe i would have a great time taking photos of the expressive Jovyn if she were to visit Sakaimachi Street with me! 

Another ancient Japanese dwelling. 

Ainu cultural products; who knows about the Ainu? They are the "indigenous people of Japan" and were mostly concentrated in northern Japan, especially Hokkaido.

What's ahead of us again!? 

More wind chimes; this time on eye-catching red racks! 

I should have generated a separate post since there were so many pictures on the wind chime displays. Problem is, i don't have much to talk about them since they seemed to be of the same shape and size but with varying patterns. 

More food options; like true blue Singaporeans, the six of us relied heavily on crowd within the restaurants and length of the queue to determine if the place is worth a try. 

Anpanman; a very popular comic character in Japan! 

Golden retriever! Although i have indicated many times that i am never going to keep a pet again; we all know that it's always too early to say never. Should that never turn to opportunity, i would love to have a golden retriever or a mongrel as a pet. 

Want to be a Japanese for a few hours and walk around with a kimono? You may rent the attire in the above shop for 3,800 yen (less than S$50) for an hour, 4,800 yen for two hours or 5,800 yen for three hours! 

Would love to have another taste of the rich and creamy Hokkaido milk! At one stage in Japan, i was craving so much for the milk; i resorted to buying a liter pack from a supermarket. 

Many people were crowding around the above and being the typical, nosy Singaporeans Alex and i are, we knew we had to take a closer look. 

Seemed like some kind of light ceremony even though i am clueless as to its origin and cultural significance. I did notice a lot of youngsters though. 

Maybe those who understand Japanese can enlighten me...

Honestly, i had the intention to purposely arrange for a day trip to Otaru when i was in Sapporo as i didn't explore the city sufficiently. In the many shops that we walked past, they were more than just shopping as some of them would arrange for workshops to make glass; a couple few were museums etc. 

And i didn't feel that i had spent enough time soaking in the relaxed atmosphere! Sadly, we didn't make it back to Otaru as we had to rely heavily on public transport in Sapporo and that kind of tired us out. 

This rickshaw was there for decorative purpose and i had to ask Alex to be my model. Yes, he was still holding on to that disgusting pancake ball thingy! 

Last picture to wrap up the post! 



Map of Otaru 
As above. 

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