Otaru (小樽市 Otaru-shi) is a city and port in Shiribeshi Subprefecture, Hokkaido, Japan, northwest of Sapporo. The city faces the Ishikari Bay, and has long served as the main port of the bay. With its many historical buildings, Otaru is a popular tourist destination. Because it is a 25-minute drive from Sapporo, it has recently grown as a bedroom community.

Sometimes known as the “Venice of Japan,” Otaru has preserved its historic and picturesque canals lined with brick warehouses and gas lights. The Venice connection has been expanded to include a new focus on glass-blowing in the city.

Out on the coast at Shukutsu are the “Herring Mansions” and “Herring Villas” of the so-called Herring Barons, who helped bring prosperity to Otaru during the development of Hokkaido from the 1880s onwards.

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