Driving anywhere in Hokkaido is a challenge. After driving on the right side of the road in the US for several weeks, Ted had to remember to drive on the left here. Knowing how to get somewhere is difficult when everything is in Japanese.
The paper map
The road signs
Otaru isn’t that far away, but the fastest speed limit on the roads there is 50 kilometers per hour, plus there are a lot of traffic signals. Some signals say stop and go at the same time!
We like aquariums and frequently visited the ones along the North Carolina and South Carolina coasts. The Otaru aquarium was our main destination yesterday. The main building is high on a hill, with the show areas outside, down near the water.
Flash photos were prohibited, so some of my pictures aren't as clear as they would be otherwise. Near the entrance was this little display that I think is some kind of shrine.
We saw lots of interesting fish and other creatures, some we were familiar with and others native to Asia.
The otters had two areas connected by a water tunnel under the floor and an overhear tunnel in the ceiling.
Outside and down a very long steep hill, we saw shows with the penguins and sealions.
We really enjoyed the aquarium and stayed well past our usual lunch time. We stopped at this Japanese seafood restaurant and had grilled scallops and mussels in a miso broth.
Otaru grew prosperous with the herring fishing in the early 1900’s and the historical places tell this story. After our lunch and a walk along the shore, we visited Nishin Goten (Herring Mansion), which is high on a hill overlooking the Japan Sea. It was originally build by Fukumatsu Tanaka, one of the wealthy fishermen’s bosses. Construction of the building took seven years, with its completion in 1897. During the busy fishing season as many as 120 fishermen lived in the house. The Mansion is currently owned by the Otaru City Tourism Section and is operated as a museum.
We had a wonderful day at the coast.