|Glass art workshop / store|
I am glad that I took the train during the day, instead of after getting dark. The view from the train was fantastic, though a little monochromatic. The train passes through the coast, the mountains, and the cities.
|Ishikari Plain, after the snow and rain, shining in the sun|
|One of the historic bank buildings in Otaru|
|A historic building on sale|
|This old merchant's shop/house is on rent - nice black wall|
|It has a "Urban Design Award" plate on the wall... makes it sadder|
Otaru is so lonely, looks so deserted. Of course, part of it is my fault, because I came here at the least crowded time. But, still. A lot of beautiful warehouses and bank buildings are empty. What is sad is that they seemed to have been in use until quite recently, and then just went out of business. I am staying here for 2 nights but there are not really enough things to do. I walked to the west-most part, then to the east-most part. I even went up the hill and came down (no tourist spot there). I found just one very nice cafe during my entire walk.
|Beautiful Ryokan (Japanese hotel) building - empty|
|This one still in use as a factory|
|Nice back ally|
|A cafe and a bar housed in an old warehouse|
There are many other restaurants and cafes housed within the historic buildings, but they all look so-so, not really fantastic. Otaru seaport is not strong enough compared to other seaports in the north, so the fishery industry has been on decline. Tourism is doing great, but not enough to support the small town. They need one more something to hold up the local economy. Need more population in the central part. The only crowded area was the gift shop street, but who needs that many gift shops?
|A most unusual road-side tree I'd ever seen|
|A glass factory where I tried glassblowing|
|Snowed, melted, and frozen streets...|
Probably one of my most favorite buildings in the town is below. Some sort of warehouse on the bay. Looks modern, totally practical, yet somehow details are beautiful, for example its colors. It also has 4 different types of floor-to-floor connections, which I found truly fascinating.
|A warehouse with beautiful rust and gray combo|
Some best parts of the town.
|A row of warehouses along a canal, a famous tourist spot|
|An old entrance to the building|
I couldn't resist taking the pictures because:
(1) It has a great atmosphere of Japanese and Western styles mixed. This place is so like a favorite of my professor, who happens to have been heavily involved in this city (so the owner must know him).
(2) The building, according to the owner, used to be a general insurance agent office since almost 100 years ago till 30 years ago. The small window-like entrance is the old office entrance (the last photo). You see, Otaru used to be the prosperous seaport. Hence, the marine insurance. Well, I work for a general insurance company, so I had to take the record.