Otaru and the Otaru Aquarium: A Fun Day Trip!

  • January 07, 2020

Are you looking to explore more of Hokkaido whilst you are staying in Niseko? The vibrant and colourful Otaru Aquarium is now open for its Winter season and will be running shows that get you up close to some of the 250 species and over 5,000 creatures that live in the historical location.


otaru aquarium sea lion


Located just over an hour away from Niseko, Otaru is a large, yet quaint coastal city in Hokkaido’s north east and is perfect for a day trip if you’re looking to get out of of the ski village for the day. The Otaru Aquarium was founded in 1958 and is located right on the coast. It is also the largest aquarium in the entirety of Hokkaido. 



The aquarium primarily has creatures from the cold seas, but has a huge variety of exhibits and even a petting area where you can feel and interact with some of the wildlife. A few highlights include the famous curious and lively Gentoo penguins that go for a winter stroll, wild sea lions, spotted seals and even a walrus that will blow you a kiss!


otaru aquarium penguins


The Otaru Aquarium is well known for its shows as they allow the audience to get up-close-and-personal with sea life and take home some incredible memories. Whether you’re with your family, friends or by yourself it is sure to provide an entertaining day.


Otaru Aquarium Shows


otaru penguin walk aquarium


The most well known show at Otaru Aquarium is the famous Penguin Winter Stroll. This is where you can see the Gentoo penguins right up close as they waddle through the snow and have a wander around the area, often going on their own detours as they please! This show runs three times a day from 11:30am, 12:40pm and 2:40pm. 


dolphin show otaru aquarium


The South American sea lion also known as the Otaria is combined with the dolphin show in the Dolphin Stadium. The dolphins perform an array of synchronized tricks including spins, flips, dives and splashes. The show runs three times a day performing at 11:00am, 1:00pm and 3:00pm. 


walrus otaru aquarium shizuku


The last but certainly not least show is the very charming walrus named Shizuku! Shizuku translates to “Drop” and is the main walrus that performs at Otaru Aquarium. Shizuku is a bit of a show off, and a lover too! Shizuku shows the audience cute gestures and will even blow you a kiss if he likes you, in previous years Shizuku has also kissed the hands of some of the lucky guests. The show runs once at 1:30pm.


It is definitely worth taking a trip to the Otaru Aquarium if you’re looking for something different to do for the day outside of Niseko. There are also plenty of other things to do at Otaru whilst you are up there. 

The town is a thriving coastal city and has a European influence on its architecture. There is a famous walk along the Otaru Canal which features vintage oil lamps making it feel like you’ve leapt back through time. There is also a majestic festival called the Otaru Snow Light Path that is held between the dates Feb 8, 2020 - Feb 16, 2020 and features a combination of glittering lanterns and snow statues along the canal. If you’re in Otaru during this festival, we highly recommend checking out while you are there!


otaru lantern winter festival
Photo: JW Magazine


Otaru is also famous for its glassblowing. It is one of the primary producers and exporters of glass in Japan and was particularly famous for its oil lamps and glass balls that were used in the fishing industry. The blowers now produce a range of decorative and vibrant pieces that you can bring home with you. There is also a class that you can go to where you can learn to blow your own glass piece to see what it’s like!


otaru glass making
Photo: Niseko Promotion Board


Checking out all of these attractions can work up an appetite - why not indulge in some of the best fresh seafood available in Japan? Being a coastal town, Otaru takes great pride in their seafood production, and has some of the finest sushi that not only Hokkaido, but the entirety of Japan has to offer.


kaisen don fresh sushi sashimi in otaru


The last place that we recommend in Otaru is the famous Otaru Music Box Museum. Be taken back in time and appreciate the historic building and French music boxes that date back to 1912. If you want to take a piece of history back with you, some of the vintage music boxes are for sale. Don’t think that this is all there is to do in Otaru though, there is a bountiful supply of shops, antiques, cafes and restaurants to discover in the shopping street behind the main canal area.


music boxes otaru

otaru music box factory


How to get to Otaru


Like the sound of a day trip to Otau and want to know how to get there? Here at Vacation Niseko we offer a variety of services to help you make your way to Hokkaido’s favourite coastal city.

We offer various day tours and private transfers to get you and your group to and from Otaru, and can make sure that you make the trip comfortably and with plenty of time to make lasting memories.

Go and explore all that Otaru has to offer, if you are interested in booking a day trip, you can chat to our Guest Services team to make your trip as seamless as possible.




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