Day 02 – Sapporo to Otaru – Pouring rain and beautiful Otaru


Start: 10:00 / Arrival: 14:15
Distance: 36km / Gained height 367 hm

Forecast for the day was heavy rain and it was right. While getting breakfast at the convenience store it already started. Still ok for riding, but we didn’t know how it will be during later the day.

Planned for today was 100km with loads of height meters – after starting it was quickly clear that this is not manageable. Leaving Sapporo was ok, as it were the first kilometres in a new environment. But rain started to get heavier.

Put on rain gear over the already wet clothes as the rain increased. Rainfall here is different to the ones we know in Germany, so as it got heavier, we seeked for some shelter in a cloth washing space and planning how we would proceed. Still haven’t found any reliable source for forecasts, so just continued riding as it stopped.

On top when rain was the heaviest, my racks lost the rails, bent the fenders – but it was repairable…yet in heavy rain. Approaching the coast and finally Otaru it got better. Beautiful landscape and the first glance of Otaru looked really promising.

Found a super nice private run hostel and checked in, took a shower and went for a walk to the harbour. After calming down a bit and warming up in dry clothes we continued to explore Otaru.

Our expectations where quite low, but this town really surprised us. Japanese towns can look sometimes quite retro, but Otaru is special. The salty air from the seaside results in many buildings having a rusty, wabi sabi style texture.

Time seems to be frozen here.

While exploring the town we found so many nice places. From rusty industrial buildings to toy shops, which newest’s article were from the 80s (everything being bleached out from the sea sun) – we found finaly a local fish market.

Although being almost to closing time we tried everything that we could get a hand on. Marinated squid sashimi, pollack roe salad, sweet shiso snacks – all for cheap prices and fresh as it could get, made by old japanese ladies on the spot. Delicious!

After checking out the train station and various shopping streets, being witnesses to a super surreal business meeting just within those streets. Kids playing piano, teddy bears sitting on a table – weird.

Got some tasty sake from a shop playing Yumi Arai, and went to get some food while also having a look at Otaru old town, which is so beautiful. I went for some Donburi (rice bowl with toppings) and had raw mantis squid, scallops and caviar accompanied by super tasty rice. Tobi’s salmon was also of a quality not known back home. Fisherman’s goods, as fresh as it could get, served for us.

Delicious! The sashimi scallops even brought tears to my eyes….

Then went for a stroll along the canal which Otaru is famous for, old buildings, many japanese tourists and a chilled atmosphere. So relaxing.

When returning to the hostel the owners where still awake, so had a nice and small chat with them. Turned out they imigrated from China. Lovely folks and  definitely a recommended stay.

They even presented us a basket with our previously wet and dirty clothes, now clean and dry – such a big help. After receiving that went to bed, first day of riding, eyes heavy and fell soon asleep.

Nevertheless woke up in the middle of the night, clouds over the surrounding mountain had disappeared and leaving an image of a dreamy Otaru without the rainy weather.

This town is highly recommended!

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