On this tour, we will visit Otaru Port and Otaru Canal, both of which were instrumental to the development of Hokkaido in pioneer days. We will stroll along Otaru Canal, which still retains its original appearance and has been reborn as a sightseeing spot.
Otaru Port developed as the gateway to Hokkaido during the days of pioneers. During the pioneer days of Hokkaido’s development, large ships moored offshore, and their cargoes was landed in barges.
With gradual increases in cargo amounts, the need arose for more efficient cargo hauling. To extend the piers for barges, parts of the sea area were reclaimed, and Otaru Canal was created.
Otaru Canal was completed in 1923. The canal was constructed not by excavating land but by leaving part of the sea area during reclamation to expand the pier. This is why the canal is not straight. The gently curving water line is a feature of this canal. The times changed, and the development of a quay at Otaru Port progressed during the postwar period. The mission of Otaru Canal ended. In 1986, after more than ten years of controversy over the reclamation of this old canal, part of it was reclaimed. Half of its width was built over with roads, and the present Otaru Canal was reborn with newly constructed walkways and street gardens. The total length of the canal is 1140m. Where the canal follows Prefectural Road Rinko-sen Street, the width is 20m, and the north part of the canal (common name: North Canal) is 40m wide, which was the original width of the canal. Sixty-three street gaslights are installed along the walkways, and the stone warehouses remain as they were during the early days. Some of the warehouses have been repurposed as restaurants. At dusk, the street gaslights start to shine and the stone warehouses are illuminated. The lights create an atmosphere different from that of the daytime.
On this tour, we will visit the whiskey distillery in Yoichi Town.
Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Nikka Whisky, is called “the father of Japanese whiskey.” This is where he finally arrived after his quest for a whiskey-making paradise: Yoichi, Hokkaido.
Masataka Taketsuru thought that a location with a cool, wet climate like that of Scotland, abundant water resources, and clear air was indispensable for ideal whiskey production. From among various candidate locations in Japan, he selected Yoichi, a town that is west of Otaru and is at the base of the Shakotan Peninsula. The ready availability of barley, which is the main ingredient in malt whiskey, and of peat, which adds a smoky flavor, were other good conditions of this location for whiskey-making.
At that time, Yoichi was wasteland of weeds, bogs and clods of soil. But Taketsuru sensed that Yoichi, a wilderness with sea breezes, was the ideal location for whiskey-making.
In 1934, Dai Nippon Kaju (Japan Fruit Juice) Co., Ltd., the predecessor of Nikka Whisky, was established in Yoichi. Two years later, the first coal was fed to the boiler for the pot still at Yoichi Distillery. (https://www.nikka.com/distilleries/yoichi/feature/distillery.html)
This tour starts with a visit to Hoheikyo Dam. We will walk through the inspection passage of the dam, view the interior of the dam and watch water pour out of the spillway outlet. After visiting the dam, we will go to the top of Mt. Moiwa and view Sapporo.
Hoheikyo Dam is in the Minami ward of Sapporo. The dam was completed in 1972 for flood control of the Toyohira River and power generation. The height of this arch concrete dam is 102.5m. The reservoir, Lake Jozan, has a water reserving capacity of 47,100,000m3 (about 30 times the volume of Sapporo Dome). The area surrounding the dam is a scenic spot with many steep rock slopes. In addition to the exciting discharge of water for tourists, the surrounding area forms a landscape of great natural splendor. In fall, it is very popular for fall-foliage viewing in Sapporo. (http://www.sapporo.travel/find/nature-and-parks/hoheikyo_dam/)
On this tour, we will visit the Hokkaido University Museum and stroll around the university campus. The campus is full of greenery and is well known as a popular walking spot for its rows of poplars and ginkgoes.
The Hokkaido University Museum is an admission-free museum on the Hokkaido University campus. This stately old historic building was constructed in 1929 and was used as the main building of the Science Department until 1999. The museum houses over 3 million documents and specimens collected, preserved and studied since the foundation of the university as Sapporo Agricultural College more than 140 years ago. There are many must-see exhibits including a huge skeleton of an adult Holstein bull and a full-scale model of a mammoth. In the “Display for feeling” room, visitors can touch the specimens. In the “Museum lab” room, a seismometer that can register even light kicks to the floor is displayed, and other items usually found only at research sites are displayed. There are many items that excite visitors’ curiosity. In the July 2016 renewal, displays that demonstrate education and studies of all 12 departments of the university were added. Museum Café, where light meals and drinks are served, was also added. (http://www.sapporo.travel/find/culture/hokkaido_university_museum/)