Hello, I’m Takamori, a curator at UNWIND HOTEL&BAR Otaru.
The curator at LIVELY HOTELS specializes in providing unique local information, distinct from the role of a concierge. We are here to assist in making your travels more fulfilling.
I would like to introduce some tips and recommended spots for enjoying winter in Otaru.
▲ Winter Annual Event: Snow Light Path (February)
『Winter Temperature in Otaru』
Before starting Otaru sightseeing, it’s important for everyone to know about the winter temperature in Otaru.
As we enter the heart of winter in December, the average temperature is approximately -1.0°C, making it quite cold for those from outside the region.
The outdoor temperature is so cold that it falls below freezing, but in places like train stations, accommodations and restaurants, stoves and heating are naturally in effect.
Therefore, the temperature difference between indoors and outdoors can exceed 20°C.
▲ Snow Light Path – Your attire decides how cold you will feel
In such an environment with temperature differences, one thing to be cautious about is chill caused by sweating.
If you go outside below freezing after lightly sweating indoors with heating, you will quickly feel cold from the core.
As a primary precaution, it is recommended to wear outerwear that is easy to put on and take off, and opt for breathable innerwear rather than highly insulating innerwear that traps sweat.
During your precious trip, make sure to take proper precautions to avoid catching a cold.
Until mid-December, snow falls lightly and constantly disappears.
Be careful on the white lines of pedestrian crossings, where the snow is often so thin and icy that it is difficult to see, and can be quite slippery.
Be especially careful before the snow becomes lingering snow, a slippery snow that makes a squeaky sound when you step one it.
Main precautions include:
・Walk with both hands outstretched… This is a defensive posture in case of a fall. It can be serious if you hit your head. Be conscious of not walking while using your smartphone and not using an umbrella.
・Don’t be careless even in snow-free areas… Even where there is no snow and it appears like asphalt, the road surface may be slippery. Walk with caution.
・Avoid getting close to areas under roofs… Every year, there are people who get injured due to falling snow or ice from roofs. Since there are often no warning signs, try to walk along paths that do not approach the eaves as much as possible.
Please be aware of clothing that can withstand below-freezing temperatures, non-slip shoes and walking carefully.
『Important Points to Note』
In addition to cold weather and walking precautions, it is highly recommended to research and inquire about the operating hours and reservations of restaurants and souvenir shops.
Otaru, in particular, has early closing times for shops. Many souvenir shops close around 5 p.m., and even restaurants, especially those that close early, shut down by 8 p.m..
When checking the operating hours of shops in Otaru online, keep in mind that even if it says “business days,” individually owned shops may change their operating hours and business days with just one notice posted, so it’s safer to contact them by phone.
During peak periods, restaurants may be too crowded to accommodate customers, so be sure to do your research and, if possible, make reservations!
Our facility also assists with restaurant reservations!
Now, we will introduce recommended spots in Otaru that are easily accessible from the hotel and where you can fully enjoy winter.
▲ Winter Exclusive: Penguin Snow Stroll
For those who want to experience the nature of the Otaru coastal area, Otaru Aquarium is a must-visit.
In the “Kaiju Park” area on the premises, there is a pool separated from the sea by fences, where seals and sea lions live in a setting close to the wild.
A few years ago, a wild seal crossed over the fence and entered the pool. The story of how it employed itself at the aquarium became famous.
The coastline facing the Kaiju Park is designated as a national park, allowing you to witness rich nature up close. During the winter season, they also offer several penguin snow strolls throughout the day, making it a spot enjoyable for people of all ages.
As it is along the sea, there are days when the wind is strong. Please be cautious and enjoy, especially in blizzards or strong winds.
Buses also depart from Otaru Station, providing excellent accessibility.
Next, we will introduce a perfect spot to warm up your body that has become chilled to the core at Otaru Aquarium.
B3 COFFEE OTARU
▲ Top-Class Flat White Coffee in Otaru
In Otaru, there is a nightlife district, the Hanazono area, which is arguably the only one in the city and is about a 15-minute walk from both our hotel and Otaru Station.
This area, which has long been at the heart of Otaru, is known for hosting government offices and a plethora of dining establishments.
In Hanazono, people with diverse cultures from outside the region and even abroad have opened various shops.
B3 COFFEE OTARU is one such establishment in this area.
This café is operated by an Australian owner, his wife from Kansai, and their three children.
The name “B3” in the shop’s name signifies the Black family of three. Naming the shop after a family-derived word gives a glimpse of the closeness within the family.
The highly recommended menu item is undoubtedly the Flat White. This coffee, brewed with an espresso machine, originates from Australia and is a genuine coffee that can be enjoyed not only for its taste but also for its appearance.
In the winter chill of Otaru, where the average temperature drops below freezing, why not enjoy the best coffee surrounded by a warm atmosphere and a warm family?
[Cafe Name] B3 COFFEE OTARU
[Address] 1-7-6 Hanazono, Otaru City
[Business Hours] (Winter): 10:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Last order at 7 p.m.)
After rejuvenating with a warm cup of coffee, how about indulging in a bit of art?
Otaru Art Village
▲ One of Otaru Art Village’s Gems: Former Mitsui Bank Otaru Branch, a National Designated Important Cultural Property
In recent times, Otaru has been experiencing excitement from various facets, and one significant factor is “art and culture.”
One catalyst for this movement is the Otaru Art Village, established by the Nitori Cultural Foundation in 2016.
The Otaru Art Village comprises four buildings, including the Former Mitsui Bank Otaru Branch shown in the photo, the Stained Glass Art Museum, the Nitori Art Museum and the Western Art Museum. Visitors can enjoy precious artworks and cultural heritage.
Located right in front of our hotel, the National Designated Important Cultural Property, the Former Mitsui Bank Otaru Branch, is particularly romantic during the winter light-up, offering an impressive sight just from its exterior.
Moreover, the Nitori Art Museum hosts various exhibitions depending on the season. From November 23rd to January 30th of the following year, they plan to showcase the globally popular “Mucha Exhibition,” followed by a three-part series of exhibitions featuring ukiyo-e, including Katsushika Hokusai, from December 28 to April 2 of the following year.
All buildings within Otaru Art Village are within walking distance from the hotel, making it perfect for a leisurely stroll. The option to purchase a common ticket for all four buildings adds to the convenience. Note that each building has different admission fees and opening hours depending on the season.
Be sure to check the official website for details.
Otaru Art Village Official Website
▲ Finally, let us introduce BAR Ignis within our hotel.
We apologize for highlighting our own facility, but the hotel bar is perfect, especially during the winter.
For guests, the advantage is that they can rest in their rooms immediately after enjoying a drink, and being within the hotel eliminates the need to move in the below-freezing temperatures.
BAR Ignis offers limited-time original cocktails for special events and seasonal cocktails developed by bartenders through trial and error.
Even for those less familiar with bars, we’ve put creative effort into making it enjoyable for everyone, so anyone can use it with confidence.
So far, we have introduced recommended spots to enjoy winter in Otaru.
If any of these spots caught your interest, we would be delighted.
In addition to the places we highlighted this time, there are plenty of other recommendations in Otaru.
Feel free to reach out to our hotel before your stay, and we would be happy to provide suggestions, so please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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