Otaru Canal is considered the symbol of Otaru City, a historic mile-long canal that provides both a nostalgic look at the Otaru of yesteryear as well as a unique shopping and dining experience. Once the capital of Hokkaido in Japan's Meiji Period, Otaru was known as the "Sakhalin of Japan" for its busy maritime trade with Russia. The canal was created by a sea reclamation project started in 1914, and the store warehouses that you see were built during this period. They have been beautifully preserved and are an iconic and much photographed landmark in the city. Along the canal, you will find a gaslight-lined promenade brimming with fancy shops, boutiques and fine restaurants.