We got off the ship after it ported and walked along the canal. A lovely little walkway right next to the canal was a leisurely stroll. We had considered taking a canal boat ride but, after seeing the canals, decided there wasn’t much to look at besides the warehouses that lined the canals on the other side, so we skipped it.

Walkway by the canals in Otaru, Japan.
Store by canal in Otaru, Japan.
Statue by the canal in Otaru.

Shopping Street

We then went to what they considered the “shopping street,” but we were still early, and most shops were closed. We did a little window shopping and decided there was nothing we were interested in purchasing, so we moved on.

Small ally with stores.
Store on street in Otaru, Japan.
Store in Otaru Japan.

Botanical Gardens

We noticed a botanical garden when we looked at the town map, but the gentleman at the tourist office said that it was still early and that the cherry blossoms would not be in bloom yet. However, since we had nothing else to do, we looked for a taxi and headed up the mountain to the gardens.

Paved walkway in the botanical gardens.
View of the ocean from the botanical garden.
Foliage in the botanical garden on hill.

The tourist office gentleman was correct; most trees had not bloomed yet, but some had. There were not many people there, just a few locals. The gardens were a bit challenging as they were built into the side of the mountain, and most of the paths were on inclines. Some of the inclines were quite steep. Jim and I both thought we rolled our ankles in our trek, but we were able to walk them out. The bay views were spectacular, and the trees that had blossomed were beautiful. The grounds keepers were cleaning up the leaves and sticks left over from the winter and were preparing the water features for the new season.

Flower in the botanical garden.
Spring flowers in the botanical garden.
Flowers and a view in the botanical garden.

We spent at least an hour exploring the grounds and then headed back to the parking lot, hoping to find a taxi. Unfortunately, none arrived. After waiting about 15 minutes, we tried Uber. However, they could not find a car that would come up the mountain to get us. It was a decent day weather-wise, so we decided to walk back to the ship. Luckily, it was all downhill, and then it went through town, which was pretty flat. It took us just short of an hour, and the walk was not particularly scenic, but it wasn’t bad.

Old house in the botanical gardens.
Jim walking down a path.
Flower on a tree in the garden.

We did stop at the shop on our way back near the boat but didn’t buy anything. They did have a spotless, much-needed restroom, however, with heated seats!

Holland America Cruise Line Westerdam