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After leaving the Ainu village museum, we boarded the bus for Otaru, a harbor city on the Sea of Japan. It was snowing hard and as we drove along, it seemed to snow harder as we went on and the highway became difficult to see. Our tour guide told us that our destination, Otaru, had received 4 meters (about 13 feet) of snow! I was amazed at the depth of the piles of snow along the highway, created by the ongoing snow plowing. It took us longer to get there than we expected, because at one point, they almost shut down the highway because of the snow and lack of visibility.

We arrived along a seaside street that led to the canal district. Quaint snow covered buildings lined the streets with piles of snow curbside. There were so many tour busses there that there were no parking spaces in the huge bus lot, so we were let off on the street for our 2-hour adventure in town. I had no idea this was such a tourist location! There was so much to see that we barely scratched the surface. There was a Venetian art museum, stores with handmade glassware and lamps, sake and wine shops, bakeries, and souvenir shops housed in stone warehouses built in the Meiji era (1868-1912). There were several ice cream stores, as the island of Hokkaido produces wonderful dairy products due to the large number of dairy farms on the island.

We walked in search of the Otaru Candle Factory and along the way stopped in a convenience store and purchased strap-on spikes that attach to your shoe for better footing. Unfortunately, they only had my size. Canal Plaza was very picturesque and crowded. Along the side of the canal, attached to an old warehouse building I saw an icicle that hung almost to the ground!

Unfortunately we never found the candle shop and on the way back to find our bus, hubby took a spill as we were crossing the street. No injuries, except maybe pride, but we vowed to continue our search to find those strap-on spikes for him!