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Friday, September 14, 2012

Exploring Otaru 小樽市

My Last Fragments of Winter screening at the Sapporo Film Fest on Sept 12th was actually attended by Yi Hua, a friend from primary and secondary school whom I haven't met for ten years. This had never happened before in all my few years as a filmmaker. She just happened to be in Sapporo.

After that, when we were having ramen, she mentioned a place that intrigued me. The port town of Otaru, just northwest of Sapporo, known for its beautiful canal, the sublime seafood and music boxes (there's a famed music box museum).

And then, hours later, when I attended the Hokkaido Selection program screening, and saw a short film set in the town (there was also a scene shot in the museum), I instantly decided to go there.

So, I went yesterday.

The train ride to Otaru was rather brief, perhaps it was around 40 minutes.

Dad on the train to Otaru

Dad on the train to Otaru

In front of the Otaru station.

Dad, in front of Otaru station

I made my way to the Otaru canal that I heard so much about.

Aha. So this is the famous Otaru canal.

Dad at the Otaru canal

A boat passing by the Otaru canal

A building by the canal

Dad and I, at the Otaru canal

I really want to visit this canal again, during winter, and see the place covered in snow.

Otaru canal

Took a break and had some butter ramen. Dad had a big bowl of seafood champon.

Dad claimed that this meal was the defining moment of the trip.

We continued our way through the streets of Otaru.

Otaru streets

At that time, on Facebook, my friend Yihwen was asking me to try out the 5 flavor ice-cream. The shop was along the way, but I went for 6 flavors instead.

(the truth is that, out of the 6 flavors to choose from, I really didn't know which one to drop, so the nice lady just suggested that I go for all, so I did.)

Nevertheless, sightseeing while Facebooking, and having a friend suggest places to you in real-time, is something I never would've imagined just 2 years ago.

After the epic seafood champon and the epic 6-flavor ice-cream, I finally reached the famous music box museum of Otaru.

Dad in front of the Otaru music box museum

It is a very interesting place, beautifully melodious sounds from music boxes of all shapes and sizes filled the air.

The music box museum of Otaru

The music box museum of Otaru 2

The music box museum of Otaru 4

The music box museum of Otaru 3

The music box museum of Otaru 5

The music box museum of Otaru 6

The music box museum of Otaru 7

Once we were done with the museum, we went to the cafe next door to sample its seemingly popular cheesecake, and some iced coffee.

Dad and I, enjoying some coffee and cheesecake after the Otaru trip

Quite a classy place, this Otaru.

UPDATED: It is only a day after visiting the place that I realized that Otaru is where Shunji Iwai's LOVE LETTER (1995) was shot.

Knowing my adoration for the film during my teenage days, mom and dad had mentioned repeatedly that I should try to "visit the LOVE LETTER place" when I come to Hokkaido, and I just brushed them off, saying that the place was probably rather far away. I was wrong, I did end up visiting the place without knowing it. Of course, without the snow, it was unrecognizable.