Glassware is another trademark of Otaru. Many various glass workshops are located throughout the city. The Kitaichi Glassworks Company is a traditional maker of glassware and a local leader in the industry. It was established as the Asahara Glassworks in 1901. At first, it mainly manufactured oil lamps, a necessity among the settlers of Hokkaido, then moved into making the glass buoys used in fishing during the great fishing period. The company name was changed to Kitaichi Garasu (glassworks) in 1971, and began making glass assessories and crafts.
At the Kitaichi Glass Emporium No. 3 in Sakai machi (7-26, take the Otarus Sasaku Bus), glass crafts and 167 lamps from around the world create a fantasy atmosphere as they flicker in the Kitaichi Hall. Entry is free. It is open daily between 9:00 am-6:00 pm (until 7:00pm on Fri and Sat during summer). Entry is free (Tel: 0134-33-1993).
The Glass Studio in Otaru is a glass-blowing studio established by glass craftsmen and women and ambitious young apprentices. In addition to displaying and selling glassware, the studio lets visitor observe manufacturing processes, and provides the chance to experience hands-on glass blowing and sandblasting. It is located at Mogami 2-16-16 (Tel. 0134-33-9390) and open between 10:00am-7:00pm (until 6:20pm in winter). There is no hands-on glass blowing on Tues. 1,800 yen per person. To get there, Take Chuo “#9 Mt. Tengu Ropeway” Bus from Otaru JR Station.
The Otaru Unga Kogei-kan (Otaru Canal Craft Hall), located along the canal and marked by a fancy sign made of stained glass. The distinguished architecture of the shop, with its 2 domes that look out over Otaru Canal and Ishikari Bay, blends well with the antique-style town. There visitors can watch as flaming glass transform into different shapes and sizes of beautiful art. Here also, they can take a try at sandblasting which is a step in the process of decorating translucent glass. The completed pieces are displayed for sale on several floors of the building. Location: Ironai 2-1-19. Tel.0134-29-1111. Open – 9:30am-6:00pm (9:00am-7:00pm in summer), Studio Work shop until 5:00pm. Entrance is free and is only a 8 minute walk from Otaru Station.