Otaru is a city and port in Shiribeshi, Hokkaido, Japan, northwest of Sapporo. The city faces the Ishikari Bay, and has long served as the main port of the bay. With its many historical buildings, Otaru is a popular tourist destination. Because it is a 25-minute drive from Sapporo, it has recently grown as a bedroom community.
The city was an Ainu habitation, and the name "Otaru" is recognised as being of Ainu origin, possibly meaning "River running through the sandy beach". The very small remaining part of the Temiya Cave contains carvings from the Zoku-JÅmon period of Ainu history, around A.D. 400.
In the summer the weather, like all of western HokkaidÅ, is very warm and balmy, with maxima of around 25 °C (77 °F) and high humidity - though nothing like so unpleasant as in southern Japan. In the winter, however, Otaru is exceptionally snowy, receiving as much as 6.6 metres (260 in) of snow from November to March, when it snows almost constantly and sunshine is extremely low. The average maximum snow cover is 1.22 metres (48 in).