We have invited people who have immigrated from abroad and are now living in the Shiribeshi region of central Hokkaido to contribute columns from a variety of perspectives. The columns appear in Japanese in the morning edition of the Hokkaido Shimbun newspaper every other Monday. https://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/series/s_cool_otaru
In this section, the columns are posted in the author's original text.
【Column】Otaru’s Post-COVID Gastronomy Tourism Opportunities
We are still in the middle of the Pandemic, with some uncertainty on the future and lots of hope. As I have always loved travelling, due to COVID restrictions this is the longest I have been in the same place for such an extended period since I was 16. This time has given me the opportunity to further explore Otaru and its surroundings.
Despite COVID, it is heart warming to see how some businesses are showing resilience and adapt to a world that is now very different.
Since I wrote my first column on the potential of Otaru for this space in March, I have enjoyed speaking to locals and people from outside Otaru about the ideas I expressed back then. Conversations often focus on Otaru’s future and the lack of a diverse and vibrant food scene, especially fine dining experiences. The city certainly boasts an enviable choice of sushi restaurants. However, there is more potential to complement this offer with a diverse gastronomic experience that showcases top local produce from the Shiribeshi area. The ingredients are there to turn Otaru into a very attractive gourmet destination in Hokkaido.
Otaru and its economy need visitors to come back. While large numbers of domestic and foreign tourists are still unable to return, some new plans could be implemented in the medium and long term to attract a sustainable base of travellers appealed by a unique culinary offer.
One of the areas I would like to see full of life and at the centre of this experience is Temiya Line. Having my wine shop just few steps away, I often walk there. I see the beautiful colors of summer, but also a lot of unused open space and some empty derelict buildings. Its appearance would need significant improvement, but the area has the potential to become one that offer locals and visitors a great choice of bars, cafè and restaurants surrounded by green open spaces in one of Otaru’s heritage sites.
It is fairly hard to cover this matter in further detail in this column, but I would be happy to discuss with anyone interested on this topic.