Otaru is a quaint port town in Hokkaido that was once famous for its herring fishing industry during the Meiji era. The glassmaking industry also flourished during this period, as it produced glass floats for fishing nets and kerosene lamps that supported the fishermen. While the herring industry has slowed down, its glassmaking heritage still serves as a symbol of Otaru.
Kitaichi Glass has been making glassware since 1901, and today, they boasts 18 stores in the city, each with its own range of products. The most popular is the No. 3 Building, which is housed in a former herring warehouse built in 1891 out of stone and wood. The main attraction here is the Kitaichi Hall which is famous for its atmospheric interior that is lit with 167 glass oil lamps, each handcrafted on site. The high ceiling with wooden buttresses are decorated with gorgeous chandeliers, and oil lamps lining the walls; at 8.45am each day, each of the lamps is lit by hand before the cafe is open, and you can witness this calming even.
You can drop by and have a drink any time – in addition to local beers, their Royal Milk Tea is a popular beverage which is served alongside a selection of sweets like cakes and soft-cream parfaits. They are particularly known for their soft serve ice cream, made with fresh Hokkaido milk, and the most popular flavour is the Kitaichi Special Milk Tea.
Kitaichi Hall serves lunch as well, with their lunch menu consisting of herring soba – a nod to its history – as well as a seafood bowl and lunch set containing ingredients typical of Otaru. Seasonal specialties are also available.
Kitaichi Glass No. 3 Building
Address: 7-26 Sakaimachi, Otaru, Hokkaido Prefecture 047-0027