Otaru Museum, Hokkaido, Japan

The Otaru City Museum is a museum that exhibits the history, nature, railway and other transportation, science, etc. of Hokkaido at 1-chome Temiya, Otaru City, Hokkaido. The Otaru City General Museum was opened in July 2007 by integrating the functions of the Otaru City Museum and the Otaru City Youth Science and Technology Museum into the former Otaru Traffic Memorial Museum.

We are engaged in various activities based on the theme of Otaru’s history and nature, Hokkaido’s transportation history, and science and technology. There are two facilities: the main building (former Otaru Traffic Memorial Museum, 1-chome Temiya, Otaru-shi) and the canal building (former Otaru City Museum, 2-chome, Inai, Otaru-shi). Each is about 20 minutes away on foot, but there are common admission tickets that can be used for two days, so please visit both.

It was established on July 14, 2007 by integrating the functions of Otaru City Museum and Otaru City Youth Science and Technology Museum and utilizing the facilities of the third sector operated Otaru Kotsu Memorial Museum at Temiya Station. Administrative functions were integrated into the facilities of the Otaru Kotsu Memorial Museum to form the main building. The old Otaru City Museum has been renamed the Canal Museum.

Main building
The Otaru City General Museum was established in 1956 by using the former NYK Otaru Branch in Ironai. The museum was originally established as the Otaru City Museum, a museum for the humanities and nature, including art, and was relocated to the old Otaru Warehouse in 1985.

Then, in December 1962, in commemoration of the 85th anniversary of the opening of Japan’s railways, the Hokkaido Railway Memorial, which was established by the then Sapporo Railway Management Bureau, was operated and commissioned. When the museum first opened, it used the old engine warehouse as its main building. In October 1964, the Daisho Locomotive was also brought in from the Hokkaido University Museum.

After that, the Railway Memorial Hall was temporarily closed from November 1992, and was renovated mainly in Otaru City.In 1996, the exhibition range was expanded to marine and land transportation, and reopened as a comprehensive transportation museum. Renamed the memorial. It was operated by Otaru Kotsu Memorial Hall, a third sector company, but closed in March 2006 due to a decrease in users.

The Otaru City Museum was relocated to the site of the former Otaru Transportation Memorial Hall on July 14, 2007, after the integration with the Otaru City Youth Science and Technology Museum, and opened as the Otaru City General Museum. In September of the same year, it became the starting point of the Tour de Hokkaido 2007, and since that year the Otaru Classic Car Expo in Otaru City Museum has been held.

The facilities are set up using the 5.8ha of the site of the former Temiya Line / Temiya Station, the birthplace of Hokkaido’s railroad, and include the Railway / Science / History Museum, the Steam Locomotive Memorial Museum, and the Railway Vehicle Storage Museum. In addition to the two indoor facilities, there is an outdoor exhibition hall where valuable railway vehicles and cars are preserved and displayed. Eight out of the twelve quasi-railway monuments that exist on the road, including the Railway Car Preservation Hall, which is the oldest surviving locomotive in Japan, are owned by the museum.

Exhibition hall

First floor

Railway, Science and History Museum
The museum hall presents an impressive collection of the modern Hokkaido locomotive “Shizuka-go”, the first road in Hokkaido in 1880 and was built in 1884. The following year, trains will be deployed at Temiya Station. You can visit it on a locomotive.

The main indoor exhibition facility is the Railway, Science and History Museum near the main entrance. The entrance of the building looks like an old ticket gate, and the first thing that appears as Dawn is the SL Shizuka-go. The Shizuka-go was manufactured in the United States in 1884, and the following year it was used on the Horonouchi Railway. It is the representative SL of Japan that supported the modernization of Hokkaido. The first passenger car connected to the back, “I-1”, has a luxurious interior. A nice place to see the inside.

Train showroom
We exhibited trains, related products, timetables, vehicle models, and related materials, imitating the internal structure of Temiya Station in the Meiji era. Among them, there were exhibits related to the construction of the Horonouchi Railway, which connects Otaru City and inland coal mines in the early Meiji era.

Indoor exhibitions are overwhelmed by a wide range of content, such as SL license plates, old timetables, conductor uniforms, and vehicle models.

Second floor

In science showroom
Visitors will be delighted and learn about exhibits related to acoustics, optics, machinery and electricity, and will help you understand the principles and practical techniques of scientific knowledge related to railways.

Special showroom
This is a special exhibition of history, nature and science-related content. Every year, we hold three to four special exhibitions focusing on preservation and promotion of local culture, focusing on Otaru and its surrounding collections and materials.


Former Temiya Engine House (Railway Vehicle Preservation Hall): Railway Monument, National Important Cultural Property
Temiyaguchi Turntable: Former Otaru Chikko Engine Ward Turntable
Hokkaido Railway Opening Origin: Associate Railway Monument

Outdoor vehicle display
Active railcars in Hokkaido are parked in a large train warehouse at an outdoor exhibition hall. In addition to transportation trains, there are many rare railcars, such as snowplows, tunnel cars, and steam cars.

Dynamic exhibition
Iron Horse: A 2-6-0 tender steam locomotive made by Porter as well as Yoshitsune, Benkei and Shizuka. Purchased from a theme park in the United States in 1993. Made in 1909, the 100th birthday was held in August 2009. In October 2017, water leakage into the firebox was confirmed due to expansion of the melting plug, and operation was stopped [5]. Then, in April 2018, it was transported to the Sappa Boiler in Osaka Prefecture and repaired [6], and returned to the museum on July 15 and resumed normal operation from the 23rd.

The most popular outdoor exhibition is the actually moving SL “Iron Horse”. This was manufactured in 1909 by the same porter company as the Shizuka, and used to carry sugarcane and fruits in Guatemala, Central America.

The Iron Horse, which comes out of the locomotive yard, runs between “Chuo Station” and “Temiya Station” in the main building outdoor field. And the big attention is the direction change at the turntable. It turns 180 degrees around the track at the turning point. This equipment is operated by a piston using compressed air called “Otomo-type traction machine” and is currently only found in the main building of Otaru City Museum.

Steam locomotive archives
A collection of machine tools used in Otaru. Spare parts for steam locomotives are on display. One of the highlights is the steam locomotive, created on a 1/5 scale.