Set on the coast, an hour north of Sapporo, the historic town of Otaru has western-inspired architecture and a busy fishing town ambience. A pleasant morning or afternoon can be spent browsing in the shops by the Otaru canal, eating fresh seafood, and seeing some exquisite craftsmanship and architecture at the Old Aoyama villa, former home to an illustrious trading family who made their fortune in the herring fishing industry. With their wealth the family hired Nenosuke Saito, the chief Imperial carpenter, who directed 40 fellow carpenters, plasterers and joiners in the work that took six years to complete, using traditional building techniques and materials. Otaru is also well known for its glass manufacturing industry. At the Kitaichi Glass Factory, the company has a museum displaying a variety of glasswork and a showroom with select pieces for sale.