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Vol. 4 The Soft Ripples of Canal Waters

Contributing to the effort to breathe new life into the Otaru canal, a project is underway to bring a new kind of mobility to its waters—one that is slow and silent.

The town of Otaru once served as a gateway to Hokkaido during its era of development, and the town prospered thanks to its canal and the small boats that plied it. A man born and raised there recalls how he felt a profound sense of duty to help revive this asset of his hometown, which was in danger of vanishing. It led him to start a canal cruise service and he now believes that, “With the canal alive again, it grows cleaner.”

Upon returning to Otaru after 20 years, he saw the town’s once-proud canal had lost its role and become filthy from neglect. “The canal is an asset for Otaru and I felt I had to do something,” he explains. In time, the sound of rippling waves returned to the canal’s waters, as boats moving only slightly faster than walking pace began to use the waterway again. Powering one of the boats down the canal on these short but scenic cruises is Yamaha Motor’s next-generation electric boat control system, HARMO.

“I feel my job is to open new avenues like these on the water.” From the tourists coming to visit Otaru to the residents that welcomed them, as more people began to enjoy the canal again, a movement grew to clean it and its surroundings. “It’s not just about restraint,” he says. “It’s a cycle of one good act leading to another.”

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