Furano and Biei
Furano and Biei are located next to each other and are usually visited in one trip. Most people discover the areas on a 4-5 day trip, but if you come in summer and really want to take your time to relax in a beautiful natural area, it is perfectly possible to take one to two week trip to this area as well.
Furano is a town in the center of Hokkaido known for its pleasant and picturesque rural landscapes. The town belongs to Furano-Ashibetsu Nature Park. Because of its very central geographical position, Furano has quite a unique nickname, ‘navel town’. Furano’s natural beauty can be appreciated throughout the seasons of the year, but summertime is undeniably the best time to visit as that’s when the lavender fields are in full bloom. Early to mid-July is the best time to catch the blooming fields. Tomita Farm is a flower paradise where you can see some of the most photogenic fields, and during the high season, you can buy all kinds of lavender-themed souvenirs here.
Summer is also a great time to go there because this is the time when you can ride the very relaxing open-air train to the area. It is doubly enjoyable to see the amazing landscapes from the train and feel the fresh wind in your face at the same time.
During winter, Furano turns into a popular downhill and cross country skiing resort, and the nearby Kita-no-Mine is a popular ski resort. You can also enjoy outdoor activities in Furano all year round such as rafting and hot-air balloon flights.
Hokkaido is one of Japan’s main dairy producers, and Hokkaido cheese is popular in the rest of the country. In Furano, you can visit the Furano Cheese Factory to learn more about the process of making the local camembert cheese, you can taste samples and you can try your own hands at making cheese, butter, ice cream or bread.
The town of Biei is located almost at the center of Hokkaido, in the hilly district at the foot of the Tokachidake Mountain Range, Daisetsuzan National Park. In contrast to the flat plains of rice fields and steep mountain ranges that cover much of Japan, Biei is surrounded by rolling fields, perhaps more reminiscent of western Europe than northern Japan. In recent years the fields around Biei have been used in countless advertisements; keep your eyes on the billboards and big-screen TVs in Tokyo and other large cities, and you may see a little bit of Biei before you visit Hokkaido.
The attractiveness of Biei, which receives millions of people every year, is represented by its spectacular views of flowers. You will be astonished by the magnificent views of colorful flowers such as lavender, sunflowers, poppies, cosmoses, and purple salvias blooming just like beautiful patchworks. You can walk through these flowers at some locations. If you like outdoor activities, you will love all nature has to offer in Biei.
In summer, you can stroll in wild woods, climb trees, walk along the river, go canoeing or camping, or play golf. Going around the area by electric bicycle is also a wonderful way to discover Biei. In winter, the town is transformed by snow, which magnificent appearance will astonish you as you ride on a snow buggy or snowmobile.
One sight not to be missed in Biei is the famous deep blue Shirogane Blue Pond. The pond has this color because of dissolved minerals, and after a good rain shower, it becomes even more cobalt blue. The summer weather in Hokkaido is quite rainy at times, which also means that you should bring a comfortable rain suit if you are planning a trip here. It is the same rain that makes for such incredible natural bounty, plus it keeps the temperatures comfortable here in the summertime.