In the heart of wild Hokkaido, the northernmost Japanese island and prefecture, an unexpected landscape is to be discovered. Pastoral fields and tiny farms cultivating cereals and vegetables – almost without rice fields to be seen! Biei reminds us of Europe, in the same way than Naoshima and Seto Inner Sea reminded us of the Mediterranean Sea. And apart of that, the panoramic flower garden of Shikisai-no-Oka and the blue pond of Shirogane are two unique sights, definitely worth the visit.
Shikisai-no-oka is a 15 ha park and flower garden, standing on beautiful hills, which once had the idea to grow several varieties of flowers on several straight lanes. The result is stunning, and attracts huge crowds every summer.
The entrance is free of charge, but visitors are asked to donate 200 yen to cover the garden costs. The park atmosphere is very special, with many golf carts and tractors touring the alleys.
South of Biei is the other special sight of the area, the Shirogane blue pond. This “Aoi Eki” was created by chance in 1988, after Mount Tokachi eruption. A dam was then built to protect the city of Biei of the coming volcanic mudflow and the pond was one of the many that resulted.
How to get there?
Biei is located half-way between Asahikawa (Hokkaido second biggest city) and Furano, about 30-40 minutes from the two cities. Trains are running every hour between these three places. A convenient way to explore Biei hills is by rental cycle (200 yen/hour or 600 yen/hour for electric ones).
Asahikawa airport is the closest gateway to the area, but not always the cheapest (ticket fares beginning around 17000 yen one way from Tokyo Haneda). The train journey from Tokyo is a 10 hours one, with changes at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto, Sapporo and Takikawa (29000 yen in total, fully covered by JR Pass).