Thursday, October 13, 2011

Beautiful Biei - Breath-taking Brilliance

10th of August, 2010 - After a stop at the Hill of Zerubu, we came to the place that T-chan's parents had been looking for. A wonderful part of paradise known as Shikisainooka - the Colours of Four Seasons Hill. This is about 6-7 km south (as the crow flies) of the actual town of Biei and is definitely one of the must see places in the area. The map below shows you how to get there from Biei itself (you may need to zoom in). The farm is free - however they do request a 200 yen donation for the up-keep. The following link also shows the calender of flower blooms throughout the year across Biei.

View Hokkaido Map in a larger map

Shikisainooka is a cross between a working flower farm and a tourist attraction, and shows just how well such multi-purpose industry can work. The farm sits on about 7 hectares , and is open all throughout the year. It also happens to be home to the obligatory hay bale giants. At night they come alive and devour any stray tourist that mistakenly finds their way onto the farm... it's tragic, but what a great place to be eaten by a straw monster.

The garden - earlier in the year - has a lot of lavender, but like most such places the season for lavender had already passed us by.  Still, whilst there wasn't much in the way of lavender available, the farm more than made up for it in terms of sheer colour. And I won't even pretend to know what all the flowers are.... but instead, I will let the photos do the talking. I most probably should try culling down the number of similar photos - but for the life of me I just don't know which I can take off.

The one thing I will say however is - this was one of those moments as you come over the rise that you just can't believe how beautiful the flowers are....

There's just so much variety... even in the uniformity!

This is not the only such farm in the area - in fact Biei and Furano are famous throughout Japan for such beautiful vistas.

And another feature of the area - other than the hills of flowers - are the trees (though I didn't shoot any good examples). They have a fetish here for the unusual single tree (or clump of trees) set against the hillside.  An example is the famous Ken and Mary Tree.

And once again, the landscape of Hokkaido is a fantastic supporting star in this production... looking more like the sweeping tree-covered European plains than a Japanese countryside. Unfortunately we arrived quite late in the afternoon... hence the long shadows of our family in the foreground. On the downside we only had about 30 mins to look around before it was due to close - but on the upside, the lower sun had started to cast a wonderful light over the fields. Another highlight that really didn't come out in the photos was the giant of a mountain, Daisetsuzan that loomed amazingly over the landscape... unfortunately there was too much cloud around to get a good pic of it - but it made me want to pencil in a driving trip through Daisetsuzan National Park on one of our up-coming trips back to Japan.

Here's one last one for luck. Beautiful... and that has nothing to do with the photos either.

Of course - L-kun was having fun, but there's only so many flowers to examine. A tractor however is a source of endless joy and curious fun. Of course, I'm not entire sure that this was meant to be part of a play gym (and thinking back on it, we were perhaps lucky the he didn't find the key and start it up and go for a late afternoon drive through the flowers - one way to get on the news).

And I mentioned that the farm also has a strong lavender connection. Well, that extends to the favourite tourist item in Japan - the seasonally flavoured ice-cream. In this case, lavender soft-serve. Whilst the flavour is not designed to knock your socks off, it was most definitely lavender.

And just to show that I don't let my wife do all the stunt work, here I am getting stuck into my own.... but hold on... what's that moving in the background. Oh no! The boy hay monster has come to have it's own just-woke-up-and-have-a-horrible-gnawing-hunger-pain satisfying snack. 
Will I escape?... you'll just have to stay tuned for the next post.

Meanwhile... at least someone with a camera drove back to Sapporo that night (it's about 2+ hours). The driver was Otousan, who had done a brilliant job throughout the day - despite repeated requests to share the driving. It was definitely a long, long day... and yet it was beautiful to watch the passing scenery as the sun set - the hot humid summer mist rising from the fields.

Then again... maybe I never left that field of flowers...


  1. It does look a lot like somewhere in Europe rather than Japan, and I love the rows of those colourful flowers, which make for some amazing pictures.

  2. In many ways the Hokkaido countryside is quite European/Western in style. That and the farming that goes on here is not that dissimilar as well. It's interesting that the majority of these flower fields can all be found around Furano and Biei in Hokkaido. Don't ask me why.

  3. Wow, those colors!!!

    And it's true that while I've never been to Hokkaido the pictures I've seen of the area have some sort of European look at times (or Canadian, when it's winter and everything is covered by 50 cm of snow if not more) :-)