Sunday, October 9, 2011
10th of August, 2010 - After a very long (and a bit turbulent) day at Asahiyama Zoo in Asahikawa (to the north of Sapporo), we were on our way back home when Otousan decided to take us through Biei. Now Biei is a small town, notably on the way to the much more well known area of Furano. What's the area well known for? Well come Spring/Summer, it's famous for flowers - and in particular lavender fields. Well - it was too late in the year for Lavender (which is harvested and the hills are left decided unadorned), but we were hoping to see a few flowers anyhow.
Actually - the area between Asahikawa and Biei were quite remarkable for their open pastures and distinctly non-Japaneseness... though that's perhaps being a little too stereotypical. The openness of Hokkaido is wonderful. Despite the fact that Okaasan had suffered a strong bout of heat-stroke, she'd recovered well enough to indulge us (and here I mean, me) by stopping occasionally to get out the car to enjoy the scenery.
I hadn't really had much of an expectation of Biei... I knew they grew lots of flowers, but that was about it. Then we came across a small field on the way to Biei and we pulled over to have a better look. The place was called Zerubunooka (The Hill of Zeruba... for some reason).
We jumped out of the car, and I was a little excited at this point... Not sure what the flowers were below, but they seemed to sign-post a flower field. That was good enough for us - though it was clear that T-chan's parents thought we might have better luck down the road. Still, it was late in the afternoon, and as they say - a bird in the hand...
Now this is very much a tourist location - and you can buy all sorts of gifts and go for quad-bike rides. The real reason to come here is the flower fields - and we found that the Lavender fields had definitely gone (beware, I've read a lot of English literature that suggests the Lavender fields are open till the end of August... I'd suggest that July is the latest you'd want to leave it). Still the flowers were nice, and there were a wide assortment there.
The name doesn't mean a whole heap to me - however, they seem to think it's important to announce the proper coordinates: latitude: 43°35'13" and longitude: 142°28'13"... Good ol' Google Maps tells me it's 43.60674° (lat) and 142.47102° (lat). Does any of this matter? Well, most probably not unless you were planning to attack the flower field with Cruise Missile. Not perhaps the most likely thing... all things considered.
The flowers were quite muted, and I have to admit that I was a little disappointed (after hearing of the famous flower fields). Still, you have to make the most of what you've got, so we had a bit of fun walking around enjoying the blooms (and the tonbo, dragonflies).
And it was a good time to just relax in the late summer evening... and I think Okaasan enjoyed the fresh (cooler) air. It was nice to be able to spend some time together just walking around talking and enjoying the scenery.
And the scenery wasn't just "flower fields"... but there was sunflowers (ok, I know, they're flowers too), and some more of the open pastures. As I said, not an image that I would normally associate with Japan. I could have stayed around a lot longer taking photos... and enjoying that fresh country-pure air.
But Otousan was getting a little frustrated with all of the dawdling - he wanted to get a move on (as he something else to show us... ). We all jumped in the car and headed off for our next destination. Biei.
But you'll have to wait for the next post to see what we found... and to give you a hint, we finally found what we'd been looking for.