Lavender fields of hokkaido
Plan of the day: Furano-Biei-hiking on Asahi mountain
Blue skies greeted us on our first morning in Hokkaido. We spent the night in a nice hotel in Furano and headed towards Farm Tomita to see the famous Lavender fields of Hokkaido. The lavender usually starts blooming in late June and reaches its peak from around mid July so we knew that this is high season and had high expectations.
Furano area is best-known place to see lavender flowers fields which grow in several farms. It is easy to find the farms if you drive with your car. Otherwise, you can take the JR Furano Line train till the station of Lavender-Farm and it is only a 10 minutes walk from Farm Tomita. What we saw was beautiful but different than what I had in mind. We read a lot about the farm and it’s vast fields so our expectations were high. It seems that high hopes leads sometime to some disappointment. I was waiting to see Lavender fields all around me and till the horizon but as we parked our car we simply saw a hill covered with flowers. From the parking the hill looks blooming but rather small in size. It was only when we followed the path and mounted the hill that we could see the beauty of the fields that slop downward to the valley. The farm has few fields -some dense with Lavenders and other with plenty of other flowers with purple, red and white colors. Standing uphill between the fields we felt strong emotional experience of happiness. All around us there were flowers and huge bees buzzing and rolling inside the flowers. We took photos and after half an hour went for a Lavender ice-cream in the souvenir shop.
Since we didn’t want to miss anything we drove five minutes to Lavender East farm. It is the new version of farm Tomita but being located in the plain we found it less impressive and if you don’t have the urge of riding in a small tourists’ tractor in the field you can skip this farm.
Our next stop was Hokusei-No-Oka Observatory. It is a small pyramid building located on a hill. From the observation desk you can have a nice view of the Daisetsuzan mountains. The slopes of the hill have a small Lavender field and we saw a newly married couple posing for pictures in this romantic location. After a 15 minute break we headed towards Daisetsuzan Park.
It was high noon and we followed our plan and drove to Biei area to see the Blue pond. This is a large man- made pond with with natural minerals that gives the water a deep blue color. There are trees around the pond and some dead trees inside the water. We walked on the short trail, took some pictures and returned to the car with the feeling that it is nice but not a must.
Two hours latter we made our way towards Daisetsuzan park. [In case you use public transport from Asahikawa you can catch the bus to Asahi-dake Onsen Village. The bus stop is in front of Asahikawa Station on the main street.] As fields turned into hills and mountains we arrived Asahidake Onsen. Daisetsuzan is the largest park of Hokkaido with an unspoiled nature of 230,000 hectares. There are two active volcanoes in the park -Asahi-dake in the north side and Tokachi-dake in the southern side. The net of trails linking these two mountains is known as the “Grand Traverse.”
Sadly we acknowledged the fact that the grand traverse is to ambitious for our powers and scale of time (It takes 6-7 days to make the traverse) . A more realistic plan was to stayed for the night at Hotel Bear Monte and than make a day trip. While the hotel is nothing to write home about it does has a great location- right near the rope-way that leads to Asahi mountain, Hokkaido highest mountain.
At four o’clock it was getting cold and rainy but we thought that it would be nice to walk the one hour trail near Sugatami pond and then descend following the trail back to the hotel . Daisetsuzan has a reputation for having wild bears. As if to justify the reputation, while we bought the tickets we were warned that a mother bear and cub are wandering near the trail and that it would be wise to take the Gondola . The way up with the Gondola was beautiful- giving an opportunity to see the view of the area . On the mountain, an hour on the loop trail gave us a taste of the beauty of the mountain- wild flowers in hues of yellow and purple, clear ponds and the remains of snow, smelly Geysers….As the clouds covered the mountain we followed the advice and descended with the rope-way.
Advice: check the weather before you take the Gondola