Biei is located almost exactly in the center of Hokkaido. Owing to its wide expanse of gently sloping hills, it has been given the name “The Hilly Town”, and is filled with well-known sites that will have you reaching for your camera before you know it. Here are 10 scenic spots in Biei that you must see during spring and summer.
Shikisai-no-oka is a tourist site famed for its diverse flower gardens with dozens of types of flowers and plants. These massive gardens are painted with all the colors of the rainbow, beginning in May with the blooming of the tulips and pansies, continuing with the poppies and lupines in June, and then the lavender and marigolds in July to August. You are free to enjoy a stroll in the gardens, however, you may also want to take in the sights with a leisurely ride on a tractor bus. There are other attractions available as well, such as a course on which you can ride a buggy (from 500 JPY) and an alpaca farm (300 JPY for elementary and middle school children and 500 JPY for those of high school age and above). You can get there via car from Biei Station in roughly 12 minutes.
Entrance is free, however, please note that in order to maintain the grounds, it is requested that each visitor makes a donation of 200 JPY.
Tractor Bus Ride: High school students and above: 500 JPY, Elementary and middle school students: 300 JPY
Zerubu-no-Oka (Flower Park) is located on national route 237. With the magnificent natural backdrop of the Tokachi mountain range which has peaks rising to a height of 2,000 meters, these expansive gardens are home to dozens of different types of flora, giving rise to a unique color palette each season. Zerubu-no-Oka is especially renowned for its sunflowers, best viewed in July. If you want to get around the gardens in a more efficient manner, how about taking a kart (500 JPY per person) or a buggy (from 500 JPY)? The nearby “Ken and Merry Tree” is also a popular photo spot. The sight of poplar trees standing tall atop the wide expanse of hills may be enjoyed from the viewing platform inside the grounds. Zerubu-no-Oka is located approximately 5 minutes from JR Biei Station by car.
3. Hokusei-no-Oka Observatory Park
Hokusei-no-Oka Observatory Park is located approximately 7 minutes from JR Biei Station by car and is famed for its incredible views. From the viewing point located in the grounds, you can view the mountain ranges far into the distance and get a 360-degree panoramic view of Biei Hills. Two other attractions not to be missed are the lilies of the valley in mid-May and the lavender in early July. The park also boasts shops, a glass workshop, and a tourist information point where you can pick up a map of the locale.
4. Patchwork Road
Patchwork Road is an expansive area of gently sloping hills located to the northwest of JR Biei Station. Atop the hills are fields of green, yellow, and brown, which are reminiscent of an interwoven patchwork fabric design. There are beautifully scenic spots dotting the landscape, such as the “Mild Seven Hills” with perfectly aligned Japanese larch trees and the “Parent and Child Trees” which are reminiscent of a parent and child nestled together. Zerubu-no-Oka and the Hokusei-no-Oka Observatory Park are also found in this area, and it is normal for visitors to travel to the various sites here by car or bicycle.
5. La Laiterie Ferme BIEI
This farm is located about 20 minutes from the town center by car. At the farm, green hills and blue skies stretch as far as the eye can see, with a number of spots available from which to enjoy the natural views. This vast landscape, typical of Hokkaido, is populated by Jersey cows and Brown Swiss cows, and allows visitors to enjoy a more pastoral atmosphere. Once you have gotten your fill of the natural scenery, you will want to visit the on-site cafe where you will be able to purchase soft serve ice cream made from freshly squeezed milk (360 JPY a cup or 400 JPY per cone).
6. The Shirogane Blue Pond
The Shirogane Blue Pond is so popular that it is synonymous with Biei. This mysterious pond with a stunningly blue surface is filled with withered and decaying trees, creating an otherworldly scene. You can enjoy this photogenic scenery throughout the year, however, the unique blue color stands out best from the middle of May until around the end of June. It is very popular to visit in the early hours of the morning when the water surface is bathing in the beautiful glow of the morning sun. However, during the morning, the prominence of the light can impact on the quality of photographs, so for those concerned with getting the best picture, it may be better to visit in the afternoon. The pond is located about 20 minutes from JR Biei Station by car.
7. The Mizusawa Dam
Mizusawa Dam is located about 20 minutes by car from Biei Station. The Tokachi mountain range and Biei Hills reflect on the clear lake’s surface, creating a beautiful scene, almost like that of a painting. There is no shortage of photographers visiting the site, attempting to capture its majesty in their shots. Particularly at the start of summer, the remaining white of the snow is perfectly reflected against the green of the rest of the mountain. Be sure to get your fill of this amazing natural scenery from all angles with a stroll on the footpath installed around the lake.
8. Biei Shrine
The key spectacles in this shrine are the vermilion gate and the magnificent and charming main shrine building that lies beyond it. Honoring the deity of marriage, this is one of the three great “power spots” of Hokkaido, said to be filled with a mystical energy. One beloved feature of the main shrine building is the cute heart-shaped decorations that adorn it, including the upper part of its front. It is said that the more hearts you can find, the luckier you will be in love. When you have finished your visit, be sure to check out the range of goods available for sale, such as charms emblazoned with the scenery of Biei Hills. The shrine can be found about 5 minutes from JR Biei Station by car.
9. Shirogane Fudo Falls
The Shirogane Fudo Falls are located around 20 minutes from JR Biei Station by car, and rise to a height of 25 meters. The flowing water falling down the tiered waterfall maintains the elegance of white silk. Even in summer this water remains cool, making it popular for those looking for a refreshing break from the heat. Nearby the falls, you will find some Buddhist statues, said to be the source of a mystical energy. You may feel they give rise to a somewhat spiritual atmosphere. Also be sure to visit the famed Shirahige Waterfalls while you're there and enjoy the pristinely clear cobalt blue water as it falls with a force that gives rise to a continuous spray.
10. Mt. Tokachi-dake Observatory
The Mt. Tokachi-dake Observatory lies at an altitude of 930 meters on the side of Mt. Tokachi, the highest mountain in the Tokachi mountain range. It provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding towering peaks, as well as the cities of Asahikawa and Furano at its base. You will feel the full force of nature as you gaze upon the cooled lava remaining from when Mt. Tokachi had previously erupted. In summer, the area is used for mountain climbing and is busy with the buzz of the many visiting climbers. The Mt. Tokachi-dake Observatory lies 35 minutes from JR Biei Station by car.
The town of Biei lies approximately 2 hours and 40 minutes away from New Chitose Airport by car and about 20 minutes if coming from Asahikawa Airport. Located nearby is the city of Furano, famed for its lavender fields. If this article has succeeded in peaking your interest, be sure to pay Biei a visit.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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