Monday, July 15, 2019

Hokkaido Travel: Biei: Blue Pond, Shirahige Waterfall, Shikisai no Oka, Shinei-no-oka Observatory Park

Biei is a a small town in Central Hokkaido, and is known for its picturesque landscape. After doing some "homework", I realised that it is not convenient to explore this area by public transport. Many visitors either drive or cycle. But we decided not to drive, and not all of us can cycle, so I was thankful to find out that there are local bus sightseeing tours available.

We stayed at Asahikawa for 3 nights to explore Furano and Biei areas, as we thought that it would be quite time-consuming to depart from Sapporo by bus tours operated by Chuo Bus. Therefore our options of bus sightseeing tour at Biei would be either bus tour organised by Hikari Koutsu departing from Asahikawa, or Biei View Bus departing from Biei.

Finally we decided to join Biei View Bus tour. On the first day when we arrived at Sapporo, we visited JR Travel Service Centre (Twinkle Plaza) at Sapporo Station to book the tour. Alternatively, we could have booked online and paid by credit card.

We took 30 minutes ride on Japan Rail (JR) from Asahikawa to Biei.

The meeting venue is Biei Tourist Association, also known as Shikino Jouhoukan  四季の情報館. It is located next to Biei Station.

We were greeted by a friendly Japanese tour guide, an elderly gentleman, who shared with us about Biei in Japanese and English during the journey.

Our first stop was Blue Pond 青い池. The spectacular blue hues of water against the greenery make it look like a lovely painting! When there is no wind, the pond looks that a huge mirror, reflecting the plants and sky. In fact, Blue Pond has different appearance during different seasons! If you are visiting Blue Pond in winter, you will be stunned by the winter illumination.

Do you know that Blue Pond was created accidentally? It was created as a result of construction of an eorsion control system, which was designed to prevent mud flow from volcanic activity from nearby Mount Tokachi. The blue colour is a result of a mix of natural minerals such as colloidal aluminium hydroxide.

But, the area is actually quite small, it is L-shaped and fences are around for safety reason. It was super packed with visitors when we were there! And if you have a choice, please do not visit the washroom there, it is the dirtiest washroom that I have ever seen in Japan!

Just a few minutes on the bus then we arrived at Shirahege Waterfall 白ひげの滝, which literally means white beard. True enough, the waterfall really looks like white beard! It is a rare type of waterfall as underground water drops from the cracks of the rocks. We viewed the waterfall from the bridge above.

The scenery on the other side of the bridge is lovely too.

We then embarked our journey to Shikisai no Oka 四季彩の丘, panoramic flower gardens over the hills. Upon entering, we were welcomed by two characters made of grass rolls.

As we visited Farm Tomita on the day before (read our experience here), the area with flower bloom at Shikisai no Oka seemed to be smaller. Yet it was interesting that the photos turned out to be different at various locations around that same patch!

The supposed-to-be-the-most-spectacular rainbow flower field on the hill was still bare in mid-June!

Tokachi mountain range was just right in front of our eyes.

There was a lavender field. However, they were still at budding stage.

Other than walking, you can choose to take the tractor bus or drive the buggy at a fee. There is also a small alpaca farm that requires admission fee. By the way, the lavender on this small patch looked so beautiful!

After that, we continued our journey. The bus slowed down when it drove past Shinei-no-oka Observatory Park 新栄の丘展望台公園.

And then we headed back to Shikino Jouhoukan, and this marked the end of our first Biei View Bus tour. We had a quick lunch near Biei Station as we had to join the second tour to Patchwork Road after that!

Our Hokkaido Summer Itinerary
Day 1: New Chitose Airport, Sapporo Clock Tower, Odori Park, Hokkaido Government Office
Day 2: Takino Suzuran Hillside National Government Park, Susukino
Day 3: Hokkaido Shrine, Otaru
Day 4: Asahiyama Zoo
Day 5: Furano - Farm Tomita, Tomita Melon House
Day 6: Biei - Blue Pond, Shirahige Waterfall, Shikisai no Oka , Shinei-no-oka Observatory Park, Ken and Mary Tree, Seven Stars Tree, Parent and Child Trees, Hokusei-no-oka Observatory Park  
Day 7: similar to Day 2 haha!

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