Summary of our day trip to Furano/Biei on a beautiful July morning:
We started from our accommodation at Asahidake.
(1) Seven Stars Tree セブンスターの木
(2) Furniture Slope (Random wood shop we spotted along the way)
(3) Blue Pond
(4) Kanno Farm
(6) Roller Coaster Road
(7) Farm Tomita
(8) Curry Omurice @ Yuiga-Dokuson 唯我独尊
(9) Furano Glass Forest
(1) SEVEN STARS TREE セブンスターの木
Here’s the oak tree that got featured in a “Seven Stars” tobacco commercial back in 1976 and this tree has been in the spotlight since then. It is also given the name of “Seven Stars Tree” despite having nothing to do with “Seven” or “Stars”. We didn’t plan to visit this particular tree but it was pretty prominent in our drive and there was a carpark and many other tourists stopping by to snap some photos.
(2) FURNITURE SLOPE
Along the way to our next destination, my friend spotted a cute signboard which says “furniture slope”. It was a 10 minute drive through field pastures, stench of animal manure (maybe they were fertilizers) before reaching our destination – a cute little traditional shop selling wood items.
Okay cool they have a website:
(English Description): http://www.biei-hokkaido.jp/en/search/sightseeing/000135.html
(Jap Website): http://www4.plala.or.jp/slope-f
The owner/person at the counter was a middle-aged lady. If I don’t recall wrongly, she was well dressed in a kimono, doing some needlework or something. I wonder what it’s like to live such a zen lifestyle. It’s like how “boring” wouldn’t exist in her life because she finds joy in the simplest things – like sewing while waiting for customers to drop by.
It’s a very small shop and you can finish looking around in less than 5 minutes if you’re not buying anything. I thought very very very hard to find something useful to buy in this shop but I failed terribly. My friend, on the other hand, found two items to buy.
Photo frames costing about 2,000Y if I didn’t recall wrongly.
It’s quite therapeutic being in a shop surrounded by wood. Everything is so delicate and even choosing something to buy is not a simple job – every piece of item is different as the wooden grain patterns will vary.
Wouldn’t recommend a visit unless you have a luxury of time.. I don’t think such shops were meant to attract tourists anyway.
On our way to Blue Pond, my friend spotted a cool signboard which says “Drive in Mustache Boss” which makes us curious about this place. We stopped the car hoping to discover an american diner or something but all we had was a yet-to-be-open restaurant/cafe.
I bought a slice of melon and my friend bought ice cream.
I like this cute display outside their shop.
They have a beautiful garden at the back too.
(3) BLUE POND
If you’re visiting Biei, this destination is likely to be in your list as it had been featured as Apple’s wallpaper.
Anyway, here’s the summer view of the pond.
The Blue Pond wasn’t there from very long. It’s an artificial pond created when a dam was erected to protect the region from mudflows that might occur from the nearby volcano on Mt. Tokachi. In the wake of the eruption on December 1988, the Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau decided to construct a dam upstream on the Bieigawa river to prevent mudflow. Water blocked by the dam now accumulates in a depression in the forest creating the Blue Pond.
The blue color of the pond has not been fully explained but is attributed to the presence of aluminum hydroxide in the water that reflects the shorter wavelength blue light the same way the earth’s atmosphere does. The color of the pond also changes depending on what angle you look at it from and even at different times of the day. Although the water appears blue when viewed from the land, the color is not found in the water itself.
This is probably the damn that they were talking about. Anyway, we were totally clueless about the pond’s artificial background when we visited. We spent more time discussing on why the pond is blue. The water looks quite turquoise/teal to me and apparently the “colour of the pond changes depending on the angle and different times of the day”. It would be pretty cool for someone to do a time lapse of the changes over one full day.
(4) KANNO FARM
This place wasn’t in our itinerary but we stopped by as it was along the way. Still blooming flowers and a gift shop. That’s pretty much about it.
(5) FARMS CHIOYA (BEEF STEW LUNCH)
read separate post: http://www.flyhoneystars.com/2015/08/24/farms-chiyoda-biei-must-try-beef-stew/
(6) PANORAMA ROAD AKA ROLLER COASTER ROAD
Insert this address on google map and you should be able to find it: Nishi 11 Sen Kita, Kamifurano, Sorachi District, Hokkaido Prefecture 071-0511, Japan
This road looked really cool in photos and.. we just had to be there ?
If you see this sign, you’re on the correct road.
My photos are not really fantastic as I wasn’t sitting on the front seat but we did get out of the car to take some photos. As you can see, the road is very empty.. perks of traveling during off peak season!
Up and Down we go.
Beautiful scenery at the top of one of those slopes. Really thankful for the awesome weather and blue sky.
Along the road, you should be able to find this wooden stick which says something like Kamifurano Hakkei (8 scenes)? I guess it’s one of the 8 picturesque scenes in the area.
Other scenic shots along the way..
(7) FARM TOMITA
Shall not talk too much about this place since this is the “must-go” place and probably everyone else has blogged about it already. We visited this place in early July and the lavenders were not in full bloom and it was slightly disappointing as compared to my previous trip.
My friend also compared this place against one flower farm in China whereby people are allowed to walk through the flower fields and take photos inside the flower fields.
Furthermore, this was the most crowded place we have visited since the beginning of our trip. True enough, it was good weather and there were busloads of tourists – practically at every corner.
We weren’t keen in taking much photos and I didn’t feel particularly lavender-y that day. I did not eat the all-time-favourite lavender soft serve ice cream. Instead, I settled for the guaranteed-super-sweet melon. I really love the melon in Hokkaido – sweet and juicy – to the extent that I will lick my fingers for the juice residue =p
We attempted walking up the slope, away from all the crowd but the flowers were quite meh.
Well, we dropped visiting the 2nd Lavender Farm (Lavender East) as it was most likely going to be pretty much the same thing.. yet to bloom Lavenders 🙁
Consolation was.. we found this Tomita Melonhouse (away from the main area – somewhere behind) which serves damn bloody delicious melon soft serve ice cream which came with more melon bites!! I would totally recommend this melon soft serve ice cream over the Lavender one!
(8) CURRY OMURICE @ YUIGA-DOKUSON 唯我独尊
Alright I first heard about this place when I was doing research for filming locations for “Love Rain” – Jang Keun Suk and Yuna’s drama. To be honest, I can hardly recall this shop but I do remember that they ate curry omurice in Hokkaido somewhere in the beginning of the show.
Alright, Furano Tourism has a detailed website about it; Japan is finally learning how to ride on the K-wave: http://www.furanotourism.com/en/spot/spot_S.php?kid1=1&kid2=6&kid3=20&sort=alphabet
Well, this place is proven to serve good food, as seen from the many positive tripadvisor reviews. Makes it a lot easier to convince my friends to visit.
Despite my trying attempts at making reservations, they didn’t reply me and we had to sit outside. As you can see, it is a tiny building tree house made of a lot of logs, dated back to 1974 if I’m not wrong. Despite its popularity, it hasn’t expanded any bit. We had to park in the adjacent carpark which belonged to a bakery (we later found out that that space belonged to the curry house too).
We were “lucky” to be given alfresco seats on the outside. There were (Japanese) people who came after us but they had a seat inside. I guess they probably managed to make a successful reservation via calling =/
The menu was unbelievably old-school. I guess that could be one of the theme and signature of the place. Inside the menu was pretty amusing too. The menu was handwritten photocopied. (At least they did colour copy). My omelette and homemade sausage rice cost 1,450Y.
Anyway, my rating is only 7.5/10 as the food got cold quickly as we were sitting outside and the curry was quite different from the curry that I imagined it to be. Not really sure if this place is worth going.. probably can skip it. Maybe if I’m sitting indoors, it might have been a different experience totally.
I’ve read reviews that it can be really cold and freezing outside in Winter if you have to wait god-knows-how-long to get a seat. Imagine after waiting that long.. they tell you they have a seat for you – outside. If that happens I think you can cringe up and cry =/
(9) FURANO GLASS FOREST
Since we kind of like ditched our flower farm plans due to disappointment at Farm Tomita, we had a bit of free time before heading back to Sapporo for the night.
Remember the random “Furniture Slope” shop which we went earlier in the day? There was a cute little glass chair (the orange thing on the right tray) which caught my attention. I wanted to buy it from the owner (thinking that everything in the shop could be for sale) but she said that it was not for sale and that it was bought at Furano Glass Forest =(
Off we went – to the glass museum – in search for my little glass chair but i couldn’t find it at all!
(I didn’t take photos for this place – everything was too breakable or rather I was too mesmerized with their display items/ All photos were taken from their official website)
It was 6 glass shops combined together in the same building, however purchases has to be completed within the same area (probably different owners as the items are quite different).
Glass Village 1: http://www.furano-glass.jp/store/glassvillage1
Pieces were more precious and slightly more expensive too. My friend bought a limited edition wind chime for $80+ if I’m not wrong.
Glass Village 2: http://www.furano-glass.jp/store/glassvillage2
There’s a lot of miniature pieces available for sale. Probably where the chair was from but I just couldn’t see it despite scouting through tons of display. All items are handmade and you can spend a long time choosing the best among the three displayed. Pieces range from 300Y to 600Y depending on the complexity of design. Really wanted to buy the whole shop down but I resisted by not buying anything (since my chair could not be found). If you have a soft spot for cute items, close your eyes and walk through this shop, otherwise, be prepared for a huge credit card debt.
Glass Village 5: http://www.furano-glass.jp/store/glassvillage5
This is my next favourite shop because they sell very beautiful sake/tea glasses. It’s also the only shop that I bought something from – sakura cup similar to the image below, but in a round and fat teacup size. It cost about 1,800 or 1,900Y. When I saw the beautiful box and packaging I was a damn happy customer, proud of my purchase in Glass Forest Furano. However, it turned out to be (somewhat) a disappointment when I saw the exact same card in a random shop in Otaru without the “Glass Forest Furano” sticker. The exclusiveness of my purchase devalued big time when I saw that. Probably my cup was a mass factory item. I should have settled for a blown glass cup instead =( =( =(
Anyway, there were other shops that I didn’t spend much time in but do note that there are classes and workshops for glassblowing if I’m not wrong.
Check out their websites for more updates: (Japanese) http://www.furano-glass.jp/
With that, we concluded our east/central Hokkaido visit and headed back to Sapporo for the night.
*All text, images, and links are from FlyHoneyStars.com
*All "WingShark's Note" are from HelloWings Journey, aims to provide readers more current information and tips assisting in FlyHoneyStars' travel itinerary.