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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Little Known Japan: Furano-Biei Flower Farms

Two weekends ago I went on a trip with a few of my friends to a famous farming town two and a half hours north of Sapporo. It’s called Furano and its specialty is growing flowers. I had been there a couple years back, when I stilled lived in Atsuma and a friend had a spare seat in her rental car, but the weather was rainy and we had missed the lavender blooming, so I had always wanted to go back there.

A couple weeks ago I decided to try. I sent a message out to a handful of friends and organized a rental car and Saturday we were off. It was a great trip that went off without a hitch and the weather was perfect. I realized how much I enjoy roadtrips and it is now my goal to do more of them!

The day started at 9am and we got our rental car. I was the navigator and Allie, who I went to Vietnam and Cambodia with, drove us. I was planning on driving but I didn’t realize that my Japanese license expired back in March rather than the three year mark of me getting it. Nice job assuming, Kaley.

The drive itself was beautiful. We took the backroads to avoid the exorbitant prices of Japanese toll roads (only would have saved us 20 minutes) and the winding mountain roads and scenic farm towns we passed reminded me just why I love Japan and why I have stayed here for so long. It’s easy to forget when you spend your days in a concrete jungle.

The weather was so nice that I rode with the windows down. Until a carpenter bee decided to fly into my face and end up on Allie’s leg. Props to her for not freaking out and bigger props to Sevy for grabbing the thing with a tissue while I was frozen in fear and confusion.

We started about thirty minutes north of Furano in Biei, where we had lunch at a beautiful little cottage at a potato farm famous for their beef stew called Blanc Rouge then headed back south to Shikisai No Oka, a flower farm located on some rolling hills.

When I came two years back the blooming season for the flowers was in full swing, it’s a shame that the lavender and most of the other flowers aren’t in sync, but we can’t really expect to control nature now, can we? Regardless, it was still a beautiful place and there was something more exciting than flowers.


I love alpacas. I think they are just the funniest and cutest animals. Their long awkward necks, fluffy bodies, and hilarious noises just get to me. And I have a collection of random alpaca cuteness all over my apartment and desk.

Though, the saliva warnings scared me a bit.

They’re animals and you can’t expect everyone to be perfect. Even an alpaca.

After we finished up in Biei we headed down to Furano itself and the main stop, Farm Tomita. This place is very busy as there’s only really two weeks in a year where the lavender blooms, so the Chinese tour buses were out in full force. I can confirm that Chinese tourists are the worst tourists. They’re just loud and rude and travel is large herds.

I got some ice cream, cantaloupe and lavender swirled together into perfection, and as I was waiting in line an old Chinese lady just shoved me out of the way to look into the drink cooler before walking off. There was a line of ten people behind me as well. Rude.

Farm Tomita was beautiful, the lavender were perfect and the weather even moreso. Though it was hot for the first time since, well, last year. I realized that Sapporo has removed any ability I have for heat adaptation and my move back to Florida will be a warm one. Though we have air conditioning in Florida and springs and beaches so I guess the heat really won’t matter too much.

After we got done looking at the flowers we headed over to the melon house where I bought the tiniest melon smoothie for far too much money. Melon in Japan is beyond expensive. A cantaloupe will cost you $15 and a honeydew $8. The only time I eat it is if I get it for school lunch, which happens a few times a month in season and I actually got some good cantaloupe this Monday.

By 5 we had to head back to Sapporo, to drop off our rental car by 8. The drive back was much the same as the drive there, though the windows stayed up and the setting sun was in our eyes. We got the car back with a full tank of gas ten minutes before it was due, so I consider it a success.

One of the main reasons I love living in Hokkaido also makes it difficult to enjoy living here. The island is largely farm land and nature, and the train lines go to only a few major cities. If you want to go anywhere it will take you ages (Furano is only 120km away from Sapporo), but the drive will be beautiful and a large part of your journey. We only spent four hours total in Biei and Furano and six in the car, and it was nice to just enjoy the beautiful mountainous country of Japan for a day, and really appreciate the country I have called home for the last four years.

I highly suggest renting a car and spending a few days driving around Japan, rather than sticking to the main cities. Japan actually goes from urban to rural really quickly, and you can experience the more rustic Japan easily in a day trip outside of Tokyo or Kyoto or Osaka. To me, that’s the real Japan. That special part of Japan that lets you really understand the country.

All photos are taken by me. Please don't use without permission. I hold all copyrights.

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