Our flower hunting adventure started out with us heading to Nakafurano Station towards Farm Tomita. Right within the station is a tourist information centre, of which a lone Japanese lady was swarmed with questions from every one trying to get her attention. Despite the overwhelming requests, she was very helpful and patient in explaining how to get to Farm Tomita, even bringing me to the window to look out for natural landmarks and passing me discount vouchers for F&B establishments – Japanese hospitality and customer service at its best.
(Note: While Lavender-Batake Station is a much closer station to Farm Tomita, it is only accessible via the Lavender Express, a sightseeing train that only runs 4 times a day. Hence, the next nearest train station to Farm Tomita is Nakafurano, where we had to walk about 1.7km to the farm.)
Our first stop was Nakafurano Lavender Park, the town’s own lavender field. A huge plot of land adorned with colourful flowers, you could sense the joy of everyone who passed by there. Naturally, we were also caught up in the excitement, as we snapped quite a few shots before remembering that Farm Tomita might have more to offer.
Walking from one place to another in Hokkaido Summer is really no mean feat as the sun was scorching. Armed with 2 bottles of drinks, it served as a good thirst relief when we finally found ourselves at Farm Tomita. Having been to Farm Tomita before with a group tour, it was here that I realized where we were at currently is a part that I’ve not been to before. Farm Tomita is actually much bigger than what I thought, and we had somehow made our way to Irodori Field, which in my opinion is really beautiful. From Irodori Field, we snapped our way to the main farm, before settling for some lavender ice cream and some shopping.
Having wanted to visit Hokkaido for its lavender fields, I had always wanted to try visiting Tomita’s Lavender East Fields. Speaking to a local for directions, he told us that it is 5km from where we were, and was extremely shocked when we said we would be walking, and wished us all the best.
But as we walked to the nearby Lavender-Batake Station, I changed my mind as I did not want my Boy to suffer in the heat, and decided instead to visit other flower fields. Plus we were just in time for the Lavender Express, and it would be good to check out how it’s like.
But it seemed like everyone was there for the same thing, as a few tour groups were also there to board the train. Before we knew it, there was a mad rush for seats as we decided to just stand our way to Bibaushi Station. While some part of the train had specially decorated carriages and wide windows for sightseeing, the lack of air-conditioning meant that ventilation can be an issue especially on a hot summer day like we experienced.
Our next stop was Shikisai no Oka, another popular tourist destination located in the middle of Biei. From the train station, it was a 4km walk with no shade. Thinking back, I’m really surprised at how we managed to survive the long walk in and out of the place, but we did! Braving the sun, we arrived at our destination after 30 minutes, during which I was famished and decided to have lunch there.
Although entrance to the park is free, they do seek for a donation of ¥200 for the upkeep of the facility, while their sunflower field (hidden the back) also has an entrance fee of ¥300. Once in the park, two welcoming hay sculptures flank the pathway to the sea of rainbow flowers, as visitors may choose to tour the park on a tractor or buggy at a fee, or visit the alpaca farm.
Our last stop for the day was to Kamifurano Flowerland. Arriving at the station, we decided to grab a cab instead of walking to our destination. And it was a good thing that we did because it was an extremely long way in, plus our cab driver gave us the option of a return cab ride back to the train station. As the drivers may not be able to speak English, they had an innovative method of using a pre-printed paper filled with phrases and timings for communicating on the time you would like them to pick you up.
Kamifurano Flowerland seem similar to Shikisai no Oka, but is smaller in size. What intrigued me the most was the sea of lilies (given that it is one of my two favourite flowers).
Some tips for summer flower hunting:
- Stay well hydrated as the weather was really warm
- Do apply enough sunscreen as we were sunburnt on our arms and legs/feet
- Sunglasses and hats are a must as it was really glaring
- Be ready for crazy crowds especially in Farm Tomita and Shikisai no Oka
- Be prepared to walk at least 20km if taking the train.
Unless you can drive, if you are willing get a personal driver for a day or two in Furano. Cycling is possible but the area is really hilly; be prepared to dismount and push your bike instead