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October 6, 2013
Day 3 - Biei

Biei (美瑛) is an idyllic country town at the center of Hokkaido, best known for its vast rolling fields and picturesque landscapes. Over the years, images of Biei's beautiful countryside have been used in various marketing campaigns and commercials.

The area is most popular during the summer flowering season, when endless fields of flowers are in bloom all over the region; however, autumn ushers in the important harvest season, when vegetables such as potatoes and onions are collected from the fields.

Today's Report

Flower field at Shikisai park, near Biei

After so much driving yesterday, it was nice to stay in such peaceful and beautiful place like Kizuna Pension, in Kamifurano. When I woke up, mist was still covering the mountains of Daisetsuzan national park and the sun was coming up from behind them.

Misty morning at pension Kizuna

After a home cooked organic breakfast I set off to Bibaushi station, from where I took a little wobbly train to Biei, the starting point of my walk. This time, instead of Siberian winds on the north coast, I would be doing the longest walk of the Tour, on a sunny day, through the gigantic expanses - on a Japanese scale that is - of fields and rolling hills of the Biei countryside, stopping at observation points, a photo museum and a flower park along the way.

The streets of Biei

Vast expanses of farmland in the Biei countryside

I set off from Biei station and walked through town and across the river. even the town was full of autumn colours. The surrounding fields are considered one of the most beautfil areas of Japan. Generally, most visitors come during the summer months to see the huge flower fields, but autumn seemed to me like a perfect season to visit as everything was made of different tones of yellow and red - be it the freshly plowed fields, dry hay, or autumn trees.

Autumn colours in Biei

The two observation points I stopped at (Sanai no Oka and Chiyoda no Oka) are perfect for a little break along this 15km walk, and to really soak up the atmosphere of this peaceful part of the country. I saw a lot of people cycling along the road I took, which seems like a very good way to visit the area as the hills are never too steep.

View from the second view point along the road

Approximately half way through my walk I visited Takushinkan museum of photography. It boasts an impressive collection of pictures of Hokkaido landscapes and it well worth a visit. Next to the museum building are some lavender fields, a perfect spot for a quick lunch bento before setting of again. Seemingly, Biei is where the Japanese come to experience the European (or even better - French) country side, without any jet lag. Unfortunately the lavender wasn't blooming otherwise it could certainly have had a "Provence" feeling.

With a bit of imagination you could be in France!

After another hour of walking I got to Shikisai flower park, where I was able to catch a glimpse of summer in Hokkaido, where all the fields I saw before would be blooming like the ones of the park. There is also a little alpaca farm besides the park for those who want to feel like in South America as well as in a Japanese version of Europe!

The flower park

Tired of flowers? Feed an alpaca!

Today's Program
Today's Walk: Through the fields of Biei

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Today's route leads along the Biei Sanai no Oka Walking Course, through the rural farmland in the Panorama Road area of southern Biei. The tour stops at several points of interest along the way including a flower park, photography museum, and a few popular viewpoints from which to observe the rolling landscape. The route also makes for an attractive cycling course, with rental bicycles available from shops around Biei Station.

Date October 6, 2013
Start Time 9:20
Start Biei Station
Goal Bibaushi Station
Distance 15 kilometers (about 5-6 hours)
Terrain The route runs along paved roads through the rolling hills of Biei. Most of the roads along the way have narrow shoulders and no sidewalks. However, traffic tends to be light. There is no public transportation available along the way. Rental bicycles are available around Biei Station, and typically cost about 200-600 yen per hour.
Weather Average daytime high: 16 degrees Celsius (61 degrees Fahrenheit)
Average nighttime low: 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit)
Weather Forecast for Asahikawa
Access Biei and Bibaushi Stations lie along the JR Furano Line with hourly connections to Asahikawa (35 minutes) and Furano (40 minutes). Asahikawa Airport is located just a 15 minute bus ride outside Biei.
More details on how to get to Biei
Food A few restaurants and convenience stores are available around Biei Station. A restaurant can also be found at the Shikisai Flower Park.
Lodgings Central Biei is the ideal base for the walk, however there are only a small number of hotels and pensions around the town. More lodging choices can be found in nearby Asahikawa and Furano.
Search hotels in Biei through Agoda, or Japanican
Search hotels in Asahikawa through Agoda, or Japanican
Search hotels in Furano through Agoda, or Japanican

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Daily Quiz
The deadline for answering the quiz question for day 3 has passed.

The Seven Star Tree is a lone oak tree standing on Hokusei Hill amid the rolling fields of Biei. The tree was made famous when it appeared in a 1976 ad campaign for what product?

2%   Butter
93%   Cigarettes
0%   Wine
4%   Potatoes
0%   None of the above

The correct answer is: Cigarettes

The ad campaign promoted Seven Star cigarettes.

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