|Travel Reports by mfedley||view profile of mfedley|
|Note: The opinions and views expressed in this user report are those of the individual author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of japan-guide.com.|
June 30, 2017 - Sounkyo Onsen to Biei - Hokkaido
After a good soak (onsen) and good feed (kaiseki) last night, my job for the day was to make my way to Biei. But before I left Sounkyo Onsen, I decided to make my way up the Kurodate Ropeway. My stops for the day included
(1) Kurodate Ropeway
(2) Zerebu Hill
(3) Hokusei Hill
(4) Kanno Farm
(5) Shikisai Hill
(6) Blue Pond
(7) Shirogane Falls
Located right next to the Sounkyo Onsen Information Centre, the Kurodate Ropeway costs a hefty 1950 yen return. The ropeway in summer leaves every 20 minutes and takes around 7-8 minutes to get to the top. Due to the fact that there are many tour groups, you might be on a full or very empty cable car.
Once you reach the top, there is a 10 minute walk through the forest to another smaller cable car. It's also possible to walk up both ways but note that there are A LOT of uneven stairs.
The second cablecar costs 600 yen return and is much slower than the first cable car. It should be noted that there is not much of a view from the top of the first cable car station, but the views are much better at the second.
Once you get to the top, it's another 60-90 minute walk to the top of the mountain, or there is a 20 minute (one way) forest walk. Due to the fact that there is still a significant amount of snow (you need snow gear at the moment still to climb), I decided to complete the forest walk.
One of the positive's about the Kurodate Ropeway is that there are still lots of wildflowers at present. Ironically, the best place to see the wildflowers was at the clearing for the second cable car, which you could not get off and look at.
My first stop in Biei and second stop for the day was Zerebu Hill. It seems as though there are a number of flower fields which are free to enter and make their money through selling products. This location is part of the tour bus stops.
The third stop was Hokusei Hill which has commanding views over the surround countryside...
One of the smaller flowers fields is Kanno Farm. It's main advantage of this location is that it does not seem to be visited by tour buses. As such, it's main clientele seem to be people driving cars. It was a lot quieter as a result.
One thing which I noticed around Biei was the large amount of organic cafes. This place opposite Shikisai Hill was reasonably busy, ironically mostly with foreign english speaking tourists.
My fifth stop for the day is what I call tour bus heaven, Shikisai Hill. This seems to be the main flower field in Biei which I visited for the day. It was definitely the biggest but it's not currently at it's best.
Around half of the fields are currently being replanted. It also seems as though it's still another 2-3 weeks before the majority of the lavender starts to fully bloom.
My sixth stop for the day was also a mecca for tour buses (mainly Thai and Chinese), the Blue Pond. It takes around 5 minutes to walk to the main area from the carpark to the best place to see the pond itself.
Another 3 km up the road from the Blue Pond is Shirogane Falls. It's pretty enough, but is surrounded by rather large onsen hotels.
Even though today was highly enjoyable, it was the utter opposite of the freezing weather I had up on the islands. It seemed to feel as though it was close to 30, which I guess shows how traveling in cold weather changes your ability to put up with heat. For tomorrow, I'll be visiting Furano and then make my was to Sapporo.
Biei Tourist Association: http://www.biei-hokkaido.jp/en/ (English)