Before I begin PART 1 of my (as always) looooong-winded story of our two weeks adventure in Hokkaido last month, let’s set the background for the trip.
This trip involved 12 people. Me, my husband, 2 kids and my in-laws who drove one car; Another family of 2 adults + 2 kids and ANOTHER family of our friend and his mum who shared a second car. So we had like 4 preschool kids, 5 adults (inclusive of a sick tour guide a.k.a. me) and 3
elderly pioneer generation. Can you picture the chaos already?? Oh my… Just recalling it gives me the chills.
Okay, it wasn’t THAT bad. I think. Although some members of my tour party may beg to differ. Let me tell you our story from the beginning and you tell me at the end if it was bad or not.
Day 1: CTS – Furano
We arrived at CTS with the other family of 2 adults + 2 kids. If you read my post on Hokkaido trip budgeting, I explained that we rented our cars from different car companies. So we went to pick up our car from World Net Rental Car and drove over to Car Rental Hokkaido’s office to look for our friend after that.
Can I just say for the record that I was super amused by that kawaii “Foreigner driving” magnet that they stuck onto our cars this time round? Seems to be a new initiative because I have never gotten that before in my previous 4 trips. If you see another car with that magnet, wave and say hello to your fellow ‘alien’ traveller! LOL…
Car Rental Hokkaido’s office was located at Hokkaido Marugoto Ichiba (北海道まるごと市場). Our friend was still settling his car rental when we reached (in case you are wondering why they were so much slower than us, please don’t forget we’re veterans. Bwahaha…), so we wondered around Hokkaido Marugoto Ichiba. It was like a typical roadside station where you can shop for souvenirs and seafood.
After our friend settled into their car, we drove together to Furano for lunch. Okay, I have a confession regarding poor planning. I had planned to have lunch at Yuigadokuson (唯我独尊) and dinner at Kumagera (くまげら) that day. But I didn’t check carefully and Yuigadokuson was closed on Mondays! So we ended up at Kumagera for lunch. Both restaurants were located in Furano city centre and pretty close to each other. So close that the husband decided to walk over to Kumagera instead of hopping back on the car. Because after being cramped for two hours in a 7-seater with 6 people and 2 suitcases immediately after hopping off the plane, walking was so much fun.
After lunch, we visited Furano Winery. Because we could all do with a celebratory drink after surviving a red-eye flight immediately followed by 2 hours drive with the kids.
The last time we were here, it was raining. This time round, we got lucky with the weather and got an amazing view from the winery which was located on top of a hill!
I went to check out the little lavender field at Furano Winery and nope, they were not blooming at all yet in early June. It was all green.
We next headed to Campana della Vigna by Rokkatei (六花亭) which was near Furano Winery.
The view from Campana was amazing and the kids had fun running around the terrace. Usually I would have inserted an awesome action shot of my kids running around at this point. But I was DEAD BEAT by then so I didn’t bother trying to take photos of my running kids. Sheesh, where do THEY get their energy from? Oh, they slept through the red-eye flight on top of me and then they slept in their comfy car seats during the 2 hours car ride while I drove.
There are few better perk me ups (for me at least) in this world than Hokkaido confectionery. At Campana, you can check out the vineyards, enjoy some Rokkatei sweets and shop for Rokkatei confectionery. Rokkatei stores are ubiquitous throughout Hokkaido. So go for the grape-flavoured confectionery that are only available at this store if you are here!
Next, we drove to Tomita Farm. It was pretty early in the flowering season so the lavenders were not blooming yet.
But when I looked into the lavender field very closely, I found a super baby lavender. There you have it – first lavender of the season. How precious is that??
There were other early summer flowers blooming when we were there. Not exactly spectacular frankly compared to what you would find in July – August, but I can live with this.
Before I forget to mention… The whole time we were in Furano and Biei this time round, I noticed a lot of bees flying around. I didn’t notice them the last time we were here in late June. Not sure if it has to do with the season or the weather. Just watch out for them and don’t get stung. They may even fly into your car when you open the door.
Next we went to Tomita Melon House where the kids had some fun on the tractors and swings.
With a scenery like this, I think I could sit here on the swing all day.
It may be that we were here too early for melon season, but I think the melons at Tomita Melon House were not great compared to what we could get at the markets. However, they do have a pretty wide range of melon confectionery which you can’t find at markets.
After this, it was back to the hotel, New Furano Prince Hotel, to rest. I was actually starting to feel quite sick by the end of the day, so we decided not to drive out for dinner.
We ended up having dinner at Mori No Tokei cafe – which was within New Furano Prince Hotel’s grounds but required a bit of a walk through the forest to get to.
Not sure if I was too sick to taste anything, but I thought the dinner there was crappy. I mean… It looks crappy doesn’t it? Like no, I didn’t take the photo below after my husband ate up all the meat. It was just like that. Sad-looking curry, carrots and rice.
Walking to the cafe was not the problem. Walking BACK was the problem because the walk back was uphill. I think I almost fainted. But somehow I managed to reach the hotel room, popped some panadol and slept till the next day.
Day 2: Furano – Biei – Asahikawa
On this day, I had actually planned to make a long drive to Takinoue to check out shibazakura. But I felt too sick to make the long drive and we ended up just hanging around Furano and Biei. We started with breakfast at Prince Pan Kobo within New Furano Prince Hotel.
Our first destination for the day was Furano Jam Factory, where you can taste a huge range of jams! The kids kind of enjoyed the buffet of sweet jams. They provided bread and biscuits for you to try the jam with.
Then we popped by the Anpanman shop next door which was super fun for the kids. They had indoor and outdoor Anpanman play areas – FREE!
Near Furano Jam Factory and Anpanman, there was a observation deck called Rokugo Viewing Platform which required a drive up the hill.
Around Rokugo Viewing platform, there should be flower fields in summer. When we were there, they were still planting the flowers.
Despite the lack of flowers, I felt the drive up to Rokugo Viewing Platform wasn’t an entire waste of time – provided the weather was good. I enjoyed the view from the top!
We drove on to Furano Cheese Factory next for some cheese sampling and photo ops.
And not forgetting the yummy ice-cream from Ice Milk Kobo. As sick as I was, I could still appreciate a good rich creamy ice-cream. The kids got lucky. Usually when I am not sick, I would give the kids one mouth of ice-cream while finishing the rest myself (yes, I’m an evil mum like that.) But since I was sick, it was the opposite this time.
For lunch, we went back to Yuigadokuson which was open – Yay! If you are dining here, go for the Omelette rice with sausages and oxtail. The omelette rice had cheese filling inside – yummy yummy.
Our next destination was Flower Land Kamifurano.
Flower Land Kamifurano was located on a hill and walking around involved climbing up and down hills. I was really not feeling very well and reckoned if I walked down, I wouldn’t be able to make it back up
So I just sat at the top and rested while the rest of the group went around to explore. One good thing about visiting Furano off-peak, when most of the flowers were not blooming yet, was that it was extremely serene.
I probably fell asleep. Not complaining about waking up to a sight like this.
Next, we drove to Miyama-Toge Art Park where Furano Trick Art Museum was.
I love trick art and on a usual day, I would have loved to visit the trick art museum. But not when I was sick. The rest of the group did not exactly share my love for trick art. so we just took photos at the observation deck and moved on.
Our next stop was Sanai no Chaya Cafe Curve – which was my favourite cafe in the Biei region.
It was so rejuvenating to just sit in the open and enjoy a drink while soaking in the countryside scenery when the weather was this good.
From there, we drove to our accommodation in Asahikawa. We planned to have jinguisukan dinner at the super famous Daikokuya (成吉思汗 大黒屋). I figured if I ate jingisukan (lamb BBQ), I would probably end up bed-ridden the next day and my family would have no driver. So for the safety of my family who would have to sit in a car driven by me the next day, the rest of the group went ahead while I just slept in the hotel.
A point on dining at Daikokuya: If you visiting in large groups or with kids, don’t go to the main store because there are only counter seats there. Go to the 5-chome store instead. The husband said that the jingisukan there was awesome, especially the lamb rack. I wouldn’t know, I had panadol for dinner.
Day 3: Asahikawa – Biei – Asahikawa
We started the morning with a visit to Shirogane Onsen. The drive towards Shirogane Onsen was super scenic!
Along the way, we passed by a beautiful field of yellow flowers.
Do NOT attempt to enter the flower field as it is a privately owned farm, not a tourist attraction. You can only take photos from along the road. So no, this is NOT a place for you to take a selfie lying in a bed of flowers.
We arrived first at Blue Pond, which was a famous attraction in the Biei / Shirogane onsen area. Very uncreative name, I know. I’m serious, the name of the pond is Blue Pond. I didn’t call it Blue Pond because I forgot its name. Anyway don’t underestimate it just because it has a lame name. It is like super popular and often labelled as a must-visit attraction in Hokkaido. But I never found the motivation to visit in all my earlier 4 trips because, well, ‘What’s so fascinating about a blue pond???’, I wondered.
Okay, I admit. I underestimated Blue Pond. It was actually pretty fascinating. It was bigger and uhmmm… bluer than I expected. And it had these peek-a-boo mountain backdrop.
Next, we drove on to Shirohige waterfall.
One of the things I worry about visiting waterfalls was that I would have to trek from the parking lot to see it – Not something I felt I was up to that day. Shirohige waterfall could be seen from the bridge right beside the carpark. Yay!
We drove on to Tokachidake Observatory and it started raining along the way. I contemplated whether to get out of the car (and risk getting more sick than I already was) but eventually decided to just grab an umbrella and go since I have already driven all the way up here.
Despite the rain, I was quite glad we could still see the surrounding mountains. I would have been quite upset if all we saw were clouds (which happened quite often later on in the trip).
For lunch, we went to Farm Restaurant Chiyoda. It started raining heavily while we were there. I am officially cursed when it comes to Chiyoda farm. Two out of two times I was there – it rained. So once again, our plan to let the kids roam around the farm after lunch was ruined.
So after eating what was supposed to be my favourite beef stew but was tasteless to me that day (not sure was it really tasteless or my taste buds stopped working from Panadol overdose), we went for tea break at GOSH Coffee because there was no point in going anywhere outdoors when it was raining. Especially since getting drenched by the rain would make my flu worse. Not that desserts would help me get better but… at least they made me happy.
The rain stopped for a bit after our dessert break and we made our way to Shinnei no Oka.
There were some bright red flowers at Shinnei no Oka that I didn’t see when we visited two years ago. I THINK they were azalea which blooms in Hokkaido in late spring – early summer.
The popular place to see them in Hokkaido was actually at Mount Esan near Hakodate in Southern Hokkaido. I was pleasantly surprised to find them in Biei.
From there, we went on to Shikisai no Oka. The flowers were not blooming yet in early June.
So as not to make it a wasted trip, we let the kids have some fun on the tractors. Young children can ride the tractor at Shikisai No Oka if they are accompanied by adults.
It started raining again, so we gave up any hopes of sightseeing around Biei and went to Biei Senka for
free food tasting souvenir shopping instead.
The rain didn’t look like it was going to stop, so we decided to just go back to Asahikawa. We went shopping at the area around Asahikawa ramen village. You can find Uniqlo, Toys R Us, a big supermarket among other stuff near Asahikawa ramen village.
And we had ramen at Asahikawa Ramen Village for dinner before going back to the hotel.
Official Websites & Map Codes
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- Hokkaido Marugoto Ichiba (Map Code: 113 827 152)
- Kumagera (Map Code: 349 032 102)
- Furano Winery (Map Code: 349 060 668)
- Campana della Vigna Rokkatei (Map Code: 349 090 412)
- Tomita Farm & Tomita Melon House (Map Code: 349 306 019)
- New Furano Prince Hotel (Map Code: 919 553 451)
- Furano Jam Factory & Anpanman Shop (Map Code: 550 803 422)
- Rokugo Viewing Platform (Map Code: 550 774 849)
- Furano Cheese Factory & Ice Milk Kobo (Map Code: 550 840 173)
- Yuigadokuson (Map Code: 349 032 095)
- Flower Land Kamifurano (Map Code: 349 519 480)
- Miyama Toge Art Park & Furano Trick Art Museum (Map Code: 349 639 703)
- Sanai no Chaya Cafe Curve (Map Code: 349 792 775)
- Jingisukan Daikokuya (Map Code: 79 343 888)
- Blue Pond (Map Code: 349 569 817)
- Shirohige Waterfall (Map Code: 796 182 604)
- Mount Tokachidake Observatory (Map Code: 796 093 491)
- Farm Chiyoda (Map Code: 349 734 239)
- GOSH Coffee (Map Code: 349 728 319)
- Shinnei No Oka (Map Code: 349 790 676)
- Shikisai No Oka (Map Code: 349 701 246)
- Biei Senka (Map Code: 389 009 569)
- Asahikawa Ramen Village (Map Code: 79 410 485)
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