Cycling through the Rustic Charm of Biei, Hokkaido

I’ve wanted to cycle in Hokkaido for a long time and I finally did last weekend! I went skiing in Sapporo last winter and I left a part of my heart there on the island’s beauty. After Sapporo my next destinations were Furano and Biei. Granted, summer is widely known as the best time for visiting these small towns for the sight of of lavender season, but at the middle-end of October, autumn colors were in their prime! It wasn’t as cold as I expected, either, I didn’t complain about the 10-degree temperature (almost) at all.

Furano and Biei are 2.5 hours train ride from Sapporo via Asahikawa (the train from Asahikawa was the cutest ever-it has only one car! xD) We started our tour with Tomi-san of Field North (recommended tour!) by cycling from Shirehage waterfall to the Blue Pond. The Pond was blazing bright turquoise, the color was just mesmerizing. Here I encountered again, the humility and smiles of local people working at their treasured place. Something you don’t see at every touristic places, but quite natural in Japan.

One car train
Truly Blue Pond!

On the way to the Blue Pond we had a Hokkaido-kind of lucky experience: coming across a wild fox! She was strutting around a parking lot with its winter outfit (thick mane) when we came close. First came to my mind the Little Prince’s Fox, the one asking to be tamed, then I remembered the story in Sapiens, about how our ancestors domesticated animals and make them fear us using various weapons and leash… She stopped immediately and eyed us cautiously before slowly disappearing into the woods. Meeting the fox was one of my favorite parts of the trip, reminds me of the time we saw wild deer on the way to Lake Shikotsu in February!

But of course the best part of this cycling trip was the scenery itself. I couldn’t stop praising the view! White birch trees, clear water, green fields, pure blue sky, and come on, we saw submarine shaped clouds! 😀 The nature of these farming towns are so pure, its air is delighted with the smell of freshly cut grass, its walls painted in yellow-red-green-orange scheme. The fields were not green anymore, but we could see farmers harvesting and see the heaps of produce. Carrots as big as half an arm, onions bigger than my fist, corn sweeter than your Indian morning tea!

Submarine-shaped cloud!

 

 

 

We enjoyed 27 km of countryside cycling and mountainous landscape of Biei from a high point of the hills. Kudos to Yamaha for their electricity-assisted bicycles, we traveled that far without suffering and some of us only had light muscle pain post-trip. :p

Biei_80

 

 

 

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And I’m lucky to have a lovely travel companion this time. I have no problem with solo traveling, I enjoy it, but sometimes having the right travel companion makes a trip more enjoyable. Atra and I both like to take our time at our chosen spots, try local food and sweets, we like to be planned but flexible. I usually have one or two main plans to be accomplished, this time it was the cycling trip and I was open for anything after that. She takes over my lower priority: she researched places to eat, while I usually just pick a place that serve what I want wherever I found them whenever I’m hungry hahaha. I would’ve loved to eat sushi again but I tried instead the snow crab (delicious!) and curry soup (recommended!)

We both got carried away sometimes, so the trip wasn’t perfect :p but we had a great time. We compensated our food baby with some exercises (running at airport) :p we took pictures of each other without being excessively selfie addicts. We also kinda break our boundaries by going to onsen together :p so who knows what’s next? LOL Thanks Atra!

Hokkaido is definitely my favorite travel destination in Japan. I mean I like Kyoto’s relic, the ancient temples and gardens, the traditions. I love the oldish atmosphere (I’m rather old school), but the temples can be overcrowded and some of the old traditions remind me of aristocracy and patriarchy which I do not appreciate (while it is arguably ‘Japanese’ in general). I’ve never been to the Okinawa islands, because they seem familiar, so I can’t say. I like Hiroshima, but the nature of Hokkaido is unbeatable. It is is raw, rustic, casual, what I look for in travel destination. I can relax, be myself, be friendly or be distant whenever I want to, and find inspiration and refreshment of course. Where to next? Thinking of Oita, Nagano, or yet other parts of Hokkaido!

Photo by Atra
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