Updated: Sep 26, 2019
When people say ‘Lavender’, Furano pops into the mind of many.
This picturesque landscape is in the heart of Hokkaido. The best time to see the Lavender field is between late Jun and early August. Apart from flower farms, there are plenty of other things to see and do in Furano.
I would like to share with you my one-day action-packed itinerary in Furano. The pictures were taken during the last week of July 2019.
Saika no Sato
Occupying a large 6-hectare hill, Saika no Sato is playground for the eyes. As the plantation curves around the contours of the landscape, it creates a visual effect of flower fields that goes on forever. The view from the observatory hut on top is breath-taking. In 2009, The movie, ‘Dear My Love’ (６０歳のラブレター), renowned for its beautiful backdrops, was filmed here. It speaks of unconventional topics, such as life after retirement and emotional connection between the elderly.
Perched on a hill, the Furano Winery (富良野ワイン工場, Furano Wine Kōjō) has been producing local wine since 1972. The shop on the second floor has free wine tasting for those curious enough to drop by for a visit. For those who prefer to stay alcohol-free, the Winery has tasty grape juice, both red and white.
Brunch @ Pizza Factory
I am going to emphasise a bit more on the pizzeria, because this is where we had brunch. The cheese used in our pizza is from the in-house Furano Cheese Factory. The amazing part about this pizzeria is their wood-fire oven. This is a reliable indicator of excellence. There are three types of pizzas in the menu: Margherita, Onion-based and Furano Cheese Special. The Furano Cheese Special is made with 5 kinds of cheese - namely Wine Cheddar, White, Maison du Pierre, Sepia and Mozzarella. Guess which one we had?
Nakafurano Lavender Farm
9am-6pm. Open from 22June to 31August.
I gotta admit, this place wasn’t part of the itinerary. We were on our way to Tomita Farm, but I spy with my little eye a chairlift. This unique feature stopped us in our tracks, and invited us to ride it all the way up. Totally no regrets. The Nakafurano Lavender Farm allowed us to get up close and personal with the lavender flowers. Despite the farm being small, we had a memorable time posing with the flowers.
Today’s cloudy day helped to cool the weather down somewhat, though if it was a bit more sunny, the vibrancy of the multi-colored flower field would jump out more. Tomita Farm is one of the more well-known and popular flower farm in Furano. The farm boasts of 8 fields, four of them dedicated solely to lavender. There are numerous shops, galleries, diners and even a workshop where you can watch a perfumer blend various essential oils to create memorable fragrances.
Tomita Melon House
9am-5pm. Open between Jun-Sep
Find it too troublesome to buy a melon and cut it up? Do not fret, Tomita Melon House will do all the messy work, while you enjoy your melon. If you wish, you can add a serving of soft serve on top of your melon. The sweet orange-fleshed Yubari Melons are a local product of Yubari, Hokkaido, a small city close to Sapporo.
Fact time: The highest price paid for a pair of Yubari melon was 5 million yen (around S$65,000) in 2019. The bidder bought them to celebrate the new era Reiwa.
Open between May-Oct
Feeling stuffed from our pizza breakfast, we decided to skip lunch, and visit Hinode Park. Upon arrival, we reached a huge carpark with a large bathroom. That was at the base of the open camping grounds. Oops.
We then drove a short distance away which brought us to the drive-through Lavender fields. The breezy air, the lack of crowds, and the view of the undulating hills coated in purple was a welcomed refreshing moment. There is a cafe right on the top of the hill where you can dig into an ice-cream parfait, and enjoy the views through a large window.
Shikisai no Oka
9am-7pm. Late Apr to late Oct.
Whoa! This place is packed! Packed with activities, that is. Because of the sheer size of Shikisai no Oka, the best way to explore the place is either the Shikisai-no-oka Norokko (tractor bus) or the cart. The tractor bus, driven by an operator, leads you through the vast lands in a slow and deliberate manner, stopping once for photographs. You can operate your own cart, but do have your driving licence at hand before rental. Those with a lot more adrenaline might want to jump onto a buggy and ride it through the Shirakaba-bataka (White birch garden).
Shirogane Blue Pond
The pond is really blue! Like baby blue. The color of the pond is a result of the natural minerals that has seeped into the water, scattering light resulting in the perceived hue. Apart from the blue pond, there isn’t much else to see or do here apart from a stand selling blue-colored soft serve. It is said that the best time to visit the Blue Pond is really early in the morning (a Japanese travel website suggested 6am during the summer season) when the crowds are thin, and the morning rays are shining through the trees. You gotta live nearby if that’s going to be on your agenda.
Stay @ La Vista Daisetsuzan
Booked via Hotels.com
This European-styled Ryokan seems to fit the theme of a homely cottage in the woods. The drive up to La Vista Daisetsuzan is smooth, as the car climbs up the mountains. My GPS remarked that the hotel is about 800m above sea level.
For dinner, we were allocated a six course French-styled dinner. There was a Japanese dinner option but it was fully booked by the time we arrived. Possibly it’s a first-come first-serve thing, but totally no regrets.
We started our dinner off with a saucer of minced Wagyu topped with sea urchin, followed by a floral plate of carpaccio of flatfish. The star of the show was the roasted Furano Wagyu beef. Let’s not forget that they had free flow access to the Raclette cheese station and the salad bar (which had deliciously sweet white corn - they won me over with that). The room is spacious. There are onsen options on level two, with chilled ice-sticks to takeaway after that warm bath. For those who are feeling peckish late at night, one can grab a piping hot bowl of Ramen from the lobby. Breakfast is buffet-style, but this feels premium! Every table had a personal grill, to warm up the meats, fishes and what-nots you can find at the buffet counter. They had sashimi, and a whooping huge bowl of Ikura for me to help myself to. This place gets 4 thumbs up from me. My parents will love this sort of place.
The original plan was to stay at Asahikawa - but because we've stayed at Asahikawa before, plus staying in the mountains sounded more enticing, we chose to stay here instead.