ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “中富良野

LAVENDER BUDS, Nakafurano (中富良野), Hokkaido (北海道), Japan, 2019.06.21

Day 7 (1/5).

Coming to Furano in summer without checking out its lavender farms is like going to Lisse in the Netherlands in spring without visiting Keukenhof Garden to see blooming tulips.  Various types of lavender can be found in Furano, and each has its bloom time between late June to early August.  The peak tourist season is mid July when popular lavender farms would be packed with visitors.  Lavender was not our main purpose of the trip, so we didn’t plan our visit according to the peak bloom time.  In fact, we came a few weeks too soon when the flower farms were much less crowded than their peak season.  As expected, while most lavender plants were not yet in full bloom but the violet colour were beginning to show from the buds.

Tadao Tomita started cultivating lavender in 1958, but considering stopping in 1976 because they failed to make lavender profitable.   Fortunately, a photographer came by his lavender farm, took a photo of his lavender field and published the photo in the calender of the national railway company (JR).  That immediately led to a big surge of tourists flocking in to see Tomita’s lavender fields.  Since then, lavender tourism had become part of Furano’s identity and never looked back.  As lavender was picking up the steam, a local visitor suggested Tomita to start making potpourri and other lavender products.  These lavender souvenirs and tourism itself have been able to sustain the lavender farms, while Tomita gradually expanded the farm with more tourist facilities. Since then, other lavender farms flourished in Furano after Tomita’s success.  Before visiting Tomita Farm, we first checked out two smaller facilities in Nakafurano: Choei Lavender Farm and Saika no Sato Lavender Farm.

DSC_5756Run by the municipal government, the Choei Lavender Farm offers visitors in town the first glance of this year’s lavender.

DSC_5757The ski lift of Choei Lavender Farm would operate between late June to August.

IMG_9770Up on the slope at Choei Lavender Farm, we could see the lush-green lavender plants standing in front of the distant mountains.

DSC_5763A small area of Choei Lavender Farm, was dedicated to white lavender.

DSC_5764Too bad we couldn’t take the sky lift up the slope.

DSC_5766We came few weeks too earlier, as most lavender plants were far from full bloom while we were there.

DSC_5786Despite of that, we still enjoyed taking photos of the iconic lavender of Furano.

DSC_5788Choei Lavender Farm consists of rows after rows of lavender plants on the slope.  During full bloom, the slope would turn violet in colour.

IMG_9805Just a few minutes of drive from Choei lies Saika no Sato Lavender Farm, another popular farm in Nakafurano famous for lavender fields.

IMG_9802At Saika no Sato Lavender Farm, we stopped by its cafe for a drink.

IMG_9801We ordered their signature purple heart drink: lavender ice in calpris, a Japanese soft drink that is somewhat milky and vanilla flavored.

DSC_5801Similar to Choei Lavender Farm, we were once again too early for the lavender fields in Saika no Sato.

DSC_5814Depending on the type, the lavender in Saika no Sato had a slightly deeper hue of purple than the ones we saw in Choei.

DSC_5849While lavender might not be at its best, we did appreciate seeing other beautiful spring flowers in Saika no Sato.

DSC_5850The spring flowers in Furano reminded us of springtime in Toronto, as both Hokkaido and Toronto share a similar latitude of 43 degree north, and thus we could easily draw their similarities in terms of tree and plant species.

 

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ARRIVING IN FURANO (富良野), Hokkaido (北海道), Japan, 2019.06.20

Day 6 (3/3).

A sudden downpour greeted our arrival to the farming community as we left Hoshino Resorts Tomamu and entered Minamifurano  or South Furano (南富良野).  A long and winding road cut through fields of rice paddies, wheat and corn, and passed by rows after rows of farming greenhouses against the backdrop of Tokachi Mountain Range (十勝岳).  Further afield, rolling fields of summer flowers had yet reached their peak moment of summer blossom.  We could imagine that at its peak in mid July, these fields could well be covered in rainbow colours: sunflower, poppies, lilies, and most famous of all, different types of lavender.  At one point, we stopped the car right by a small country road, just to taste the sweetness of nature and feel the mountain air after the rain.  Mist rose from the distant mountains beyond farming fields, making a perfect and dreamy picture of Hokkaido countryside. Welcome to Furano!

Located in the heart of Hokkaido Island, Furano is (富良野) a sleepy town about 100km inland from the sea, enjoying a continental climate that sees heavy and powdery snowfall in winter.  Like Niseko, Furano is a popular skiing resort in winter.  During summer, Furano is a rural wonderland famous for its farmlands and vineyards, especially its rolling hills of flowers that includes the iconic lavender.  Drawing large amount of Japanese and Chinese tourists, summer flowers, especially lavender, have imprinted a vivid postcard image in visitors’ mind even before they arrive in Hokkaido.  For the Japanese, the works of scriptwriter Sō Kuramoto (倉本 聰) have presented the beauty of Furano to everyone in the nation in the past 40 years, marking the relative sleepy town in Central Hokkaido onto Japan’s tourist map.

DSC_5751We stopped the car at a small country road to inhale our first breathe of fresh air from Furano.

DSC_5752Furano is well known for its fine agricultural produce.

IMG_9734Large plastic greenhouses could be seen in many areas around Furano.

IMG_9743No matter where in Japan, rice paddies is often the dominate landscape.

IMG_9746In Hokkaido, wheat is also a main staple food for noodles and bread.

IMG_9749In Central Furano, a complex of four retail buildings known as Furano Marche introduces local produce, snacks and souvenir for visitors and foreigners.

IMG_9750We got ourselves some food for a light dinner.

IMG_9753We got ourselves potato fries, hamburger and fried chicken (all ingredients from the region) for dinner.

IMG_9758From Furano Marche, we had the opportunity to try the local sweet white corn, which could be consumed raw.

DSC_5754In Furano, we stayed at Pension Yamasan in the village of Nakafurano (中富良野), the home of the famous lavender farms like Farm Tomita and Saika-no-Sato.

IMG_9762Dried lavender is used as decorations and natural air freshener.

IMG_9763We were free to use the dining hall for breakfast and evening television.

IMG_9764The common area of Pension Yamasan is full of the owner’s character.

IMG_0040Situated on a hill across from Mount Tokachi, Pension Yamasan offered us pleasant view of the mountain range and fields of Nakafurano.

DSC_5796For visitors without their own wheels, railway is their best bet for reaching the lavender farms in Nakafurano.

DSC_5798After the rain, Furano River was a little muddy at Nakafurano.

DSC_5797Despite we were a month too early to see the lavender in full blossom, other summer flowers were indeed everywhere in Nakafurano.