Saturday, October 13, 2018

Lavender Fields in Nakafurano

Nakafurano really was the reason why I came to Hokkaido in summer. Because it is in summer, from mid-July to August, that Nakafurano's lavender fields come full color.

Lavender on Nakafurano's manhole cover. No surprise.

I arrived at Nakafurano Station a little before 8am and it was mostly locals who got off at the station. Aside from the family of three who were met by their tour guide/driver at the station, I was the only tourist in this town. And that's because the star (aka tourist magnet) of Nakafurano is Farm Tomita, 1.7 kilometers from the station and won't be open until 830am.

I took my sweet time walking the 1.7 kilometers to Farm Tomita. First, I went to the Furano Lavender Fields, just a 5-minute walk behind the Nakafurano Station. The bottom third of the slope of the Furano Lavender Fields was not lavender, but was planted with orange and yellow flowers and there were half a dozen workers tending them. Higher up on the slope were lavender fields. The Furano Lavender Fields, in winter, becomes a ski area (there's a ski lift off the side of the slope).

The lower portion of the Furano Lavender Fields

From Furano Lavender Fields to Farm Tomita, it was all green hills, green fields, and a few houses in between. The most interesting sight was a small, unmanned vegetable shop! (The only other time I had seen an unmanned shop was in Batanes, the northernmost province in the Philippines.) In this fresh produce shop were packs of tomatoes, beans, and various greens for sale, a notebook where customers write what they bought, a box to drop their payment in, a bunch of plastic bags for the customer to put their veggies in, and no English signs.

Countryside views

An unmanned vegetable shop

Farther down the road I saw a huge lone melon balloon floating in the vast cloudless sky, and somehow I knew I had arrived at Farm Tomita.

Farm Tomita has nine flower fields. Nine! Four fields were for lavenders alone! Whoa! This is what I came here for! Lavender fields! (A friend asked me if it smelled like lavender perfume...I think my sense of sight was overwhelmed that I did not really notice the smell!)

My eyes turned into purple hearts upon seeing this

Hobby time at Farm Tomita

It was not only lavender fields in Farm Tomita. They had fields of different flowers in colorful rows. A field of poppies. And a white birch forest. It was all too beautiful for words!

Color pop!

A field of poppies

 White Birch Forest

There were many shops dotting Farm Tomita. Almost all of the shops were selling soaps, perfumes, essential oils, and other locally produced specialty items. The Dried Flower House sold dried flowers (duh!), and was filled with exhibits of dried flower arrangements. The sweetest smelling area in Farm Tomita was the Distillery Workshop where lavender essential oil was being made.

 Dried Flower House

Pretty dried flowers

There were only two restaurants in Farm Tomita: Potpourri House and Cafe Rene. Both were busy or full. Summer, after all, is peak tourist season in the farm. I had lunch of vegetable curry (seasonal vegetable; during my visit it was broccoli) for 600 yen at Cafe Rene.

But if one was looking for refreshing snacks, there was plenty! There were shops selling fresh melon slices, ice cream, jelly, bread, sweets, drinks, etc. Not to miss are their lavender flavored edibles: lavender soft serve ice cream, lavender milk candy, lavender cheesecake, lavender jelly, lavender soda, lavender coffee, lavender tea. I wished I had a bottomless pit of a stomach and a bottomless wallet! But I didn't and I was limited to just a slice of fresh melon (250 yen) and a cone of lavender soft serve ice cream (300 yen).

Fresh, juicy melon! Refreshing!

Lavender soft serve ice cream

How to Go to Nakafurano

From Sapporo – In summer, there is a direct train called Furano Lavender Express that runs between Sapporo and Furano. It leaves Sapporo Station a little before 8am, and arrives in Furano Station two hours later. But Furano Lavender Express does not make a stop at Nakafurano Station nor the Lavender Farm Station. At Furano Station, you have to transfer to the JR Furano Line to go to Nakafurano Station (20-minute walk to Farm Tomita) or take the JR Norokko-go which stops at the Lavender Farm Station (7-minute walk to Farm Tomita). Note though that JR Norokko-go only operates in summer and only runs a few times a day.

From Asahikawa – At Asahikawa Station, take the JR Furano Line to Nakafurano Station. The train ride will take about an hour and 20 minutes. Then walk 1.7 kilometers, or around 20 minutes, to Farm Tomita. The other option is to take the JR Norokko-go which stops at Lavender Farm Station. The JR Norokko-go is an open-air sightseeing train in that it has benches facing the fields. It only operates in summer and the daily schedule is limited (only one train per day to/from Asahikawa).

JR Norokko-go

JR Norokko-go interior

View from the open-air window of JR Norokko-go

On my return journey, I had taken the JR Norokko-go schedule which terminates at Biei and I had to make a transfer to get to Asahikawa. (Only the last train, which leaves Lavender Farm Station around 4pm, goes straight to Asahikawa).

Japanese Summer 2018
Otaru on Foot
Asahikawa Accommodation: Asahikawa Ride
Beautiful Nature in Biei Town
Lavender Fields in Nakafurano (you're here!)
Daisetsuzan National Park: A Short Hike in Asahidake
Shikotsu-Toya National Park: Hiking Thru Hell in Noboribetsu
Six Short Hours in Hakodate
Shikotsu-Toya National Park: Walking Through Abandoned Places in Toya
Hokkaido Rail Pass
Itinerary and Expenses: 9D/9N Hokkaido and Sawara Town

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