The lavender fields in Furano
Hokkaido, the wonderful lavender fields in the North of Japan
Furano doesn’t look too welcoming when you step off the train. A place of low, sparse houses and wide perpendicular streets. Empty. I realize once again how the cities and even more the Japanese towns can look soulless, anonymous. But Furano is something more. It has a peculiar atmosphere. Among the houses I catch glimpses of the beautiful mountains that surround the town. There is something in the air, something wild: it’s like a sound.
It’s as if the mountains are calling me.
I wish I had a car. Furano is famous for what’s around it: the nearby mountains are known for hiking and skiing, and the Daisetsuzan National Park is not far away. It’s also famous for the beautiful, perfectly shaped hills in the Biei area and well known for the long-running Japanese drama (a soap opera), Kita no kuni Kara (from a northern country); the area is also home to some really interesting products: wine and Camembert-style cheese. Eventually, Furano is also famous for flowers, especially lavender. July is the best month to see the fields in full bloom. This is why I came here.
It’s July and Farm Tomita is supposed to be the best spot to see the flower crops in bloom. The lavender fields are a pleasing sight. But what is really special about Farm Tomita is not the sight of the flowers. Don’t get me wrong, they are incredibly beautiful, but not too different from what you can see in Italy or France. It is rather the context, the atmosphere that is special. What I love is the passion of the Japanese for events like these, that last only for a short span of time. The visit is more like a party. It resembles a spring hanami in the wrong season, and you toast with lavender ice cream rather than sake.
How to get to Furano and Farm Tomita
Furano can be reached with the express train from Sapporo (about two hours). In summer some trains stop during the weekend at the temporary station Lavender – Batake (230 yen about ten minutes). You will probably have to take the Furano Kururu bus instead, which runs three times a day (25 minutes, 1200 yen pass for two days). The most beautiful lavender fields are said to be those of Lavender east, about five kilometers east of Farm Tomita, unfortunately no bus goes there. In Hokkaido railways are not as developed as in other parts of the country. Therefore, the best way to move around the island is to rent a car.
Lavender in Furano: more info
- The Farm Tomita website.
- The page on Japan Guide.
- Lavender ice cream at Farm Tomita
- Furano on the offical Jnto page
All the texts are by Patrick Stephen Colgan. All pictures by me, when not otherwise specified, are licensed under the Creative Commons licence by-nc-sa. For commercial uses please contact me. Most posts are translated from my italian blog, Orizzonti.