Furano in Summer: Where Flowers Abound
Furano in Japan’s Hokkaido Prefecture is a popular tourist destination. It is famous for its gorgeous blooms in summer. I am a flower lover, so a visit to Furano was a MUST-DO when we were on holiday in Hokkaido this summer.
Getting to Furano
Our plan was to take the Furano Lavender Express which provided a direct transfer from Sapporo to Furano. However, we took the Furano Biei Norokko train (富良野・美瑛ノロッコ号) on recommendation by the staff at the tourist information counter in Tokyo Station. “Noroi” in Japanese means “very slow” while “torokko” refers to an open air mine cart or an open air observation car (in present day use). Together, they formed the term “norokko“. I thought the name couldn’t be more appropriate for a slow cruising steam train.
The special Furano Biei Norokko (FBN) operates in summer, between early June to late September. This is the only train that stops at the Lavender Farm Station (ラベンダー畑), which is a temporary station that is also only open in summer.
We boarded the FBN in Asahikawa. What greeted us was a window-less train with classic wooden benches. We were lucky to reserve seats in Car 1, where there was a mini kiosk selling snacks, drinks as well as Norokko exclusive merchandise. The open-air design allowed all passengers to enjoy the sight and sound (and breeze!) as the FBN cruised through the serene countryside.
After 1 hour 20 minutes, we finally arrived at the Lavender Farm Station! Here, we were issued a certificate of riding (乘车证明书) for travelling on the FBN. There was also a stamp counter in Car 1 for stamping the certificate.
Although we had to walk about 7 minutes to Farm Tomita, we were still in high spirits. Nothing could dampen our moods from the clear blue skies and beautiful greenery/scenery all around us.
Farm Tomita was a relatively huge farm which encompassed ten different flower fields and thirteen houses. The distinctive scent of lavender was omnipresent in the air here. Given the limited time we had here, we decided to check out the fields only.
Centre of the Farm
The first field that welcomed us to the farm was the Hanabito Field. This field comprised of various colourful flowers.
Right beside this was the Sakiwai Field, which was the centrepiece of the farm. Various breeds of lavender grows here, all of which lent their colours to form the sea of lavender before us. The farm was packed to the brim with tourists, making photo-taking a big challenge. For some of the popular spots around the Sakiwai Field, we had to wait for our turn to snap pictures.
South-West of the Farm
We visited the Irodori Field but it was not in bloom. It was a minor disappointment as the hill was supposed to be adorned with the 7 colours of the rainbow.
The farm had several cafes which provided shelter from the hot summer weather. We took a break in one of these and discovered that they were selling soft serve (like most tourist attractions in Japan). The flavour here was a must-try, as it was none other than lavender.
North-East of the Farm
After the little break, we headed over to the Traditional Lavender Field. This area was quite deserted compared to the other fields. I guess most other visitors were not keen to trek up to the field under the midday sun. For us, we felt the little climb was worthwhile as we managed to get a scenic view of Mount Tokachi.
Before setting off for our next destination, we took another break (the weather was simply too hot!) at another cafe, Potpourri House. It was pure joy sipping Lavender Calpis (a milk-based beverage popular in Japan) while penning on a postcard embedded with dried lavender.
The House had a deck which overlooked the vibrant blooms in the Autumn Field. We took the chance to soak in the view as well.
The Autumn Field and Spring Field were the last fields we visited as we made our way back to the entrance of the farm. There was no lavender here, but the other flowers made up for it by blooming spectacularly under the summer sun.
It was a great experience for
me us, as I we always wanted to see the lavender in the Hokkaido summer. Overall, the visit to Farm Tomita was really enjoyable, from the train ride, to the farm view, to the unique lavender soft serve and drinks.
Other photos from Farm Tomita
Address: Kisen Kita 15-go, Nakafurano-cho, Sorachi-gun, Hokkaido 071-0704
Access: By car, bus or railway. (More details on the website)
Website: Farm Tomita Official Homepage
P.S. If you intend to travel around Japan, do approach the friendly tourist information counter located at Tokyo Station near to the Manrunouchi side. The staff is able to give travel suggestions for your itinerary.