Biei / HokkaidoBlue Water, Rolling Hills, and a Patchwork of Color: Biei in Hokkaido


Located in the center of Hokkaido, Biei leaves a lasting impression! The distinctive blue waters of the Biei River and the Blue Pond combine with the rolling hills of farmland framed against the distant Tokachi Mountains to create an unforgettable landscape.

Long ago, volcanic activity from Mt. Tokachi shaped the hills and covered Biei’s land in volcanic ash. It was not until around 1900 that Japanese farmers began to prepare the soil for crops, but since then, Biei’s hills have been transformed into a colorful patchwork of different vegetables and flowers.

Cycle through Scenic Rolling Hills

Take the paths less traveled for a truly memorable cycling tour.

One of the best ways to appreciate Biei’s remarkable and unique scenery is on a bicycle. Though the hills are not overly steep, their undulating shape means you’ll soon be very grateful to have the electronic assistance that comes with a rental e-bike. These bicycles have adjustable seats, so even taller, long-legged guests need not worry.

The local guide will take you around some truly scenic areas.

Going out with a local English-speaking guide gives you an opportunity to explore some of the lesser-known spots.

Let the refreshing breeze of the fields tousle your hair!

The guide will show you around access roads that are not traveled by rental cars, taxis, or buses, enabling you to enjoy the beautiful scenery free of traffic and to appreciate the fresh, clean air.

Catch Your Breath and a Spectacular View

Nowhere else in Japan has scenery quite like this!

You’ll pass many scenic spots during the cycling tour, but one of Biei’s most famous is the Shinei-no-Oka Observatory Park, established atop a small hill. If the weather is cooperative, you’ll be able to catch a 360-degree view that includes the famous patchwork fields overshadowed by the dramatic Tokachi Mountains looming in the background.

Run through the flower field in Shinei-no-Oka Observatory Park, which is open to the public!

While most of the fields in Biei are privately owned and thus off-limits to visitors, this park features one flower field that is open especially to the public. If your visit to Biei takes place during the summer months (particularly July through late September), look for the distinctive, round hay-bale character known as Roll-kun, and you’ll find an entrance to stroll amidst the flowers and immerse yourself in Biei’s beauty.

Unwind and Refresh at the Hot Springs in Shirogane

Outdoor hot springs at Shirogane Park Hills.

Just a short drive toward those Tokachi Mountains from Biei lies the pleasant hot-springs town of Shirogane. There are a variety of places at which to stay, but the largest of these is Shirogane Park Hills, located in the town center.

The hotel restaurant dishes up Hokkaido flavors with local ingredients.

The hotel restaurant offers a mix of Japanese and Western dishes made with Hokkaido ingredients, including fresh Biei vegetables.

The rooms are spacious with soft, warm lighting.

In true Japanese ryokan (traditional inn) style, dine while wearing a comfortable, loose-fitting yukata and then soak in their indoor or outdoor hot-spring baths to ease your muscles after the day’s cycling.

Glimpse Unusual Waterfalls Fed by an Underground Spring

Water flows out of the rock and into the blue Biei River.

Just behind Shirogane Park Hills is Shirahige Falls, one of Hokkaido's most famous and unusual waterfalls. These are called Shirahige (white beard) because white curtains of water that resemble an old man’s beard cascade down from gaps in the rocky cliff—the source of the water is an underground river rather than a typical stream flowing from above.

Biei River has a distinctive blue color.

The falls feed into the Biei River, streaming down from the mountains, and from a high vantage point the distinctive blue color of the water is all the more apparent. The waterfall is particularly stunning in the winter, when frost-encrusted trees and shimmering icicles showcase the ravine below.

Hunt for Corn to Enjoy Right in the Field

Searching for “Pure White” sweet corn that is ready to eat right off the stalk!

In Biei, eating corn on the cob takes on an entirely new meaning when tasting freshly husked corn. The Fujiwara family farm grows both familiar yellow corn and also a variety known as “Pure White,” which can be eaten raw! True to the name, the kernels are gleaming white, and the corn is incredibly sweet.

The mature kernels of this corn variety are pearly white.

During this activity, your guide will help you harvest the best corn to taste—and share some trivia as well, such as why you won’t find any yellow corn growing nearby. Speaking of yellow corn, though, you’ll have a chance to try that too—after it’s been boiled, of course. You’ll be surprised at how different the two types of corn taste!

Enjoy a Hearty Lunch of Local Biei Beef

The entrance to Farm Restaurant Chiyoda.

Farm Restaurant Chiyoda serves up the ultimate in local produce since they manage their own pastureland with both Jersey dairy cows and Japanese wagyu cattle ranging freely. The wagyu cattle consume feed mixed with sake kasu (the lees left over from producing sake), making for marbled beef with a very tender texture.

Biei wagyu sirloin steak.

The restaurant menu includes hearty Western fare, such as cuts of juicy sirloin steak, and Japanese-style dishes, such as beef rice bowls, as well as Hokkaido’s signature soup curry made with Biei vegetables. Their fluffy bread is made from additive-free Biei wheat, rich Jersey-cow milk, and butter from the farm.

There is a hill behind the restaurant overlooking the ranch.

After lunch, head up the hill behind the restaurant and take in a lovely view of the patchwork hills and the cattle roaming the grassy pastures down below.

Get Hands-On with Biei’s Agriculture

Learn about the different types of crops planted in the fields.

Having already gained a broad view of Biei’s farmland, now it’s time to get out in the field—literally! However, given that farmland is private property and there is a risk of inadvertently causing damage to crops, the only option is to head out on a guided tour.

Red azuki beans in the pod.

The friendly and knowledgeable guide will explain various aspects of Biei agriculture, such as why the white sandy soil sparkles, how crop rotation is implemented, and the ways farmers have adapted to the unique conditions of Biei with techniques like crop arrangement.

Access information

Getting to Biei, Hokkaido:

From Sapporo, Biei is about a 2.5-hour drive on the Doo Expressway or a 2-hour train ride. If flying into Asahikawa Airport, Biei is only about a 35-minute drive. It’s easy to include Biei in a visit to neighboring Furano, which is about 35-40 minutes away depending on whether you travel by car, bus, or train.

Article provided by: JTB Communication Design, Inc.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change. Unless stated otherwise, prices do not include tax.
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About “Countryside Stays“

If you’re looking for a new way to experience Japan, sign up for a farm-stay experience through the Countryside Stays Japan program and participate in traditional rural-lifestyle activities in recommended countryside locations.


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