Pretty enough for your desktop.
The beauty of Biei has surpassed its small town borders to attract world-class photographers, ad execs, and TV directors. But despite its popularity, this pastoral heaven remains refreshingly devoid of tourist trappings.
There’s little to do except give your full attention to fields of flowers, rolling hills, and a lake so strikingly blue that Apple made it a wallpaper.
Take a trip down Patchwork Road and Panorama Road, the two well-marked routes where Biei’s rural scenery is at its best. Patchwork Road, named after its medley of crops that result in the fields looking like a patchwork quilt, contains a number of trees famous for being the botanic stars of commercials and dramas. They look majestic and solitary against the vast vistas of sky and earth. Climb up the Hokusei Hill Observatory for a panoramic view that stretches far into the distance.
Admire cheery rows of flowers from the Hill of Shikisai and Shinei Hill Observatory on Panorama Road. This area also offers some charming cafes and restaurants, as well as hands-on farming experiences like making butter and milking cows.
Though the most convenient way to traverse Biei’s sights is by rental car or tourist bus, in good weather you should cycle through the hills without a care in the world for an idyllic countryside day-in-the-life. Regular bicycles and electrically-assisted ones are available for rent at multiple shops around the station.
In Biei, the highly sought after beauty of Japan’s distinct seasons is on full display. Each season reveals a new side of nature: from the lush windswept hills of summer, to the boundless white fields of winter.
A 20 minute bus ride outside the city lies the justly named Blue Pond. Thanks to aluminum deposits in the water, the pond reflects the colour of the sky, giving the surface a supernaturally bright blue tint. Slim dead birch trees emerge from the water.
The overall effect, especially thanks to the lack of tourism-related development, is one of having accidentally stumbled into another world.
Take the same bus to the last stop and you’ll reach Shirogane Onsen, a small hot spring resort surrounded by nature. The bridge offers a high vantage point over Shirahige Waterfall, which is worth visiting year-round, but especially spectacular when it freezes beneath the snowfall of winter.
Topics: Japan's Great Outdoors