2014.08.29 | 北海道夏(4C)

[Volume 9 Issue 8, #1936]
Hokkaidō Trip Summer 2014 - DAY 4C of 8: Biei (美瑛)
中文讀者請注意: 因為篇幅問題, 這一系列日本遊記只以英語呈現, 敬請見諒..
the garden hopping trip in Furano (富良野) earlier in the afternoon has given me such a great experience to learn about how the colors of different flowers can bring delights to our lives.. this was the first time i see millions of stalks of flowers at once with my bare eyes, though the gardens are all manmade, i actually felt so close to the nature already.. as we continue our journey to Biei (美瑛) after that, we continued to get close to the nature through a different kind of experience - the Biei Patchwork Road (美瑛パッチワークの路 Biei Patchi-wāku no michi)..
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Bieie Japan
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after Farm Tomita (ファーム富田 Fāmu Tomita), our friend let us choose one between two options: (1) drive further to see more flower fields, or (2) head back to Asahikawa (旭川) and see some other beautiful sceneries on the way as featured in TV commercials.. we thought: (1) would be paiseh to get him to drive any further and (2) two flower fields were good enough and subsequent ones may not excite us anymore.. so we opted for the option (2) and there we were, heading to Biei (美瑛) which is about 20min drive away.. without the expected image of flower fields in our minds, it got us more excited about where our friend would bring us to, you get what i mean??
Biei Japan - Hokusei Hill Observatory Park
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the first stop we made was Hokusei Hill Observatory Park (北西の丘展望公園 Hokusei-no-oka Tenbō Kōen) and in the photo, the observatory deck (展望台 tenbōdai) with a very unique pyramid structure.. i just stayed up there for a brief 3 minutes and left to avoid the crowd.. afterall it is not a tall one, probably just a 10m, so it actually made not much difference looking out from the deck or from the ground.. also as the park is already on a hill, the view was superb enough and i could roam more freely on the ground rather than contained myself on the deck.. :)
Biei Japan - Hokusei Hill Observatory ParkBiei Japan - Hokusei Hill Observatory ParkBiei Japan - Hokusei Hill Observatory ParkBiei Japan - Hokusei Hill Observatory ParkBiei Japan - Hokusei Hill Observatory Park
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and you wonder what it was like looking out from the observatory park?? standing on the hill with cooling breeze, overlooking the rural landscape and mountains at the backdrop, i felt what was captured right in my eyes was such a great blend of masterpiece by both nature and mankind on the surface of Mother Earth.. it was certainly not colorful like the flower fields in Furano (富良野) but the greens i saw was definitely giving more impact on how serenity was felt..
Biei Japan - Patchwork RoadBiei Japan - Patchwork RoadBiei Japan - Patchwork RoadBiei Japan - Patchwork Road
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from the top of Hokusei Hill (北西の丘 Hokusei-no-oka) we enjoyed a bird's eye view of the landscape.. an "overview" which was then followed by us driving on the road through the crops and vegetation fields of Biei (美瑛).. there were rice fields, wheat fields, potato farms, corn fields, buckwheat (蕎麦 soba) fields etc interlacing on the land like forming a piece of patch art, hence the name "Biei Patchwork Road" (美瑛パッチワークの路 Biei Patchi-wāku no michi).. different from the serenity felt overlooking from the top, passing through these fields made me felt myself dwindling into this vast tranquil creation..
Biei Japan - Tree of Ken & Mary
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another highlight along the Biei Patchwork Road (美瑛パッチワークの路 Biei Patchi-wāku no michi) are a few trees that were featured in commercials and commonly recognized by the (Japanese) people.. one of those famous trees is this "Tree of Ken & Mary" (ケンとメリーの木 Ken to Merī no ki), a poplar which is now 91 years old, featured in one of the Nissan Skyline (日産スカイライン) TV commercials in 1972.. it was named after the actor and actress of the commercial, and since then this spot has become a tourist attraction of Biei (美瑛).. interesting huh?? this was the video i found on the web, but can anyone please enlightened us where this tree was seen?? :p
Biei Japan - Tree of Seven Stars
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the next famous tree was this "Tree of Seven Stars" (セブンスターの木 Sebun-Sutā no ki), an oak, which was once printed on the packaging of the Seven Stars Tobacco.. and again, since then this spot has become a tourist attraction of Biei (美瑛).. unfortunately, as we reached the place, two groups of tourists (from "Singland") were there making lots of noise and a middle-aged man among them even went to pluck the leaves from the tree, no qualms of what he was doing yet showing off what he got to his groupmates like he was the hero!! what an unsightly thing that spoilt the beauty of the place!! @#$%^&*
Biei Japan - Zeburu Hills
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the famous trees marked the end of our driving trip on the Biei Patchwork Road (美瑛パッチワークの路 Biei Patchi-wāku no michi).. while you thought our "garden hopping" was over, on the way back to Asahikawa (旭川), we did a very final one at this Zeburu Hills (ゼブルの丘 Zeburu no oka).. colorful flowers and beautiful blossoms which we never get tired of, and thank god this was not packed like Farm Tomita (ファーム富田 Fāmu Tomita).. i am not posting individual photos of the flower fields as this post is more on the serene side of Biei (美瑛), anyway you can actually see similar photos in my previous post..
Asahikawa Japan - Home DinnerAsahikawa Japan - Home Dinner
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we were back to Asahikawa (旭川) around 6pm after a very amazing trip getting close to the flora of Furano (富良野) and Biei (美瑛), one delightful and one serene perfectly balanced.. just the right timing for another round of dinner at home, today we had shabu-shabu (しゃぶしゃぶ) and Hokkaido beer (ビール bīru) and desserts (more melons!!).. needless to say, it was a sumptuous and scrumptious dinner, a very felt-warm one too as we picked food from the pot for each other and kanpai (乾杯 - toast) for friendships.. oh, we also selfied using selfie-stick with remote shutter (no photo shown due to privacy reason), and this "technology" seemed to impress everyone, it's one fun part during the dinner, haha!! :D

to the friend and family, i am so grateful for their hospitality and would like to say お世話に なりました (osewani narimashita) to show how much i appreciate all that were done..
so that was day 4, started off with a serene morning and then half a day of well-balanced delight and serenity, before it ended with a very happy and warm dinner.. this put an end to our 2-day stay in the Northen area of Hokkaido, and the next day we were going to travel to Southern Hokkaido.. stay tune for day 5 in the coming post!! :)

travelogue posts in this series:

2014.08.27 | 北海道夏(4B)

[Volume 9 Issue 8, #1935]
Hokkaidō Trip Summer 2014 - DAY 4B of 8: Furano (富良野)
中文讀者請注意: 因為篇幅問題, 這一系列日本遊記只以英語呈現, 敬請見諒..
after enjoying a rather serene morning in the (still) quiet Heiwa Dori shopping park (平和通買物公園 Heiwa-Dori Kaimono-Kōen) and the beautiful Tokiwa Park (常磐公園 Tokiwa Kōen), we proceeded to one of the highlights of this trip - visiting flower fields in Furano (富良野)!! thank god, it was such nice weather on day 4 itself, else we would have to miss this if it continued to rain like the day before :)
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Furano Japan - On the road to flower fields
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our friend was so kind to take his afternoon off on this monday and drove us all the way from Asahikawa (旭川) to Furano (富良野) for the flower fields.. hence, i don't have much useful information about how to get there.. the tourist information counter in Asahikawa Station (旭川駅 Asahikawa Eki) and most hotels would be able to advice on the transportation, but since many flower fields are not served by public transport, it would be wiser to go for a local tour or better still to rent a car and drive to travel on your own pace.. [Reference]
Furano Japan - Breathtaking views on the road
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it was about an hour's drive (okay, not just 32km if you spotted that in the previous photo, it was taken half way through the journey) but i did not actually feel it taking that long.. the scenery along the road to Furano (富良野) was so picturesque capturing the landscapes of farms and fields, probably gazing out of the window at such scenic views has made me forgotten about time passing away..
Furano Japan - Kanno FarmFurano Japan - Kanno FarmFurano Japan - Kanno FarmFurano Japan - Kanno FarmFurano Japan - Kanno Farm
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during summer, many different species of flowers bloom in the many flower fields along the route from Biei (美瑛) to Furano (富良野), hence the most popular activity in this area would be "garden-hopping".. our first stop was this not-so-tourists-packed like-so-cincai-by-the-roadside-only Kanno Farm (かんのファーム Kanno Fāmu) in Kami-Furano (上富良野 - literally Upper Furano) which already got us so excited!! all i want to say is, breathtaking!!
Furano Japan - Kanno Farm
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... and when i said excited, guess how excited i was?? jumping-high-up kind of excitement that was!! muahahahaha.. okay, so this one looks way more cool than my signature pose huh?? what do you think?? :p
Furano Japan - Farm Tomita Parking
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it was kind of a "garden-hopping" excursion, remember?? so after a brief stay at Kanno Farm (かんのファーム Kanno Fāmu), we continued to the next field.. the Farm Tomita (ファーム富田 Fāmu Tomita) in Naka-Furano (下富良野 - literally Lower Furano) which is, to a higher degree, more established and tourist centered.. this photo was taken at the carpark (parked with lots of cars and tourist buses) looking at the Furano Valley at the far end.. our Japanese friend told me, he comes to this place every year and this was his 4th time..
Furano Japan - Farm TomitaFurano Japan - Farm TomitaFurano Japan - Farm TomitaFurano Japan - Farm TomitaFurano Japan - Farm TomitaFurano Japan - Farm TomitaFurano Japan - Farm Tomita
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colorful fields of flowers and large pieces of lavender fields were found in this Farm Tomita (ファーム富田 Fāmu Tomita).. the excitement was not as intense as we were in Kanno Farm (かんのファーム Kanno Fāmu), first because this was no longer the very "virgin experience" (muahahaha!!), second because this place was very crowded with tourists.. anyway, it was still a very beautiful place i would like to stay to admire the flowers, and also to keep on breathing the very soothing scent of fresh lavenders..
[side note] the scent of fresh lavenders is mild yet soothing, not the strong smell those heavily processed essence/ fragrance/ deodorant/ by-products etc you thought that can make you feel dizzy.. :)
Furano Japan - Tomita Melon HouseFurano Japan - Tomita Melon HouseFurano Japan - Tomita Melon House and the MelonFurano Japan - Tomita Melon House and the Melon
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inside Farm Tomita (ファーム富田 Fāmu Tomita), there is this Tomita Melon House (とみたメロンハウス Tomita Meron Hausu) which is a shop selling all kinds of refreshments in everything melon.. melon is considered as one of the "posh" fruits in Japan and amongst them, the orange-flesh Yubari melon (夕張メロン Yūbari Meron) is the most expensive and coveted breed, like Musang King of durians (???).. so, how could we miss that??!! of course we could not afford one whole Yubari melon each (can be thousands of yens), but two sharing one slice of Furano melon (¥300!!!) just to taste would do also lah.. how did it taste you wonder?? so fragrant and tender and juicy and sweet that i rolled my eyes having it in my mouth!! another favorite of this trip, it's HEAVENLY HEAVEN!!!
Furano Japan - Lavender and Melon Ice Cream
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"trapped" in a lavender farm we were, we bought some (expensive commercial) souvenirs made of lavenders and saw also refreshments made of lavenders!! just had our melons, we cared for nothing but went ahead to get each an ice-cream (¥300), recommended by our Japanese friend who claimed it as the best in Hokkaido.. we had melon (orange color in front) and lavender (violet color at the back), true enough, so silky smooth and lavishly creamy, both very delectable but i personally prefer the melon one more.. okay, yet another favorite of this trip, but don't go and see the giant ones on the left lah basket, kids also know they are fake!! :D
Furano Japan - Farm Tomita
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Furano (富良野) has the similar climate as Provence in Southern France, hence the lavender as well as cheese and wine.. of course we didn't manage to get to the cheese and wine factory due to the shortage of time (and also paiseh to ask our friend to drive further), but i definitely was extremely happy and felt grateful.. look at how sweet i smiled reflecting my feelings, though i was already sunburnt under the bright sun by then, muahahaha!! :D
so that was our "garden-hopping" in Furano (富良野), capturing tons and tons of beautiful images of flowers into our cameras and phones, and of course memories.. certainly not to be missed by nature or flower lovers, being neither one of those but i frankly say, i was pretty amazed by the timeless beauty of nature.. next, still on the same day 4 (yeah, i know you just said "huh?? still got ah??") and continued to be amazed by the nature on the way back to Asahikawa (旭川) for dinner, stay tune!! :)

travelogue posts in this series:

2014.08.25 | 普馬鞋緣

[Volume 9 Issue 8, #1934]
Comfortable Styling with My PUMA Shoes
okay folks, another break from my Hokkaidō travelogue posts.. so, we discussed about DIY trip or group tour previously, but regardless DIY or group, i guess we walk a lot more when we go travel (compared to back home, we drive everywhere we go and even parking also must be near the entrance).. hence, nothing is more important than wearing a real comfortable pair of shoes when we go travel, agree??
i flipped my photos and guess what i noticed?? those shoes i have been wearing were all Puma, haha!! i mean Puma the German multi-national brand established in 1924 that produces athletic and casual footwear lah.. this "leaping blackcat" brand reminds me of my very first pair of sports shoes bought using my own pocket money when i was 15, it was a Puma.. somehow in between i didn't go Puma but rather R.A.N. (no prize for guessing the three brands from the initials), maybe i could "ran" fast back then but now too old and fat to "ran".. okay, lame joke, i know.. 20 years later, i bought my first Puma since the absence and in these two years i have got myself, not one but, four pairs of Puma!! you said i'm crazy?? yeah perhaps, but when you found a great place with great deal for shoes, you probably won't say the same.. where you might want to know?? sabar lah, let me showcase my shoes and my sexy fat trotters legs first, okay?? muahahaha~~ :D
Click image thumbnails below to view larger photo and description
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a line up of my four pairs of Puma shoes bought in these couple of years.. as you can see, i actually like these type of more "fashionable" sneakers rather than those "full spec" sports shoes, if you get what i mean, cos you know i don't really go exercise "full spec" also mah.. what i would go for in a pair of shoes?? comfort with style - that's why i bought them all!! hehe :p
My Puma ShoesMy Puma ShoesMy Puma ShoesMy Puma Shoes
okay okay, i know you can't wait to know where i got these shoes?? nowhere haute, but online shopping at Zalora it is!! who cares, if you get great offers and good service for a wide selection of clothes, shoes and bags, all with just mouse clicks??

2014.08.22 | 北海道夏(4A)

[Volume 9 Issue 8, #1933]
Hokkaidō Trip Summer 2014 - DAY 4A of 8: Asahikawa (旭川)
中文讀者請注意: 因為篇幅問題, 這一系列日本遊記只以英語呈現, 敬請見諒..
due to the whole-day rain the previous day, we did not manage to do much but stayed indoor most of the time.. so, how about day 4 then?? was it a good day with nice weather?? bet the "quota" of rain was fully utilized and yes, it was a nice sunny day, yeah!! :)
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Asahikawa Japan - Kaimono Koen shopping street
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we were put in a hotel downtown just a row of shops away from the Asahikawa Station (旭川駅 Asahikawa Eki) and hence it was just walking distance to the shopping area.. in the photo are shots taken at the Heiwa Dori "Shopping Park" (平和通買物公園 Heiwa-Dori Kaimono-Kōen), built in 1972 and is the first pedestrian-only shopping "park" in Japan.. okay, you wonder why the place looked so empty, or i was so good to avoid the crowd while shooting these photos?? nah, it was too early in the morning at 9:30am and all shops were not yet opened, only the few "stupid" us came!! this way, we could feel the quiet side of this bustling area instead then, hehe!! :p
Asahikawa Japan - Mini Market
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finally found a shop that was open!! it was actually a mini market, selling all sorts of fresh produce, seafood as well as cooked breakfast.. we just had some leftover of last night's dinner that we tapao back to hotel as breakfast, so we were not too into anything else but the fruits.. look at the variety and the colors, it's summer and definitely we must not miss the summer fruits huh?? what did we buy?? you shall know later as you scroll.. :)
Asahikawa Japan - 7-jo Green Belt
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we actually had a morning to spend before our friend drove us to another place (but i'm not telling you yet now, hehe!!) at noon.. so we walked along Heiwa Street (平和通 Heiwa Dori) and towards the end was this place called 7th Street (七条 7-jō) "Green Belt" which is lined with trees both sides.. this is also a street where the authority build different monuments for the "sister cities" of Asahikawa (旭川) from around the world.. okay, it actually looked like just a normal street in Japan, so i did this "signature pose" of mine to spice it up!! hahaha.. not quite "umph" it seemed?? yeah, i knew i need more practice after not doing this for a while :p
Asahikawa Japan - Tokiwa Park
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after a 5-minute walk, we were at the Tokiwa Park (常磐公園 Tokiwa Kōen) where the 7-jō "Green Belt" ends.. this park, taking up a total area of 16-hectare in the center of Asahikawa (旭川), has been the "oasis" of the city since Meiji 43 (明治四三), that is year 1910.. inside this park are also some cultural institutions such as Hokkaidō Asahikawa Art Museum (北海道立旭川美術館 Hokkaidō-Ritsu Asahikawa Bijutsukan), Asahikawa City Central Library (旭川市中央図書館 Asahikawa-shi Chūō Toshokan) and Asahikawa Youth Science Museum (旭川市青少年科学館 Asahikawa-shi Seishōnen Kagakukan).. [Reference]
Asahikawa Japan - Tokiwa Park
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... and of course, there were flowers in the park, beautiful and colorful blooms of many kinds of flowers!! one who love flowers would sit there for the whole day admiring them, i bet.. but don't ask me to name the flowers, because just like fish, all types of flowers are just "flowers" to me, muahaha!! okay, i hope you were not distracted by that photo of my "signature pose", i said i need more practice, didn't i?? hehe~~ :D
Asahikawa Japan - Tokiwa Park
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trees and flowers are probably what a park must have and expected to have (maybe not for Bolehland's parks, haha!!).. the Tokiwa Park (常磐公園 Tokiwa Kōen) has also got a huge pond with fountain in it, called the "Pond of A Thousand Birds" (千鳥池 Chidori-chi).. for a public park so nicely planned and built and upkept, no wonder it is named as one of the best parks in Japan [Reference]..
Asahikawa Japan - Enjoying Kyoho Grapes and Cherries in Tokiwa Park
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with good weather, nice park and beautiful scenery, what's better than to stop and enjoy what we had in front of our eyes?? hence, a "pseudo" picnic we had in the park, savoring fresh fruits we got from the mini market just now - big and juicy Kyoho grapes (巨峰ぶどう Kyohō budō) and Nanyō cherries (南陽桜桃 Nanyō Ōtō) of the Rainier breed, paid ¥864 and ¥324 respectively.. while slurping the juice that spurt out of the fruits, i thought, what a bliss to slow down for a break, and appreciate what we have around us, simple things can be happiness too!! :)
Asahikawa Japan - Asahi Bridge from Tokiwa Park
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by Tokiwa Park (常磐公園 Tokiwa Kōen) is this Ishikari River (石狩川 Ishikari-gawa), longest in Hokkaidō and third in Japan, that flows through the cities of Asahikawa (旭川) and Sapporo (札幌).. okay, you may not see the river in the photo due to the maintenance work on the embankment, hihi.. on the far end is the Asahi Bridge (旭橋 Asahi-Bashi), one of the 740 bridges across the 130 rivers flowing in Asahikawa (旭川), that has been one of the symbols of the city since its completion in 1932 [Reference].. it is said to behold a beautiful sunset view, but with those construction works, ah, we had to just forget about it :p
Asahikawa Japan - Asahikawa Museum of Art
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we left the park passing by the cultural institutions mentioned above, and shown in this photo above was the Hokkaidō Asahikawa Art Museum (北海道立旭川美術館 Hokkaidō-Ritsu Asahikawa Bijutsukan) and surrounding beautiful sculptures.. my personal favorite would be the one on the bottom right, where you can see a hundred littlehuman sculptures in different lively forms lined up on the huge arc [click here to see a larger photo]..
Asahikawa Japan - Cute building downtown
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it was about noon after a leisure stroll along the quiet Heiwa Street (平和通 Heiwa Dori) and a relaxing stay in Tokiwa Park (常磐公園 Tokiwa Kōen).. as we were walking back to the hotel to meet up our friend for the next destination, these were two interesting building i saw.. on the left a cute looking police station and patrol car.. on the right, guess what this yellow building is??

okay, that was the morning of day 4, a rather leisure morning in Asahikawa (旭川).. continuing to another destination in the afternoon, one of the highlights of this trip, friend drove us all the way out of the city for beautiful flowers and lavender farms!! coming up the second post of day 4, stay tune!! :)

travelogue posts in this series: