Hokkaido distinctively has its own merits for each season not just its well-known fluffy snow in winter. As we ended up spending our trip in autumn, we were greeted by beautiful autumn foliages and very fewer tourists.
I had learnt from my first Hokkaido visit that it is truly vast with immense nature and untamed landscape. The island does offer pretty well transportation in terms of trains and buses into the urban areas. Nontheless, they still limit your freedom of exploration. This is what make a self-driving the ideal way to plunge into the beauty of Hokkaido wilderness.
With a group of 11 people, we rented two 6-passenger vehicles from Niconico Rentacar with full insurance coverage and ETC (Electric Toll Collection System).
Day 2 (2019-10-14): Furano – Biei
Furano Cheese Factory
We began our second morning by having a brief breakfast at the Cheese Factory. You can also see our first day of this adventure in Part I. This is the place where you can learn all about Hokkaido local dairy products. They open a bit earlier than other local restaurant. So, we decided to have a bite at Pizza Factory inside the facility as a brief breakfast.
At the area just outside the Pizza place, there was the beautiful sight of orange and yellow leaves trees arraying by the side of the parking area. This could be one lovely leaf-peeping spots. Let the autumn foliage hunting excursion begin!
Driving less than 10 minuits from the Cheese Factory, there the Asahigaoka Park is sitiated and our quest for color-changing leaves continued. A little research had shown me that Asahigaoka Park shall give out the most stunning scenery in Spring because of the full blooms of 3000 cherry blossom trees in unison within the park. Nevertheless, we were lucky enough to experience the park on a good autumn day with blue skies and bright sunlight.
At our first step out of the car we were treated to the beautiful scenery of turned red Japanese Maple trees. Moreover, the trees on the mountains on the other side of the park were in the brightest oranges and reds so we spent the next 20 mins sitting in awe at how colorful the mountains looked before us.
As a result of the wind gust sporadically blowing through the park, the lush grassed ground were blanketed with various shade of colorful autumn leaves, from green to rich reds to golden yellow. Here comes a voluntary collection of my #fromwhereistand.
We didn’t get to see much of Biei as we already lost the sunlight at the time we arrived in Biei the other day. So, we gave it another try.
Heading back to the town of beautiful hills we stopped by Legumes Restaurant Asperges for some dishes full of newly harvested veggies. The restaurant is the collaboration of JA Biei, a distinguished agricultural cooperative, and Mr. Hiroshi Nakamichi, a leading chef in Hokkaido to ensure that every bite is a delight to the palate which it really was (thier potato puree was superb!). In order to have yourself seated, you need to call in to make a reservation before arrival.
Seven Stars Tree
One big fat pro of self-driving in rural Hokkaido is you can have such astonishing views of massive patchwork fields along side wherever you head to. In Biei, many trees on the roads near the patchwork fields have become symbolic of the hills like the Seven Stars Tree. The tree had come to fame for being used on a Seven Star cigarettes’ package in 1976. There was nothing much to see but an oak tree erecting next to a vast potato farm but the nice landscape and open spaces soothed us the joy of photo shooting.
Shikisai no Oka
Mid October is obviously not the best time for flowers sightseeing in Hokkaido but we still wanted to check them out nonetheless. At Shikisai no Oka, most blossoms had gone withered and dried. There was no sight of the purple of lavenders but yet the scene of the remaining flowers was still admirable.
If you have some time to kill, Furano Marche can be a nice place to stop by. It is the local farmer’s market where the season’s products and Hokkaido signature pastries are picked out.
Teppan Okonomiyaki Masaya
The real reason we were lingering around the Marche was to find a good dinner place for such a big group of visitors like ours. And there we found Teppan Okonomiyaki Masaya, located just 5-minuit walk from the Marche. The place received so many complements online and at the time we were there we experienced that those reviews were not hoaxed. The sole inconvenience we had was the insufficiency in the parking space in front of the restaurant during the busy dinner hour. Beyond that everything was very pleasurable. Friendly staffs with well English communication skill. The service was great and the chief offered a fine fire cooking show when your order included a grilled rib pork. We tried almost every dish recommended on the menu. They were delicious and their Yakisoba (stir-fry noodles) was my favorite. Well, Masaya you has just got another thumbs-up hit from us!
Once you are in Hokkaido no matter which part or what city of it, I highly recommend you to try its melons and green grapes. After dinner we bought some of these fruits from a local supermarket on the way to our chalet. Hokkaido melons are the best melons I have ever tried so far.
The freshly harvested ones had such great aroma. and the taste was incredibly sweet with extra succulency. The island’s selling green grapes were, too, amazing. They were mostly seedless and super rich in juice. It was a perfect way to complete the day with these mellow sweetnesses.
See my first day in Hokkaido in the link below:
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