“Blue sky smiling at me, nothing but blue sky do I see” this very quote popped up in my mind when our plane had touched the runway of the New Chitose Airport on October 13th. I was so afraid that this short trip to Hokkaido would be volatile due to the landfall of the most terrifying Hagibis. But we made it safe and sound. So, I am gratefully here to share our tried-and-tested itinerary in Hokkaido at the beginning of autumn season to help you make the most of your trip, too.
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 1 (2019-10-13): Asahikawa – Biei – Furano
Toriton Asahikawa Branch
After picking up our wheels, we headed up northeast to Asahikawa to fulfill wishes of Sushi enthusiasts in our group at Toriton conveyor-belt sushi restaurant. It is quite a busy restaurant so expect a long waiting line. According to our team members the food quality was quite average and was not up to expectations. But to me their seafood was acceptably fresh especially salmon nigiri was very delicious.
When tummies were fueled it’s time to explore! Our next stop was Biei which is most famous for its picturesque landscape of lightly rolling hills and vast fields. En route somewhere nearby Kita-Biei train station, we stumbled upon an amazingly lovely sunflower field which we voluntarily stopped for some snaps of memorable pictures without hesitation. This is such the utmost pro of having you own set of wheels.
It was my big mistake to bring just a few trench coats because outside of summer the temperature swiftly plummets really low. Only the second week of October, it was already below 5 degree Celsius (probably this was the effect from Typhoon Hagibis striking). I highly recommend that some extra warm clothes would definitely be a vigilant idea when visit Hokkaido outside of summer.
We were told that one of the most pleasant ways to enjoy the charm of Biei is by cycling through the hills. We bought it! We rented electrically powered bicycles from a local store in central Biei (close to Biei train station). However, the summer time had already left the island enen though it was still 4 p.m. the sun was ditching us. Despite the coldness we did have so much fun riding around Biei town towards Hokusei Hill Observatory just to catch up with the breathtaking sunset scenery. It was such unforgettable evening.
For dinner we relied on some online reviews leading us to visiting Kumagera restaurant in Furano. We were greeted with friendly services. Multi-language menu was available. We ordered various dishes including a mixed nabe which seems to be the highlight here. It originally contained deer, duck and chicken meat simmering with a handful of local vegetable. But we asked them not to include the deer meat because we didn,t want things to get wild. It was surprisingly excellent. The boiled chicken was very mellow in the fragrant broth. The duck meat was, on the other hand, a little stiff but it was redeemed with pieces of super savory Furano corn.
Where we stayed: 5 BR Parkside Chalet
After all the fun and pleasurable meals we had today, it’s time to check in at our accommodations. For the first two nights we opted to stay in Furano at 5 BR Parkside Chalet that we booked through the Airbnb. This luxurious 2 storey chalet came with everything you could ever ask for your perfect retreat. It is situated in the heart of Kitanomine Resort village close to Furano Ski Resort. The place was well equipped and beautifully furnished. There were 5 bedreooms, 2 showering bathrooms, 2 toilets, a game room full of board games and stuff, an open plan kitchen and a spacious living room. When you had such a big good company together in Furano, this place could be your fortress of solitude to soothe your soul after a long day of adventure.
Also, read stories form the rest of our trip in the following links:
- 5-DAY HOKKAIDO AUTUMN ROAD TRIP – PART II
- 5-DAY HOKKAIDO AUTUMN ROAD TRIP – PART III
- 5-DAY HOKKAIDO AUTUMN ROAD TRIP – PART IV
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