Asahikawa: Experience The Best of Summer in Hokkaido

Summer in Hokkaido has a lot to offer. The prefecture’s gentle summer climate is perfect for flowers; tourists flock to the colorful displays. Outdoor enthusiasts can’t get enough of Hokkaido’s national parks. They love the active volcanoes and gorgeous lakes.  This article focuses on summer attractions you can easily reach from Asahikawa. We suggest using Asahikawa as your base in Hokkaido to save time and keep transportation costs down.

Asahikawa is a great base for day trips to the flower fields of Furano and Biei. In these delightful towns, flower fields create unforgettable scenes of beauty.  It’s also easy traveling distance from Daisetsuzan National Park. The park is Japan’s largest national park and features the famous Asahidake Onsen.

There are all sorts of fun activities near Asahikawa, from hiking to cycling to relaxing in one of Hokkaido’s many onsen. Make Asahikawa your base and explore the best of the Hokkaido summer.

 

What You Can Do Near Asahikawa

Lavender Fields Forever: Flower Viewing in Biei and Furano

Furano Farm Tomita

Farm Tomita in Furano

The small towns of Biei and Furano boast the most colorful summer scenery in Japan.

The towns sit in Hokkaido’s center. Furano is known as “The Bellybutton of Hokkaido” for this reason.

The summer flowers attract ten times as many visitors as the winter ski fields. You’ll understand why when you see the place… the bright flowers resemble a colorful quilt thrown over the hills surrounding the towns.

Lavender

Furano Lavender East Field

Farm Tomita Lavender East Field

Lavender is the main attraction. It blooms in early July and the season continues into mid to late August.

There are four distinct types of lavender cultivated in Furano. They range from violet to dramatic royal purple. There are also poppies, salvia, scarlet sage, marigold, lilies, and sunflowers.

Let’s visit a few of the farms where you can see lavender and the other flowers in full bloom.

 

Farm TomitaFarm Tomita in Furano

Farm Tomita (Located in Naka-Furano) started growing lavender in 1958. Today, it’s widely considered the best place to see lavender in Hokkaido.

The farm has more than a dozen flower fields. My favorite was Irodori Field, planted in a rainbow design. The traditional lavender garden is beautiful as well. Also, check out the greenhouse where you can see lavender all year long.

Furano Farm Tomita Shop

Farm Tomita Shop –
Vassamon Anansukkasem / Shutterstock.com

Tomita has a museum, a gift shop, and restaurants. The cafes serve the farm’s produce — including lavender flavored soft-serve ice-cream.

Farm Tomita Lavender Soft Ice Cream

Farm Tomita Lavender Soft Ice Cream

 

Hours

The farm itself and parking lot is technically open 24hours, but certain fields and shops have their own hours of operation.

Keep in mind that most of the cafes and houses only open for a short time each year, with most being closed from around October/November through April/May.

Lavander East Field – July Only: 9:00am – 4:30pm

 

Cafes Hours

Farm Tomita Cafe Hours Page

 

Farm Tomita Houses Hours

Farm Tomita Houses Page

 

Admission

Free

 

Kanno Farm

Furano Kanno Farm

tipwam / Shutterstock.com

Kanno Farm (Located in Kami -Furano) is known for its variety of colorful flowers. They include lavender, salvia, poppies, marigolds, and blue and red varieties of sage.

It takes a little over a half an hour to view the farm. You’ll love the view from the hill at the top of the farm. You can take in the flower fields and the surrounding Tokachi mountain range.

Furano Kanno Farm Flowers

Hours

  • June – October: 9:00am-Sunset
  • Closed to visitors outside these months

Admission

Free

 

For More Information

Furano Tourism Association – Kanno Farm Page

Kanno Farm Homepage (Japanese Only)

 

Shikisai No Oka

Shikisai no Oka Farm

Shikisai no Oka Farm

Shikisai No Oka (Located in Biei) is the largest and best-recommended flower farm in Biei.

The season is longer on this farm. The 15 hectares of fields bloom from April to mid-October. The flowers include tulips, dahlias, and sunflowers, in addition to lavender and salvia.

 

Near Asahikawa Shikisai no Oka

littlewormy / Shutterstock.com

There are a variety of ways to get around the farm. You can rent a cycle or golf buggy, or take a ride on the farm’s tractor bus.

In winter, you can rent snowmobiles and rafts to enjoy the snow-covered hills.

Hours

  • April-May/October: 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • June-September: 8:30am – 6:00pm
  • November/March: 9:00am – :30pm
  • December-February: 9:00am – 4:00pm

 

Admission

Technically free, but a 200 yen donation is requested to cover maintenance costs.

 

For More Information

Shikisai-no-Oka Homepage

 

Getting Around the Area

There are many other flower farms near Biei and Furano. Finding a way to get to them can be challenging. Here are some helpful options.

 

Buses

The Biei View Buses runs from May 3rd- October 9th, with several routes focusing on Biei’s attractions.

 

Our Suggestion

Biei Blue Pond

Biei Blue Pond

The Flower Garden/Blue Pond Bus gives you a tour of some of the flower farms. You also visit Biei’s blue pond, a man-made water feature created to protect Biei from volcanic mudflows. The water’s striking blue color was an unforeseen consequence.

Bus tickets cost 2,500 yen for an adult and 1,000 yen for a child (aged 6 – 12). There are three departures daily, and the trip takes two hours and fifty-five minutes.

You can buy tickets the day before you go from the Biei Tourist Information center, next to Biei Station. You can also buy tickets two days in advance from the JR Information Desk at JR Sapporo Station, or from the JR info desk at JR New Chitose Airport Station.

Please note that you need to buy tickets ahead of time. The bus doesn’t allow anyone aboard withk tickets, even if there are seats available.

 

For More Information

Biei View Bus Schedule

Biei Information PDF

 

CyclingAsahikawa Biei Bike Cycling

You can rent a cycle to explore the roads around Biei and Furano. They’re considered among Japan’s most beautiful roads.

An 80km cycling road links the two towns. This is a great place to bike; the area has clear signs and lots of cycle rental shops.

 

For More Information

Furano – Biei Cycle Tourism Page

For Guided Cycling Tours

Biei Cycling Tours Homepage

 

Daisetsuzan National ParkDaisetsuzan Natural Park Snow

When you’ve had your fill of flowers, take in the scenery of a different kind at Daisetsuzan National Park.

Daisetsuzan means “Great Snowy Mountains.” You can see snow even in the summer season (July – August), but most people will be amazed by the alpine flowers.

Many of these are found only in Daisetsuzan National Park. Mt. Asahidake is the tallest mountain in Hokkaido and the best place to see the flowers.

Mount Asahidake

Mount Asahidake

 

The RopewayAsahidake Ropeway Cable Car

I suggest you take the Asahidake Ropeway halfway up the mountain to the Sugatami Plateau. Enjoy the trails and take in the flowers, ponds, and fumaroles.

Fumaroles are openings where volcanic steam clouds come out. Asahidake is an active volcano.

 

HikingAsahidake Hiking Trail

Serious hikers will love the Asahidake Trailhead.

It’s the start of a 55km hike linking Asahidake with Tokachidake. The hike takes 5-7 days, with hikers able to break their hike at huts along the trail. There are a variety of less intense hikes as well.

 

Be Safe!

If you go hiking, take the usual precautions. File a travel plan with the park authorities, boil water before you drink it, and carry a bear bell. Dispose of your trash carefully — especially food wrappings. Secure your food to make sure you don’t attract bears.

 

Asahidake Onsen

Asahidake Onsen is a tiny village with a handful of hotels and a youth hostel — and, of course, the onsen. There are six hotels that open their baths to visitors.

You’re probably wondering “Who wants to sit in a hot bath in summer?” Let me tell you… after a long, hard hike, it feels fantastic to relax and wash your weariness away.

You won’t want to linger in the bath, but once you get out, you’ll feel much cooler by comparison. Try it!

If you’re already a summer onsen convert, consider making the trip to Kurodake Sounkyo Onsen. There’s a greater variety of baths there.

 

Getting to Asahidake Onsen

Buses run from Asahikawa Station to Asahidake-Onsen. The trip takes a little over two hours and costs 1,430 yen.

To get the most out of your trip to Asahidake, aim for the 10:10am bus. The Ropeway is within the Asahidake Village.

 

Ropeway Hours

  • Summer 6:00am – 6:00pm
  • Winter 9:00am – 4:00pm
  • Departures every 15 – 20 minutes

 

Ropeway Admission

  • Adults Roundtrip (Regular/*Peak Season): 1,800/2,900 yen
  • Children (elementary school): 900/1,450 yen

*Regular season is October 21st – May 31st, and the peak season is June 1st – October 20th.

 

For More Information

Daisetsuzan Asahidake Ropeway Page

 

Asahikawa Ramen Village

Asahikawa Ramen

Asahikawa Ramen

The Ramen Village sits on the outskirts of Asahikawa. Although it’s not a village, there is ramen — lots of it!

Asahikawa is famous for miso-broth based ramen. The thin noodles are tougher than the typical ramen noodle.

You can find ramen shops throughout Asahikawa. The Ramen Village showcases the city’s eight most popular ramen stores. There’s a gift shop and ramen shrine attached.

 

Hours

  • 11:00am – 8:00pm
  • Closed January 1st
  • Some restaurants close on certain days throughout the year

 

Admission

Free — but you’ll probably want to buy some ramen, about 800 yen a bowl.

 

Is Asahikawa Worth Visiting?Asahikawa City

It Depends

Can you afford the visit, and do you have the time? You’ll spend a lot of time and money to get to Asahikawa.

I recommend Asahikawa as part of a longer trip to Hokkaido. Devote 2 – 3 days to the Asahikawa area. Rent a car if you can. It makes things much easier!

If you don’t rent a car: look up train and bus times in advance to make sure that you don’t wind up spending hours waiting.

 

Getting to Asahikawa

There are several ways to travel to Asahikawa.

 

By AirTraveling by Air

Asahikawa Airport has domestic flights to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, Osaka’s Itami Airport, and Nagoya Airport. International flights go to Incheon, Shanghai, and Taipei.

The domestic airlines serving Asahikawa Airport include Japan Airlines, Air Do, and ANA (All Nippon Airways). Prices depend on seasonal demand, time of day, and type of seat.

As a baseline, a round trip between Haneda and Asahikawa on a Japan Airlines economy flight can cost anywhere from 18,280 yen to 83,780 yen. You really save when you plan ahead! The flight takes about an hour and forty minutes.

Asahikawa Airport is a 30 to 40-minute bus ride from Asahikawa Station (620 yen). It’s a 30-minute taxi ride (around 4,100 yen). Travelers with International Drivers Licenses can rent cars at the airport.

 

By Train

Asahikawa Station

Asahikawa Station

Asahikawa Station links to Sapporo, Otaru, and Hakodate on the JR Hakodate Main Line.

The Super Limited Express from Sapporo reaches Asahikawa in just 85 minutes. It costs 4,810 yen. Local trains are sparse, and while cheaper (around half the price), take between 3 to 5 hours to make the same journey.

 

From Tokyo to Asahikawa by Train

The trip takes around 10 hours and costs around 30,000 yen.

From Tokyo Station, take the Hayabusa Shinkansen to Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto. Transfer to the Limited Express Hokuto for Sapporo. At Sapporo, transfer to the Super Limited Express for Asahikawa.

 

By Bus

Bus at Asahikawa Station

Bus at Asahikawa Station – twoKim images / Shutterstock.com

The Asahikawa Express Bus Line runs from Sapporo Station to Asahikawa. Buses run every 30 minutes. The trip takes 2 hours and is 2,060 yen one-way, 3,860 yen round-trip.

 

Getting Around

The cost of transportation will be one of your biggest expenses in Hokkaido. This is just as true once you’ve reached Asahikawa.

 

Renting a CarDriving in Biei Rental Car

If you’re traveling in a group, consider renting a car.

The roads around Biei and Furano are some of Japan’s most scenic. Driving is usually faster than relying on the sporadic trains, despite the 60km (37mph) per hour speed limits.

 

Plan Ahead

If you travel by train or other public transportation, check the schedule in advance. Due to the lower population compared to the rest of Japan, Hokkaido’s trains are less frequent. This leads to long waits if you’re unlucky enough to miss your train.

 

For More Information

Hyperdia.com – Website to Check Train Schedules

 

Insider’s Tip

Pack for a wide variety of weather situations — especially if you plan on hiking! Every year, many hikers underestimate the weather in Daisetsuzan National Park. They find themselves in trouble.

 

Have You Been to Asahikawa in Summer?

Did you see the flowers or the Great Snowy Mountains? Would you like to? Did anything in this article make your must-visit list? Let us know in the comments.

As I mentioned before, the flower fields get 10 times the visitors the ski slopes get. There’s a good reason why. Share this article with your flower or nature loving friends. Get a group together, and then come and discover the area for yourself. You can thank me later!

 

Image Credits:

kudoh/123rf.com

Greanggrai Hommalai/123rf.com

Worapat Maitriwong/123rf.com

PaylessImages/123rf.com

Law Alan/123rf.com

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