Blue Pond and Shirahige falls
After late lunch we dropped by the blue pond again. As it was a calm and sunny day, reflections were almost perfect. While it was as crowded as in a large open market, we returned to our onsen resort in Naka-Furano soon afterwards.
Hokuryu Himawari (sunflower) festival
On the next morning, after checking out from the Nakafurano onsen resort, we drove to Hokuryu for its sunflower festival. On the way, we dropped by a small mount near Fukagawa where there was a Tottoro bus.
As the sunflowers were less than impressive (compared to our trip in Oct 2009 in Biei), we did not stay long and head back to Sapporo for lunch.
Mt Tokachi range from room
viewed from Kami-Furano
Tottoro bus in the wild
Hokuryu sunflower festival
Back in Sapporo
While this kaiten-sushi shop in JR Tower Sapporo is often crowded with long line, its shop in southern Sapporo has free parking. When we arrived it had plenty of vacant seats.
In the evening, we went for dinner in Mikuni – the French restaurant of JR Tower Hotel Nikko Sapporo.
Kaiten-sushi with parking
French dinner course using local produce
visited Tomita farm in the morning to avoid excessive crowds and for easier parking. The lavender and flower fields composed into a colourful palette, as on posters 🙂
This was the most beautiful farm and not to be missed in peak lavender season.
Not much lavender but colourful fields in stripes.
roll-kun at the entrance 🙂
Hinode-koen (Sunrise park)
The lavender was grown along the slopes of a small mount in Naka (middle) Furano. It’s a popular spot for wedding photos.
Lunch in Biei forest
a small hut inside the Biei forest serving Swiss style cuisine.
local pork cooked in Swiss style
Minami (southern) Furano
After checking out from Shikotsu-ko hotel, headed to Minami-Furano in about 2 hours.
First lavender field in this visit, with view of Kanayama-ko.
Arrived at Furano after lunch. Headed to Lavender East, operated by Tomita farm.
Drove slightly uphill to visit this farm again.
Mt Tokachi was shrouded
6th stay in onsen hotel. Extended fireworks after dinner.
dusk view from room
morning view from room
Dropped by Muroran – a seaport and coastal landscapes for the first time.
Arrived at Shikotsu-ko for 5th stay. Locals were having water sports along the Chitose stream and in the lake.
Picked a cosy onsen hotel on the lakeside with only 10 rooms. There are 2 rotenburo shared by the staying guests on a first-come-first-served basis. View from our room was serene with a green garden, lake and mountains beyond. The Italian dinner was very delicious and sourced from seasonal produce in Hokkaido.
lakeview from room
We rarely visit Japan in summer due to heat and humidity. However, the main goal of this trip is to visit lavender farms and other summer flowers in Biei/Furano, where we have stayed 5 or 6 times in Spring and Autumn before. This was also our 11th visit to Hokkaido, excluding 5 ski trips.
7-day Itin – Sapporo > Shakotan Peninsula > Toya-ko > Shikotsu-ko via Muroran > Biei/Furano > Sapporo. Rental car was picked up and returned in Sapporo.
checked in Sapporo hotel almost at 6pm and headed to local izakaya connected by underground walkway beneath the Sapporo station. This izakaya imports most seafood from Nemuro in the far eastern corner of Hokkaido, where Akeshi oysters and other shellfish are famous.
On next morning, picked up rental car and drove to Shakotan Peninsula, dropped by Otaru Shukutsu for a break.
Evening performance in underground walkway in Sapporo
from Otaru Shukutsu Observatory Deck
Second visit since 2008. Due to quite heavy road traffic (on Sat) from Otaru, we arrived after 12 noon and had to queue for parking space.
Queued up for the only restaurant in Shimamui-kaikan serving uni (sea-urchin) while in season. Due to local tourist groups ferried in by coaches, the queue was long and took almost 90 min before we were served. (When we visited in Oct 2008, uni was out of season and there were a few diners).
After lunch we descended down to the rocky beach in about 15-20min.
Nikka Yoichi Distillery
Dropped by this local whisky distillery in Yoichi while driving en route to Toya-ko onsen hotel.
Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse
The former warehouse was transformed into shops, cafes and restaurants on the harbourside.
Osanbashi cruise terminal
Strolled back to hotel in Sakuragicho via the World Porters and Canal Park at dusk.
Harbour view day and night from hotel room
This is the end of our sakura and spring flower trip in Honshu and Hokkaido in 25 days.
Stayed in Yokohama for last 2 nights before returning home.
Though its name is long, literally it means a park on mount where harbour can be seen. We last visited in late Oct 2010 when autumn roses were blooming. It was more brilliant this time with about 1600 bushes and other spring flowers in full bloom.
Yamashita Park (山下公園)
after lunch we visited this park on the harbourside, with 1900 bushes in full bloom.
After checkout from Hatake onsen, I drove uphill to Fuji Shibazakura Park via Asakiri Kogen in about 1 hour.
With drizzles and rain clouds Mt Fuji was completely shrouded as if it had disappeared.
As it was chilly cold and less impressive than similar parks in Hokkaido – despite being reported as full bloom on its website few days earlier, we strolled around for 40 min, drove back to Mishima for lunch, returned car and took Shinkansen to Yokohama.
Delicious Unagi-don in Mishima old shop filled with locals. We were much warmer after lunch. My Tokyo friend was very jealous of it.
On the way back to Hatake onsen on the previous day, we dropped by Mishima Taisha. Did not visit the museum as we were cold so rather dipped into onsen asap.
Took Tokaido Shinkansen to Mishima and pick up car to visit Nishi-Izu (West Izu).
Day 1. Coastline along Izu Toi to Izu Heda
Day 2. Numazu
Day 3. Visit Hakone Open-air Museum
Day 4. Visit Fuji Shibazakura Park
Sushi lunch in Izu Toi
dropped by famous local small sushi shop in Toi, which is famous for fresh fish caught in Suruga Bay. Nice and delicious sushi freshly prepared. Luckily we arrived earlier as late comers had to wait.
beach in Toi
Coastline along Izu Toi and Izu Heda
after lunch headed south towards Koibito-misaki (Cape of lovers) where Mt Fuji could be seen on clear days. Lucky to have Mt Fuji in blue sky as if it were floating on Suruga Bay. As rain clouds started to roll in we headed back north to Izu Heda. By the time we reached there an hour later Mt Fuji was barely visible.
Mt Fuji from Koibito-misaki
Mt Fuji barely visible in Izu Heda
Dinner in Izu-Heda onsen ryokan
Though this was our sixth stay in Izu onsen ryokan, it was our first taste of Takaashi-kani (Japanese spider crab) caught from the depths of Suruga Bay. Super delicious and highly recommended.
After checkout we abandoned plans for scenery in Nishi-Izu and headed north to seaside town of Numazu due to heavy rain for whole day. Stayed in Hatake onsen in Central Izu for 2 nights.
Numazu Deep Sea Aquarium
It has plenty of fish varieties and other sea creatures down to 300m+ below the Suruga Bay – one of the deepest sea troughs closest to Honshu.
Hakone Open-Air Museum
On next morning drove uphill to Hakone Gora for this outdoor museum. After the passage of cold front day temperature was down to around 10C with occasional drizzles up there. Spent about 3 hours, including an indoor Picasso museum with plenty of his works. Other sculptures include Henry Moore and French, Italian, Japanese artists.
entrance to kids playground
kids indoor playground