Enjoy the essence of Hokkaido: Driving the Panorama and Patchwork Roads (+ the famous Blue Pond)
Set your GPS for the town of Biei, around 40 mins north of Furano, and lose yourself in some of the most gorgeous rural countryside in Japan.
A car, a taxi charter, or a good road bike are the best ways to enjoy this region; sightseeing buses also operate from both Furano and Biei Stations.
Plot your course to include the best local food destinations, farm attractions and photographic locations. Ask us for restaurant recommendations.
Biei is a small, charming town located around 32kms or 40 minutes drive north of Furano. A founding member of the "Association of Most Beautiful Villages in Japan", Biei is surrounded by gently rolling hills and a vast checkerboard of fields and meadows.
The names ‘Panorama Road’ and ‘Patchwork Road’ denote areas around Biei town, rather than specific roads. The Panorama Road is the scenic area located to the south of the town centre; the Pachwork Road is the scenic area located to the north-west.
The landscapes of the Panorama and Patchwork Road areas sit below the expansive Daisetsuzan National Park and mountain range, and provide stunningly beautiful and colourful views throughout spring, summer and autumn. In winter, the region is completely blanketed in snow, but it is still very much a photographer's dream to tour.
Among the highlights of the Panorama Road area is the ‘Shikisai no Oka’ flower farm, one of our region's most dramatic. Various flower varieties are featured throughout summer, including lavender. A stunning display of sunflowers blooms late in the season and just before the snows arrive. Another, smaller flower farm in this area is Kanno Farm.
Also worth a visit is the famous ‘Takushinkan’ photographic exhibition hall, with its display of beautiful landscape photography by renowned photographer Shinzo Maeda and his eldest son Akira. The ‘Shinseikan’ art gallery and museum featuring artworks and calligraphy by renown Japanese semi-abstract artist Kokuta Suda, and ceramics by Japan's designated "National Treasure" Tatsuzo Shimaoka should also be included in your itinerary in this same area. Be sure to view its beautiful alpine flower and rock garden, as well as its outlook to the mountains of Daisetsuzan from its elevated position. The traditional-style old wooden building that houses the gallery is also very interesting, having been shipped to the location piece-by-piece from Niigata Prefecture, western Honshu.
Highlights in the Patchwork Road area include several famous trees that have appeared in Japanese TV commercials and on product packaging. Amongst the most widely recognised is a row of larch trees on a hill now named ‘Mild Seven Hill’ (featured on a cigarette commercial). There is also a dual-trunk poplar tree named ‘Ken and Mary Tree’ (featured on a car commercial), the ‘Seven Star Tree’ (featured on cigarette packages) and a group of three oak trees known as the ‘Parents and Child Tree’.
Other sites of interest in the Patchwork Road area are the ‘Hokusei Hill Observatory’, a pyramid structure that offers nice views over the fields of Biei and the ‘Zerubu Hill’, a flower park. In recent years, the ‘Shirogane Blue Pond’ (of Apple screen-saver fame), located around 20 minutes drive from Biei, and the nearby blue ‘Shirahige Falls’, have become hugely popular tourist attractions, and should be included in a Biei region touring itinerary.
The Mt. Tokachi region is also a destination that can be added to a sightseeing itinerary in this region, with the famous Goto Sumio Museum a must see en route. Please see our separate blog post on this area for details.
Access to Biei and around the Biei Region is by car, taxi, bus, bike or train. Biei town is about 40 minutes drive or train ride from either Furano or Asahikawa.
Furano's main taxi operators, Furano Taxi, Chuo Taxi and FMT Taxi, all offer charter hire sightseeing programs. Fares may be arranged hourly, or by the half or full day.
Toyota Rent-a-Car operates from an office in Furano, just next to JR Furano Station. Hourly rates are offered (min 4 hours), as well as half day and day rates. Several car hire companies operate from Asahikawa Airport.
JR Trains run between Asahikawa, Furano and Biei. Timetables vary according to the season.
Bus services to Biei run every 1-2 hours and are provided by the ‘Lavender-go’ bus from Asahikawa, Asahikawa Airport or Furano. There is a bus stop for this service close to Furano Lofts.
Rental bikes, including electrically powered bikes, are available for hire by the hour, half-day or day, from multiple stores in Biei.
During summer, sightseeing buses operate from both Biei and Furano Stations.