Transportation around Biei 美瑛町 Furano 富良野

By Cubie - November 15, 2012

Biei 美瑛町 Biei-cho is located in Kamikawa (Ishikari) District, Hokkaido. It is surrounded by a picturesque landscape of gently rolling hills and vast fields. In fact,  it is known as the town of beautiful hills. That being said, the easiest way to get around is by driving. Or, if you have good stamina, in combination with good weather, it would be a pleasant bicycle ride.

When I first saw this map on the approximate time to get to the beautiful landscape in Biei, I thought to myself, "Hey, this is great!" Anyway, I am merely posting the map up, as we had to let go part of our itinerary in going to the Patchwork Road Course, Panorama Course and parts of Bibaushi Area due to lack of personal means of transportation.

The peak time to visit these area of Hokkaido is most probably summer and by summer I really mean the period before June to July.

Two main reasons why you should go in summer are:
(i)  Lavender's blooming time is in July and sunflower in August.
(ii) Furano Biei Norokko train for summer really ends by 31st August.
Lavender Batake station is open for this train only and this station is only 7 minutes away from Tomita Farm, the most popular lavender field in Furano.
(from this cool site on Japan rail :p)

I know summer doesn't just switch off to become autumn as soon as the calendar turns 1st September but if you are after lavender, then best to travel in July. Of course, there's also Furano Koyo Express during autumn but this is infrequent and the stopping stations are different from the Furano Biei Norroko train.

If you have read my previous post, we had to abandon the driving due to unforeseen circumstances, and yes, I can drive though can drive and drive well are totally different story. Anyway, we were left with the other option - read: cycling. My mom can't cycle and no, I am not capable to take her on a bicycle, not even sure I am capable of cycling up and down those hills myself. So, we opted for a tour with JR Twinkle Bus. A word of warning, this tour was conducted in Japanese in full.

Ok, let's go back to train. There was also a scenic train for autumn - Aki no Minami Furano Norokko train. If time permits, I would've love to take a ride on the norokko. Norokko (ノロッコ) is a combination word of “Noroi” (のろい) and “Torokko” (トロッコ) in Japanese. Noroi means very slow. Torokko means a mine cart originally but of late, it also means an observation car. It is not a luxury train, the seats are only wood bench seats but it is an open air train so you can enjoy the beautiful scenery and fresh air.

We joined a JR Twinkle Bus tour so our time were tight, so no norokko train for us :(
Oh well, it means there's more reason for next trip! I, however did saw the train passed by. We took a train towards Furano from Biei at 4.01pm, at the same time the Norokko train departed from Biei towards Asahikawa. Shame I was in the train and missed the opportunity to take a photo. Sux. Here's a link to Japan Rail Pass website which shows a picture of the train :)

Just a random photo on the way walking to Biei train station

On the way to the town of beautiful hills :)

Side note: Must finish that spreadsheet before Monday...

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