Every once in a while, I like to paint. I’m terrible at it but I find it very relaxing. It’s not always easy because the materials and the equipment can be complicated to carry around but a little dedication goes a long way. In Japan, painting can be tricky because it often means going to a traditional area and paint houses, roofs or colorful temples. Those are way too complicated for me so I tend to gravitate towards more natural areas.
When it comes to nature, my favorite area in Japan is Hokkaido and I can’t think of a better place for painting than Shikisai no Oka (四季彩の丘), the panoramic flower garden tucked in between Mount Tokashi and the plains of Takikawa. This is one of the most beautiful areas on the island with rows of colorful flowers spread out on fifteen hectares. The burgundies of lavender mix in perfectly with the yellows of sunflowers.
I visited many flower fields around the work from the red fields of Netherlands to the lavender of France but the combination of diversity and hills in Hokkaido make Shikisai no Oka very special.
One of the reasons why I keep on going is because the planting arrangement is different from one year to the other. The incredibly talented group of farmers in charge of the area is dedicated to offer a different visual feast from one year to the next. They also provide tractor mini tours by attaching a couple of wagons to a tractor and drive around the fields. Be aware that at the peak of summer, the flower park is packed with tourists, creating long queues for the tractor tours. I personally prefer to go just before or just after the summer season. The peace that comes with the last days of summer is a bliss.
You may think that once the cold winds of the northern Japanese Island start running through the fields the area becomes bare and empty. Don’t be fooled by the silence of the white plains of winter as the locals take advantage of the hills shaped landscape and get the snowmobiles out for some fun. You can jump on and ride through vast areas of snow covered lands. It surprised me at first because the only place I could match the idea of snowmobile and landscape was in Alaska or northern Scandinavian countries. As soon as I came across the snowmobiles in Hokkaido, I rented one and couldn’t quite get off of it.
That was a hell of a fun ride.
Summer or winter, this area is a must see in Hokkaido. I visit it as often as I can and although my painting skills are not getting any better, looking at the canvas of flowers is a wonder in itself. The colors are fantastic and the entire area is dedicated to beauty. A little trick for those who, like me, prefer to avoid crowds, come in as early as 9:00 am and you will get the fields just for yourself.
As for winter fun, I love my snowmobile rides and I have no doubt that you will love them too. This spectacular garden is a must-visit spot when in Hokkaido.
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Shikisai no Oka
Address: No.3 Aza Shinsei, Biei-cho, Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido
25 minute walk from Bibaushi Station
12 minute car/taxi ride from Biei Station
9:00 AM – 5:00PM (April, May, October)
8:30 AM – 6:00PM (June-September)
9:00 AM – 4:30PM (November)
9:00 AM – 4:00PM (December- February)
9:00 AM – 4:30PM (March)
Website: Shikisai no Oka