A short while after booking this trip to Hokkaido, Ethan and I realised that collectively we knew very little about the island but one thing that I did know about however was the seasonal Lavender Farm. I was quite surprised to discover that the usual blooming season would coincide with our trip and so our plan was to head off there straight away once we’d picked up the rental car in Chitose near the airport. However, the recent weather meant that this season was to be a late one!
We left Obihiro at about 9am and were pretty tired for some reason by the time we arrived in Furano; the nearest city to our destination. We had a nap in the car in the McDonald’s car park and ended up a short while after that at Lavender Park which was a fairly steep field with steps or a chair-lift taking you to the top.
In advance of this trip I had images in my mind that the lavender flowers would be as beautiful as previous flower-based trips to Fujishibzakura and Hitachi Seaside Park which were pretty special. Whilst parts of the area didn’t look too bad it was a bit disappointing and didn’t really live up to those trips as not all the flowers were quite in bloom.
We walked to the top of the hill which wasn’t so easy on the muscles on the back of the previous days Mount Meakan climb and the views of the whole area were more impressive than the flowers to be fair.
As we were leaving Lavender Park we realised that this was not even the main place we had intended to see! Instead, that was a bit further down the road at Farm Tomita and was way busier place with a big car park full of cars and tourist buses. The flowers in these fields were a bit more pleasing on the eye than the one that preceded it.
Farm Tomita was full of people and a real tourist trap with restaurants and souvenir shops galore including special lavender flavoured products such as milk, cheesecake, lemonade and ice-cream. The latter was really nice and we ate that as we walked on to our next destination which was very close by. 600 metres away to be precise!
Way back in April 2010 I embarked on a bicycle ride around Tokyo stopping at one station for each letter of the alphabet and during the research for this trip I found out that there was only one station in the whole of the Japan starting with the letter ‘L’. If you’re following me then you’ve probably worked out that that station is Lavender Farm (Batake) which is a seasonal station and one that I’ve wanted to visit since that discovery.
Of course the English translation is written with an ‘L’ but the Japanese way of writing it is actually with an ‘R’ (for there is no L in Japanese) as in Rabenda.
Sadly, we were unable to do any trainspotting as trains only pass through this temporary Furano line station four times a day with two going in each direction.
Very sad but I was very happy to have seen Japan’s only ‘L’ station though it was a shame we were restricted from going on to the makeshift platform where I’d like to have seen the station sign more clearly. As it was, it wasn’t the regular style of sign that all other JR stations have.
One sign that I did manage to stop and photo as we exited the Furano area was one of the many deer signs that line the roads around Hokkaido. There are also some fox ones and they will inevitably appear in a future Tokyo Fox blog entry.
You can read ‘Hokkaido 2015 Pt III: Mt Tarumae‘ here