Places

Underground again

Since I couldn’t see the sea cave on Monday I decided to compensate that by visiting a limestone cave. This one actually has a website with opening hours and other information so a fairly ‘save’ place to choose.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACar park at the cave

However I couldn’t find any information about public transport.
It’s only about 10km from Tōma station but I didn’t want to walk again especially since it was very humid and warm, as always. Thankfully a lovely shop assistant at the stations small grocery store gave me the number of a taxi company.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext to the cave entrance. The dragon seems to be the symbol of the town.

The cave is located outside of Tōma surrounded by fields, forests and mountains. A few hiking trails start there as well.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACascade at the rock garden near the cave

It’s an absolutely amazing and fairly large cave. Full of limestone of all shapes and sizes. What’s special about this cave is that a lot of them are unusually clear.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASurprise, it’s a cave, it’s dark, pictures turned out shit.

The paths are very narrow, maybe 50cm/20″ wide most of the time, and the ceiling gets really low in some places as well. There was an about 3m/9.8′ long passage where it was only 1.5m/4.9′ high (maybe, just guessing). And of course with a lot of tiny stalactites pointing down.
There were also some small ponds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was way more beautiful than the picture shows.

The only really annoying thing was that they apparently thought it was a good idea to play some informational audio really loudly throughout the cave without interruption. It was just the same stuff over and over again, not different information of different spots.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYes, that are coins

As I got back to the town I had to wait for two hours for the train so I went for a short walk but returned to the station because it was cooler. Temperature wise. And thus also metaphorically.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThat street led to some park

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Places

Nature stuff

31°C. 88°F. Perfect weather for hiking, right? But that didn’t keep from doing so. I went to Biei changing at Asahikawa which had a nice station.

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Isn’t it lovely?

From Biei I started walking to an area called ‘Panorama Road’. It’s fairly hilly and a lot of different crops are grown there, so the landscape looks really pretty.

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May or may not have been the road I walked on. I honestly don’t know.

Then I walked to the next station, Bibaushi. According to google maps that’s about 11km/6.8mi (Though not sure if that’s quite correct) Took me about three hours (including being lost a few times of course).

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Oh look, baby bread! (Or noodles, or grain tea, or something else)

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If someone could tell me what this is? Seemed like large carrot leaves… but I obviously don’t know stuff about plants.

There were quite a few bike rentals in Biei and other towns in that area. It would have been nice to rent one in one place and be able to return it in another. Since there isn’t really any room in the trains for bikes and it’s not really possible to get too far especially with the bike rentals closing around 7pm.

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Yes, I like traffic mirrors, problem?

Either way I enjoyed walking through nature with almost no cars passing by. Then I took the train to Nakafurano to see what Furano is famous for: Its flower fields and especially lavender. It was a short walk from the station to the lavender farm.

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There’s lavender everywhere.

Unfortunately most of the lavender wasn’t really blooming anymore. It was still beautiful since most fields consisted of different types of flowers, some even different types of lavender.

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lavender

It’s a very touristy place with gift shops taking up about as much space as the flowers themselves (maybe).

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A lot of the different fields were coordinated to be in full bloom in different seasons.

I didn’t spend that much time there though to not miss the only express train to Sapporo. Taking another one would have been perfectly possible, but obviously would have taken longer.

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More lavender

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Places

Lakes and mountains and sightseeing

Last weekend I went on a bus tour. It was an organized tourist tour with audio guide in four different languages to some fairly popular destinations. Fortunately it was rather chilly and -just like the rest of the last two or three weeks- cloudy, misty and rainy. So there weren’t many people apart from us. Unfortunately we only had about an hour at each stop and spend a lot of time in the bus and because of the weather we skipped the last stop (I think).

First stop was Lake Shikotsu.

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Lake Shikotsu is surrounded by mountains

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And lovely

Next we had a short break at a restaurant/shop full of mushrooms. Mushroom soup, fried mushrooms, mushrooms on rice, mushroom tea (not kidding) and more. They also had other stuff, but nothing’s interesting when there’s mushrooms ;)

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Didn’t take many pictures there, this is the best one I got

Then we went to Lake Tōya where it started to drizzle and it was completely quiet and beautiful. The fog made it look even bigger. We also had lunch there at an onzen hotel. It’s a volcanic area with a lot of hot springs so many people come there to enjoy them.

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Can I get anyone excited with bow ties?

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That boat was the only thing you could hear apart from the waves and the rain

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Don’t you dare telling me this isn’t good weather.

Last stop was Mount Usu where we took the ropeway on a plateau from which you could see Shōwa-shinzan which was formed by eruptions in 1944/1945. It looks very interesting, being a rocky red pile between all the green mountains. There is steam coming from the mountains, although you can’t really see much in the pictures because of all the fog/clouds.

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Oh look, wet air!

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Shōwa-shinzan

It was quite cool seeing all those places though I would have liked some more time to walk around.

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