Central Hokkaido in the summertime is often likened to the Italian countryside, in particular Tuscany. Having just been in Tuscany earlier this year, I can safely say that those comparisons fall a little short on the Japanese side. Biei Town, however, still thinks its landscape is something to immortalize, on manhole covers at least:
The area around Biei town in central Hokkaido IS visually interesting. The wind-swept fields with scraggly stand-alone trees do seem reminiscent of the land surrounding an Italian villa yet the peaks of the Daisetsuzan Park and the hillsides of lavender flowers do quite a good job of firmly reminding visitors they’re still on Japanese soil. There are numerous drives through the hills and valleys here, some signposted with notable scenes from Japanese television or advertising culture (ie Sevenstar tree made famous by cigarette packaging or the Ken and Mary tree that featured in a car commercial). Don’t feel you have to follow the crowds though – if you’re lucky enough to have your own set of wheels, simply grab a map from any of the local tourist offices and find your own back roads to explore.