On the train between Furano and Asahikawa, I couldn’t resist stopping in the tiny, pretty town of Biei. I only had time to visit for a couple of hours, but it’s so lovely that I wanted to mention it here to encourage others to visit.
Like Furano, Biei is a beautiful countryside town, surrounded by patchwork fields that I’m sure look stunning when the spring properly arrives. It’d probably be best explored if you have a car, but I found that the convenience store across the road from the station rented bikes, and they were also kind enough to look after my backpack for a few hours while I took off into the countryside.
The bike rental shop has a local map, pointing out some of the local landmarks (one is the so-called “Mild Seven Hill” – as pictured on cigarette advertising, no less), but I just took a bumble around to see what I could see. Outside the town, I found the tiny cafe pictured above. It’s called 三愛の丘茶屋カーブ , and sells coffee, ice cream, and other bits and pieces – there’s room for about ten people, perhaps – details here.
Further out of town there’s an onsen area (Shirogane onsen), but you’d need a car to reach that. If you have motor transport, I’d imagine you could pleasantly pass a day in and around Biei. If you don’t, it’s a pleasant diversion for a few hours on a bike.