Travel Diary: Kamui Kotan (神居古潭), Asahikawa, Hokkaido, Japan (Gallery)

Kamuikotan (神居古潭) literally means God-village in the native Ainu language and is situated by the Ishikari River, about a half-hour drive out from the city of Asahikawa. We made a stop at Kamuikotan with a slight detour to the west en route to Furano, via Takikawa. It’s a short stop which you can cover in about 15 to 20 minutes.

The lush foliage changes with the seasons – with cherry blossoms in early May, to auburn in the fall. Being central to Ainu folklore, the first thing you’d notice is the mystic calm about this place – the quietness is touched by the sound of the rushing the river below, quick and yet surprisingly serene. Crossing the bridge to the other side of the river, you’d ascend short flights of steps to find the old kamuikotan station as well as a locomotive reminiscent of a time past.
Kamuikotan Hokkaido Japan Asahikawa Travel Diary Tourism

Kamuikotan Hokkaido Japan Asahikawa Travel Diary Tourism Sights Kamuikotan Hokkaido Japan Asahikawa Travel Diary Tourism Sights

Travel Diary: Shiretoko Goko-lakes (知床五湖) , Shiretoko National Park, Hokkaido, Japan

I opened the door and stepped out into the heat. Leaving my coat in the car, I started towards the beginning of the trail marked by a large standing wooden sign. The Shiretoko Goko-lakes (知床五湖), also known as the five lakes, are a collection of lakes which were formed when the area of Mt. Iwo blew and left dents on the land which filled with water; the first of which could be reached by an elevated wooden path and viewing decks, but the remaining four being only accessible by foot and with a guide.

The elevated wooden walkway was a work of Japanese genius – it left the scene virtually untouched, with visitors looking out from observation decks while ezo sika (Sika deer) graze peacefully below, their short little tails twitching time to time to address the tickle of the occasional summer fly. Little pools of water irrigated the landscape, funnelled underground from the Shiretoko mountain range which lined the horizon, still visibly snowcapped from the winter.

Shiretoko goko five lakes hokkaido japanZabrina Alexis C at Shiretoko Go-ko Five Lakes Hokkaido Japan Travel

Shiretoko go-ko five lakes hokkaido travelSailing on the sea of Okhotsk Shiretoko Peninsula Travel Hokkaido

Travel Diary: Farm Tomita, Furano, Hokkaido, Japan

Furano, a city to the south of the Kamikawa Subprefecture and rather central in the landmass that is Hokkaido, is a paradise of natural produce. Furano was our stop after Asahikawa and before Sapporo, and I was absolutely thrilled by the prospect of all the farms we would get to visit and the photographs I’d seen. The lavender fields would only be ready in July, but in June, we had melons, strawberries, and other delicious fruits.

It was back at the start of June 2014, a few weeks into the Hokkaido Spring, and the fields were already full of colour. For some of the later blooming flowers, the buds were transitioning into blossoms as the heat was coming on, although we could still cool down quickly by hiding out in the shade because the humidity had not risen too much yet.

Poppies in Furano

I remember trodding up the sandy path leading farther into Farm Tomita. That turned quickly into a half-run once I saw the bold dabs of colour at the end of the field. The poppies were in full bloom, spotting the lush green field with its starburst centre surrounded by its bright white or red chiffon-like petals like skirts in the wind. There are a few greenhouses near the edge of the farm as well, which houses an assortment of flowers in rows on rows. Looking out from the inside of the greenhouse, beyond the flowers potted in the window sill and to the field beyond, I tried my best to capture the beautiful scene and lock it in my memory for a future revisit.

Flowers at Farm Tomita Greenhouse

Flowers at Farm Tomita

Although the lavender was not in season, Farm Tomita was selling its famous lavender ice-cream anyway. I thought it tasted absolutely amazing and it was the prettiest shade of… well, lavender. I’ve tried lavender ice-cream on several occasions and came away with an expanded awareness of the range of taste – from soapy to powdery. But this… was a different matter altogether.

Lavender Ice Cream

It was like eating perfume. I know how that sounds, but trust me, it was great. You have to try it if you ever go that way. There was a certain sweet creaminess in the ice-cream and as I ate it, felt like I was inhaling a lavender perfume. I would describe it as “tasting the scent”, if that makes any sense at all.

I sat together with my family in the shade of an umbrella, colored in the same pine green shade that colors all of Farm Tomita’s signs, thoroughly enjoying the ice-cream while watching children run around in the sun, trying to avoid having their melting lavender ice-cream drip on their toes.