• The master brewer tastes the new sake from the tank that has been dug out of the snow

    Asahikawa-based Takasago Sake Brewery has dug out two types of snow-stored sake that had been ageing for approximately three months under the snow in the town of Biei in the Kamikawa region. The sa...

  • On February 27th, the ‘Biei Biruke-no-Mori Snow Cycle Festival’ was held for the first time in Shirogane in the town of Biei in northern Hokkaido, where participants competed in cycle races on a special course in the snow-covered forest. Fifty-four teams comprising 91 people from Asahikawa, Sapporo and other places in Hokkaido participated in the event, which involved competitors racing for two hours around a 1.3-km course in the forest near Shirogane Biruke, a roadside rest area in Biei.

  • On January 28, the Japan Geoparks Committee, a group made up of experts, recognized Mt. Tokachidake (the towns of Kamifurano and Biei in the Kamikawa subprefecture) as a ‘Japan Geopark,’ a natural park with valuable topography and geology. This is the 6th region in Hokkaido to have a geopark recognized within its boundaries. The review for re-certification, which is conducted once every four years, also reconsidered Mikasa (Mikasa city) and Tokachi Shikaoi (Shikaoi town, Tokachi subprefecture), which were both re-certified.

  • Having cycled extensively in the UK, France and the Netherlands, I was pleasantly surprised by the potential for cycling in Hokkaido, when the snow started melting after my first winter here, some thirty-odd years ago. However, it wasn’t long before I realised the real potential for cycling may actually be the winters themselves.

  • Test illumination was carried out on October 29 at the ‘Blue Pond,’ a tourist attraction in the town of Biei in the Kamikawa region of northern Hokkaido, where a light-up began on November 1. Tourists were treated to the sight of the blue water surface and withering trees mystically illuminated amid the darkness.

  • I headed home after a photo shoot in the foothills of Mt. Tokachidake. After taking a detour to the nearby Shirogane Hot Springs, while on the way to central Biei in the Kamikawa region, on a whim I took a left turn towards Kamifurano. As I was passing by Shirogane Dam, the scenery of a yellow-leaved forest lit by the afternoon sun caught my eye. Making sure not obstruct the traffic, I set up my tripod and took a few photos.

  • While traveling across a scree slope in search of pika rock rabbits halfway up Mt. Tokachidake, I encountered two chipmunks. Many mammals are highly independent and often live alone, except during the breeding and parenting seasons. Perhaps the two chipmunks were siblings that were born this year; as I moved closer, I could see them gazing at each other, their faces occasionally touching.

  • To escape the midsummer heat, I climbed up to the base of the approximately one thousand-meter tall Mt. Tokachidake. There, along the steep scree slope with small and large rocks piled atop each other, I heard a high pitched "Eeep! Eeep!" cry and saw the approximately 15 centimeter long body of a pika.

  • Five women living in the Northern Hokkaido town of Biei launched "Biei no Koto." (All About Biei), a magazine that reports on wonderful things about the town. The magazine catch phrase is, "We want to connect people, things, and times through love!" It covers items of interest in the town such as the summer tradition "Nachi Biei Fire Festival" as well as people involved in the key area industries of agriculture and forestry and the over one hundred bridges in the town.

  • The Shirogane "Blue Pond" in northern Hokkaido's Biei Town. This is a popular sightseeing spot where the water surface glimmers blue from the reflecting of light by water that contains aluminum. Every year since 2014, an executive committee made up of constituents including the local town government has been beautifully illuminating the area at night for tourists who visit in the winter, when the blue pond surface freezes and is covered in snow.