Dynasty Travel: 8D6N Colourful Hokkaido Tour, Day 5 (Part 1)

Sunday, 7 February 2016

It's the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year! To all my readers (if any) who celebrate the festival, I hope the Year of the Monkey would be a blessed one for you!

And now that the greeting is out of the way, my sincere apologies for the long absence. I have to admit, this blog doesn't take as much precedence as my other blog. Yeah, the nail one. One where the post is often short and doesn't require as much writing.
Ok, ok, I can be lazy but hey, I'm back! And to help myself out, I may consider breaking up the travel posts even more (yeah, like parts 1, 2, 3 and maybe even 4) but at least that's going to make it more manageable (well, hopefully) and I'll try my best to keep it going! Especially since I'm already planning for another trip, so I (really) should at least get my ass moving on finishing this one!
Day 5's itinerary of the Hokkaido group tour looked like this:
Kitanomori Ice Pavilion --> Furano Tomita Farm (ファーム富田) --> Furano Winery --> Furano Cheese Factory

First stop of the day - the Kitanomori Ice Pavilion. For some strange reason, the building reminded me of the old Snow City in Singapore. Anyway, I didn't bring my camera in. Yeah, I was being paranoid especially since I've seen people post pictures of the insides of the place and all. But I really didn't want to risk getting the camera spoilt since that had happened to me once before. I swear, an old camera fogged and grew mould from condensation after a trip to a similar place before. Hence, this was about the only picture (well, minus those of my parents) I took of the place.

Anyway, if you're near the attraction, then it's well worth an hour to stop by, especially if you have kids with you. The kids will probably have a blast of a time and it's pretty educational as well.

Even before we entered, we were introduced to the "change colour experiment". Basically you were given a slip of paper with a cartoon character to colour in with magic pens. Heh. Those magic pens really brought back memories of my childhood. Anyway, back to the colour experiment. Once you're done with your colouring, the staff will bring you through the magic of how extreme temperatures will change the colours of your cartoon.

And that was just one of the few experiments you'll experience in this place. Like I mentioned earlier, this place is great for the kids - educational fun. There were other fun experiments too, like how you could use a piece of frozen banana to hammer a nail! Next time I don't have a hammer, I'll know what to do. Well. Provided I have a frozen banana handy.

Since, this is an ice pavilion, naturally the temperatures are low - like freezing. However, you don't have to worry about lugging winter wear just for an attraction. Thick winter gear were provided, and they even have helpful staff who would be able to advise you on the best size and fit.


Once inside, you'll be walking through some ice tunnels, pass some ice sculptures and of course the requisite icicles. The main draw though for me was the -41 degrees room. Apparently, the coldest temperature recorded in Hokkaido winter was at a freezing -41 degree Celsius. So they built a room where visitors could experience for themselves how -41 degrees would feel like! How cool is that! (All pun intended).
You'd realise that most of these attractions would have a café or souvenir shop strategically placed. The Kitanomori Ice Pavilion was no exception. Once you finished having your fun on ice, you'd exit into a cozy café-cum-shop where you'll be given (free) biscuits and a cup of hot tea. I have to say, the hot tea was a nice welcome after the cold we went through.
Once we were done with the Kitanomori Ice Pavilion, our tour guide immediately hurried us to our lunch venue. I have to say, this is where an experienced  guide really counted. Although we had a slightly earlier lunch, we definitely beat a terrifying lunch crowd. Lunch was a semi-buffet affair, and OMG! The hungry horde that descended after almost all my tour group sat down with their first round of picks was like a pack of vultures. And when we left the place, there were still more tour buses coming in. Manoeuvring and parking looked almost like some really skilled chess play.

Anyway, the lunch place also had a shop attached. I picked up some of these bottles of moisturising cream that were supposed to be really good. Since I do have a preference for Japanese skin care, I bought some home to try! Unfortunately, I still have not finished with my Hada Labo yet. These are still sitting around so I can't give you the verdict yet.

The picture above should give you a clue as to where our next destination was.
That's it! The lavender farm! Specially the famed Furano Tomita Farm! And the very reason why my parents and I (well, mostly me really) braved a sweltering Japan summer to travel. Lavender season is in July and right smack in the middle of their summer. In fact, the day we visited Tomita Farm was a sweltering 31 degrees! That's Singapore on a good day! So if you intend to catch lavender season in its best, please remember to dress appropriately, bring a brolly, put on some sun screen and drink loads of water!

The Tomita Farm is pretty famous and hordes (yes, again) descend during blooming season. If you've seen pictures of a rainbow flowering field when looking for Hokkaido images, that's likely Tomita Farm at its prime. Rows and rows of purple, pink, red, orange, yellow. So pretty! And all that against an amazing backdrop of majestic snow-capped mountains!
If you're a plant-lover, flora-lover, you really cannot miss this if you are in Hokkaido. However, please do check blooming periods/seasons. I understand that if you visit post-blooms, it can look very sad and pitiful.
Yes. I have a gazillion pictures of the lavender fields. Be glad that I restrained myself and didn't flood the post with those gazillion photos. But really, the fields of purple are a sight to behold. Plus, you feel like you're standing in an aromatherapy store - the scent of fresh lavender in the air was just so relaxing! Flying bees didn't even faze me, when I usually would have run screaming in the opposite direction.
The Tomita Farm also boasts of a glasshouse - where the flowers would bloom regardless of season. However, once you've seen the rainbow fields, the glasshouse feels like a mediocre distraction. And if you happen to step into the Dried Flower House before the glasshouse, the glasshouse is going to pale even more in comparison.

These were really the most awesome dried flower arrangements I have seen. Towers and bridges, pots and vases of colourful combinations. I was pointing my camera in all directions. Great photo opportunities abound in here! You shouldn't miss this if you visit Tomita Farm!
Another highlight when visiting Tomita Farm - the shops and cafes. We got to try Furano melons as well. Between the Yubari melons and the Furano melons, my parents and I agreed that we preferred the Yubari melons. While I found the Furano melons crunchier and slightly sweeter than the Yubari ones, the Yubari melons were juicer and would leave a lovely lingering melon aftertaste.

What you really HAVE TO try though, is the lavender soft serve. It's pretty famous and you can spot many holding a cone or cup of the lavender soft serve. My dad got a cone while the vanity in me chose at this time to pop its head. The cone meant added calories and I went with a cup instead. Whichever, dad and I agreed it was a welcome respite from the heat.
For those of you who haven't yet tasted lavender ice cream - It feels like you're eating clouds of lavender perfume. I know that sounds like something out of Enid Blyton or a fairy-tale, but serious, that's really the best way I can think of describing it.

There are loads of other lavender stuff you can get at Tomita Farm. With lavender, its a given that scents, soaps and potpourri were aplenty. My mom bought several bottles of lavender scented beads for the home. I also bought some lavender sachets as gifts and a bottle of lavender-lemonade ramune for a friend. Regretting not getting one for myself now.
Tourist Information:
Kitanomori Ice Pavilion
Website: http://icepavilion.com/
Address: Sakaemati, Kamikawa-chou, Kamikawa-gun, 078-1733
Local Address: 北海道アイスパビリオン, 〒078-1733, 北海道上川郡上川町栄町40番地
DID: 01658-2-2233
Operating hours: 8:30 am to 5:30 pm (last entry at 5 pm)
Entrance fee: 1,808 yen for adults, 650 yen for students and 200 yen for kids (3 years and above)

Tomita Farm
Website: http://www.farm-tomita.co.jp/
Address: Kisen Kita, 15 Go, Sorachi-gun, Nakafurano-cho 071-0704
Local Address: 〒071-0704基線北15号
DID: +81 167-39-3939
Operating hours: Shops typically open from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, with shorter hours outside of summer season.
No closing days, although some shops close from November to April
Entrance Fee: Free entry to all

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