Hokkaido Lavender Guide
The Blooming Season of Furano’s Purple Sea
Hokkaido’s lavender season turns the unspoiled green nature paradise into a purple sea of flowers. The blooming season is one of the best times to visit Japan’s northernmost prefecture. And Furano is the best place to see the vivid lavender fields.
In this detailed guide, you’ll find all you need to know about Hokkaido’s lavender fields and season: When to go, where to go, plus a bunch of travel tips.
Top Things to See in Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan
Hokkaido’s lavender season is all about flower viewing and eating lavender ice cream. You can also try different lavender experiences and watch a lavender firework.
The cultivation of lavender in Hokkaido started in 1940. But after reaching its peak in 1970 the fields were on the verge of extinction.
Tadao Tomita, a farmer, had an idea and turned his lavender fields in Furano into a sightseeing spot.
Now his farm – Farm Tomita – and Furano’s lavender fields have become Hokkaido’s top summer attraction.
Hokkaido’s lavender usually starts blooming at the end of June. And the season continues until the harvest of the lavender in early August.
In July the lavender season reaches its peak. During the latter half of the month, most of the lavender varieties are in full bloom. So this is the best time to view them.
When we talk about Hokkaido’s lavender we actually mean Furano’s lavender. Because most of Hokkaido’s lavender fields are located in the region around Furano city.
Furano is near Asahikawa and about 100 km west of Sapporo.
Biei is another city that is quite famous for its lavender. It is located in the same region, though. And it is just 40 minutes further north of Furano.
Highlights of Hokkaido’s lavender season
- A blooming sea of lavender and other flowers
- Lavender flavored ice cream and other farm foods
- Nakafurano’s lavender festival and fireworks display
- Lavender picking and gift making
When to See Hokkaido’s Lavender
When is Hokkaido’s lavender season? And what’s the best time to see it?
These are probably your first questions, so let’s have a detailed look at the lavender season.
Hokkaido’s Lavender Season
Hokkaido has 4 major types of lavender. Two early blooming varieties: Deep Purple and Yotei. And two late-blooming varieties: Hanamoiwa and Okamurasaki.
Hokkaido’s lavender season starts with the bloom of the early lavender varieties at the end of June. They reach their peak at the beginning of July.
The late-blooming varieties reach their peak in the latter half of July. Hanamoiwa in mid-July and Okamurasaki in mid-July to late-July.
Depending on the weather the lavender can bloom until early or even mid-August. But due to its harvest in August, you usually can’t see it that long.
The lavender harvest usually takes place in the first week of August and brings Hokkaido’s lavender season to an end.
Lavender Season 2018
In 2018 the Furano Tourism tweeted around June 25th that the early blooming lavender has turned slightly purplish.
Around July 10th the early varieties were in full bloom. And around July 20th was peak season with most of the lavender being in full bloom.
Around August 4th the lavender viewing season ended with the harvest of the lavender.
Lavender Season 2019
In 2019 the early varieties started blooming mid-June, due to a warm May. The lavender fields looked already kinda nice around June 20th.
On July 3rd the early blooming lavender reached its peak and from July 10th until around 25th was the best viewing time for the lavender.
On July 31st the lavender season ended extremely early due to bad rainy weather.
Best Time To See Hokkaido’s Lavender
Most of Hokkaido’s lavender flowers are Okamurasaki. A late-blooming lavender variety that reaches its peak in the latter half of July.
Therefore in mid- to late July most of Hokkaido’s lavender fields are in full bloom. Even some of the early varieties can still be blooming. Thus making it the best time to see Hokkaido’s lavender fields.
Lavender Blooming Forecast 2020
Usually, the time of the lavender season doesn’t change so much. The first bloom can differ, but the peak season stays more or less the same.
If you want to make sure to see the lavender, plan to visit Hokkaido between July 10 and July 25. Within these days you should definitely be able to see the lavender fields in bloom.
However, if you are still interested in the forecast. Or if you want to know the perfect day within the peak season you can check the following links.
Furano’s tourism organization has a lavender forecast twitter account. It’s in Japanese, but with pictures. They usually start tweeting once the blossoms have opened up.
They also have this English Furano lavender forecast website. But their linked English twitter account hasn’t been updated since 2014. So I’m not sure whether they update this page in summer or not.
Just in case here’s the corresponding Furano lavender forecast webpage in Japanese.
Where to See Hokkaido’s Lavender
As I said before Hokkaido’s lavender actually means Furano’s lavender. Because all of Hokkaido’s lavender sightseeing spots are located around Furano.
Furano’s Lavender Fields
Furano is located right in the center of Hokkaido. It is about 1 hour away from Asahikawa and about 2 hours away from Sapporo.
Furano’s lavender fields are the most famous and most popular ones. So this is the place to go to see the lavender fields!
You can find most of its lavender fields in the city’s outer districts Nakafurano and Kamifurano.
Biei’s Lavender Fields
Biei is another city quite famous for its lavender. The city is located in the same region. Just 40 minutes further north of Furano.
From Asahikawa, it takes about 30 minutes and from Sapporo, it takes a bit more than 2 hours.
Biei is actually a little bit more famous for its flowers and its Blue Pond, but you can also see lavender.
Most travelers and lavender tours combine a trip to Furano and Biei.
Farm Tomita is the oldest lavender farm in Furano and Furano’s top attraction. Here you can see more than 60,000 lavender flowers.
The farm is located in Nakafurano and easily accessible by train. It is right next to Lavender-Batake Station – a special lavender farm station that is only available during the lavender season.
On the farm, you can stroll around the vast lavender and flower fields for free. They also have a greenhouse. So you can see lavender all year round.
Their lavender soft-serve ice cream is a must-try! And I also recommend you to try their delicious lavender cheesecake.
At their souvenir shops, you can buy all kinds of lavender-related products. You can also observe how they make lavender soap.
This is a second farm that is run by Farm Tomita located in Kamifurano. It’s harder to access but you can see Japan’s largest lavender field.
In the center of the farm, there is a little hill, called Fragrant Breeze Hill with an observation deck. It offers a beautiful 360° view of the lavender around you.
They also have an attraction called “Lavender Bus“. This is a purple-colored tractor that will tour you through the lavender fields.
For about 15-20 minutes you can enjoy the good smell of the lavender and the breathtaking views of the Tokachi and Yubari Mountains. The tour guide speaks Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean.
The special lavender white chocolate soft-serve you can only try here.
Saika no Sato (Saika Farm)
Saika no Sato (彩香の里) is a famous lavender garden in Nakafurano. Their lavender fields have been featured in several movies, dramas, and commercials.
The farm is a bit smaller, but their pretty fields have a different charm to them. Also, you have a very nice panorama view from their cute viewing platform on top of the hills.
Most of their lavender flowers are Dark Purple. An early-blooming variety. In total, you can see 12 different lavender varieties, though. They also have less common ones like Narisawa and Lavadin.
At their cafe, you can buy lavender and melon ice cream. And they also have shops that sell lavender-scented eye masks, soaps, and pillows.
If you want you can also try lavender picking.
Highland Furano (ハイランド富良野) is the largest lavender field that is located directly in Furano. However, it is still about 8 km away from the station.
It’s well worth a visit, though. Especially if you love onsen. Because Highland Furano’s lavender field is located right in front of a hot spring hotel.
Here you can view the lavender while soaking in an outdoor onsen bath. Even at night, because in mid-July, the lavender fields are illuminated after sunset.
If you stay at the hotel you can use the hot spring facilities for free. But the hotel also welcomes day-time visitors. For just ¥600 you can get the special lavender onsen experience.
Shikisai no Oka (Shikisai Hill)
Shikisai no Oka (四季彩の丘), also known as the panoramic flower garden is Biei’s top flower spot. The garden’s patterned flower rows and colorful blossoms spread over 15 hectares.
They have a tractor bus that will carry you through the park. Similar to the one at Lavender East. It is called Shikisai-no-oka Norokko and the ride offers spectacular views of the hills, the flower garden, and Mt. Daisetsu.
You can also rent a buggy or cart and drive by yourself, which is a fun way to explore the garden. The buggies follow a certain course, but with the cart’s you can drive wherever you want within the park.
Another special thing about this garden is their alpaca farm. For a little extra fee, you can enter the farm and feed the alpacas. If you’re lucky you can also see baby alpacas.
Flower Land Kamifurano
Flower Land Kamifurano (フラワーランドかみふらの) is another popular lavender farm. It is located in Kamifurano and a bit harder to access.
The farm is renowned for its lavender activities and food experiences.
You can make your own lavender pillow, for example. Or pressed flower postcards that you can send to your friends and family.
Flower Land Kamifurano is also famous for its seasonal veggies. You can try asparagus, corn, potatoes, and juicy Furano melons.
These are just a few of the places where you can see the lavender fields.
There are a lot of other farms and gardens like, for example, Choei Lavender Farm, Hinode Lavender Field, Kanno Farm, Miyama Pass Lavender Garden.
When you do sightseeing in Furano and visit Furano Winery you can also see a lavender field just next to the Wine House.
In case you come here in August, you still have a chance to see lavender at the Rokugo Viewing Platform. Since it is located further up in the mountains. It is near Furano Jam Garden and Goro’s Stone House.
Hokkaido’s Lavender Experiences
So now that we have answered the two most important questions when and where let’s look at what you can do.
During Hokkaido’s lavender season you can have some unique experiences you shouldn’t miss.
See Nakafurano’s Lavender Festival & Fireworks Display
The Nakafurano Lavender Festival & Fireworks Display (なかふらのラベンダーまつり＆花火大会) is one of the regions’ largest summer festival.
Each year it is held during the lavender blooming season in July to celebrate the full bloom of the lavender.
The festival consists of two parts. During the day you can see a character show, a yosakoi dance performance, and band performances.
At the eating and drinking corner, you can try lavender-flavored food. You can also get some hands-on experiences on picking lavender or making lavender potpourri sachets.
Later at night, the fireworks display takes place. Fireworks in Japan are always amazing and this particular one features a lavender theme and shells with a lot of purple and green. The firework is accompanied by music.
In 2019 the festival took place on July 13rd. And in 2018 the festival took place on July 14th. So the festival usually seems to take place on the second Saturday of July.
Ride the Furano-Biei Norokko Train
The Furano-Biei Norokko train (富良野・美瑛ノロッコ号) is a special sightseeing train that only operates during the lavender season.
It offers beautiful views of the lavender and flower fields. And you can also see the Patchwork Road, which is one of Biei’s top sights.
The train is the only one that stops at the temporarily constructed Lavender-Batake Station, which is just 5 minutes away from Farm Tomita.
From June until September the train operates on weekends. And during the lavender high-season from late July to mid-August the train operates daily.
The trip from Furano to Biei or vice versa costs less than ¥1,000 and is covered by the Hokkaido Rail Pass as well as the Japan Rail Pass.
Take a Ride Through the Lavender Fields
I’ve already mentioned this before, but many of the farms offer tours through their fields. For a small fee, you can hop on a tractor’s carriage and enjoy a relaxed farm sightseeing tour.
Farm Tomita’s tractor is called “Lavender Bus“. And Shikisai no Oka’s tractor is called “Shikisai-no-oka Norokko“. The rides take about 15-20 minutes and cost only ¥200 or ¥300.
Shikisai-no-Oka also offers you to explore their garden by buggies or carts. It’s a bit more expensive, but you can drive yourself.
Try Lavender Picking & Harvesting
Lavender picking is an activity that you can try at many of the farms.
You’ll get a bag and you can pick as much lavender as you want as long as it fits into the bag.
Nowadays you can also sometimes try a real harvesting experience. Some farms will allow you to join their harvest.
You can help them plug their seasonal veggies or help them to pick strawberries.
Make Lavender Gifts & Souvenirs
Especially at Flower Land Kamifurano, you can make all kinds of personal gifts and souvenirs for you and your friends.
The most popular activity is their lavender sleep pillow workshop. It just takes 10-15 minutes until your pillow is ready.
Besides that, you can also make pressed flower postcards, pressed flower plates and lavender potpourris.
All of the workshops take less than 30 minutes and cost less than ¥1,000.
Do a 1-Day Lavender Tour from Sapporo
This is a very good option for you if you couldn’t find a good place to stay in Furano or Biei. Or if you’re just looking for a nice day trip from Sapporo.
There are several companies that offer 1-day bus tours from Sapporo to Furano’s and Biei’s lavender fields. They also often include other sightseeing spots like Biei’s blue pond.
Departure is usually around 8:00 in Sapporo. And by bus, you’ll be driven all the way to Hokkaido’s lavender fields. On the way, you stop at different sightseeing spots in Furano and Biei.
The stops depend on the tour but Furano’s Farm Tomita and Biei’s Shikisai-no-Oka farm are often included.
Hokkaido’s Lavender Products
Lavender Ice Cream & More
Eating lavender soft-serve is the second best thing to do after viewing the lavender. This ice cream is a must-try when you visit Furano.
The list of lavender-flavored foods and drinks are endless, though.
If you have a sweet tooth you can try lavender cream puff, lavender cheesecake, lavender custard and more.
And the list goes on with lavender coffee, lavender tea, lavender lamune, lavender shrimp sandwiches, potatoes with lavender butter…
Furano Lavender Oil & Soap
Furano lavender oil is made from Okamurasaki. Its lavender oil of the highest quality. Since this lavender variety is known for having the best fragrance of all lavender flowers.
The lavender oil you can buy at Farm Tomita is only extracted from flowers harvested at their peak. Their oil also won the first prize at a lavender oil contest held in France.
Furano’s lavender soap is another popular product. It’s a natural additive-free soap. So you can use it even with sensitive skin.
Plan Your Trip to See Hokkaido’s Lavender
How to get to Hokkaido’s Lavender Fields
JR Furano Lavender Express
The JR Furano Lavender Express is a direct limited express train that brings you from Sapporo Station to Furano Station in about 2 hours.
The one-way trip costs about ¥5,000 ($35, €41, £34) and is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass and the Hokkaido Rail Pass.
The Lavender express only operates during the lavender’s blooming season. And please note that there are only a few round-trips available a day.
The earliest train I found departs at 7:52 or 9:49 and arrives in Furano at 9:49 or 11:07. The last train back departs at 15:20 or 16:51 and arrives in Sapporo at 17:22 or 18:46.
Please check the times one more time by yourself before you go.
Furano Lavender Bus
The Furano Lavender Bus is a bus that connects Asahikawa with Biei and Furano.
The bus regularly departs from Asahikawa Station and Asahikawa Airport and stops at Biei, Kamifurano, Nakafurano, and JR Furano Station.
The earliest bus in Asahikawa departs at 9:30 and arrives at Furano Station at 11:12. The latest bus back departs at 17:00 and arrives back in Asahikawa at 18:40.
The one-way trip takes 1.5 hours and costs less than ¥1,000 ($9, €8, £7).
Luckily the lavender’s blooming season doesn’t change so much and is a bit longer. So In contrast to the cherry blossoms, it is fairly easy to plan your trip. Just aim for the second or third week of July.
Most of the farm’s lavender fields are admission free and the opening hours are only for the shops. So you can come here earlier and avoid the tourist crowds.
If you arrive around 8 o’clock you have enough time to stroll around the lavender fields and you can go have breakfast at the farm’s cafes or go shopping when they open at around 9 to 10.
There are a lot of lavender farms and other places where you can see lavender fields. Most of them offer similar lavender experiences, so I don’t recommend you to go to all of them.
Pick the best ones or a few you really like and use the remaining time to check out Furano’s and Biei’s other sightseeing spots. There are so many nice flowers and other things you can see in Furano and Biei.
Plan in 2 to 3 days for Furano and Biei and then head off to explore the rest of Hokkaido.
If you can’t catch the train that stops at Lavender-Batake Station, don’t panic! Get off at Nakafurano and walk to Farm Tomita. It’s just a 20-minute walk.
A lot of guides recommend to rent a car, but there are also a few farms that are easily accessible by train like Farm Tomita. And especially during the lavender season, public access is very good.
Avoid driving to Farm Tomita when it is a long weekend because you’ll only get stuck in a traffic jam.
When I explored Furano and Biei I did it entirely on foot. I couldn’t see everything, but all of the major spots. If you love walking/hiking it’s no problem at all.
Thank you for reading and I hope I answered all of your questions about Hokkaido’s Lavender Season.
If something wasn’t clear or you’d like to have more information, feel free to contact me anytime!
Also if there is any topic you’d like to know more about – Biei, Hokkaido, or traveling in Japan in general – just tell me and I’ll write a blog post about it!
I’m currently writing on some other posts about Furano so stay tuned!
You might also be interested in my Furano Travel Guide – What to see, Do and Eat. Other awesome travel destinations in Hokkaido include:
Shiretoko, Sapporo, Hakodate, …
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Resources & Links
- livejapan.com (Hokkaido Summer Guide)
- japan-guide.com (Furano Flower Fields)
- alljapantours.com (Hokkaido Lavender Tours)
- japancheapo.com (Hokkaido Lavender Fields)
- ana-cooljapan.com (Lavender Fields Furano and Biei)
- hisgo.com (Hokkaido Lavender Tour 2019)
- kyuhoshi.com (Lavender Season in Hokkaido)
- lavenderfurano.com (Furano in Summer)
- english.kyodonews.net (Lavender News 2019)
- matcha-jp.com (Sapporo’s Lavender Garden)
- farm-tomita.co.jp (Farm Tomita Official Homepage)
- furanotourism.com (Lavender Efflorescence Status Information)