Summer Sojourns (Part 1) – Lavender Furano

DSC03674Summer hit Hokkaido like a home run out of nowhere this week, with daily temperatures soaring above the thirties. The week before, Kyushu had been battered by Typhoon No.3, leaving swathes of land in Fukuoka and Oita under water. Here in Hokkaido, however, temperatures are slowly creeping above 25 degrees during the day. When dusk falls, it drops severely to the mid-10s (15 or 16 degrees). And then, it took a sudden spike above the 30s.

Unlike my colleagues at school, I welcomed and embraced the heat. For once, it felt like I was back home again, having been born and raised in the tropics all my life. I was thankful for the opportunity to continue my exploration of Hokkaido.

Here in Hokkaido, summer means lavender and melons – and Furano is synonymous with both. There’s even a dedicated train line that only operates during the lavender season – ferrying tourists by the hundreds every day from Furano to Lavender Fields Station for only 460 yen (return). From Lavender Fields Station, it’s a 5-minute walk to Farm Tomita.

DSC03623Farm Tomita is the top tourist draw in Furano. Despite the scorching heat, thousands brave the summer heat to wander among its purple lavender fields. Although it’s still considered early in the lavender season, meaning to say, the lavender is not in full bloom yet, the purple flowers had bloomed sufficiently to make for beautiful images.

19780377_10154690842427036_5535549101343014770_oAn essential part of the Farm Tomita experience, besides snapping a ton of pictures beside these flowers, is lavender ice-cream. You can choose from a variety of flavours – lavender, melon or a mix of lavender and melon/vanilla. I recommend getting the lavender/melon or lavender/vanilla mix.

Complete your Tomita experience with a slice or two of honey melon – the perfect dessert to beat the heat. Truth be told, however, that I preferred the ice cream to the melon. Granted, the melons were sweet and juicy, but at 250 yen per slice, and knowing the premium prices that honey melons command in Hokkaido, I actually have tasted better ones from back home. Still, having come all the way to Farm Tomita, leaving this place without having tried both the ice cream and melons would have been a gross travesty!!

DSC03664I did, however, give the lavender souvenirs a miss. If there’s one thing that Japan does exceptionally well, it is to milk the tourist experience with all kinds of delicious and exquisitely packaged sweets and obscenely cute knick knacks that will have you tossing your entire fortunes into their cash registers.

At one end of Farm Tomita, there are shops selling lavender scented perfumes, lavender hand cream, lavender hand soap, lavender bath salts, lavender moisturising cream, lavender potpourri, lavender everything.

At the other end, there are cafes and restaurants offering all manner of melon desserts and drinks. Purple and orange may not be a fashionista’s idea of a matching outfit, but here at Farm Tomita, it is a winning combination!   LS

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