Nothing there. Nothing heard. Just silence.

I have never been attracted to any other place that much. Many people visit Hokkaido in summer, especially lavender season, but I highly recommend you to visit there in winter. There are so much difference between winter and other seasons, I felt like it was a completely a different place. Japan is getting warmer and warmer due to global warming. When I was a child, I could play with plenty of snow in my hometown. I use to make snow slide, snow dome and big snowman with my family. I don’t remember when was the last time I have seen such heavy snow. That’s why the snowy Hokkaido was very special for me.

These photographs were mostly taken at Biei, which is one of the remarkable places in Hokkaido. Many photographers and shop owners have moved here, and also many people come here again and again. Why Biei is so much attractive? There are many reasons, but I believe that one of the reasons is the place has Wabi-Sabi atmosphere. I love Kyoto — as you might — and the place definitely has Wabi-Sabi. The difference between Kyoto and Biei is Limited or not, for example, temple gardens in Kyoto and the landscape of Kyoto city were well-thought-out and intended within limited space. On the other hand, trees in Biei were also well-thought-out and intended, but they are in spectacular canvases. Perfectly balanced placing goes well with nature and makes them more beautiful. And also, they have some places looked like Province in France. They are definitely beautiful places but not same, distinctive tree placing might only can be seen in Biei.

Biei means beautiful crystal in Kanji, what a brilliant name! But actually it meant greasy in Ainu language because sulfur from Tokachidake mountain melted into Biei river and it was murky. As the original meaning says, making farm produce was too hard, soil was definitely not suitable for agriculture. Thanks to extraordinary efforts of farmers, we can eat incredibly delectable vegetables and see currently beautiful landscapes as ‘patchwork hill’.

So I was sad to hear that farmers have been suffering people who enter private properties. It’s a huge problem for them and us. In fact Philosopher’s tree — It was one of the most famous tree in Hokkaido, Michael Kenna loved it and you can see it on his photographies — was cut down due to this problem. It’s not just a legal matter, entering farmlands causes farm produce to get sick from their shoes. It doesn’t matter it’s covered by snow or not, and produces grow or not.

I saw the actual situation that travelers entered a private property even though there was a sign for no entry. People who enter farmlands are not only travelers but also Japanese and other country’s photographers. I heard from a nature guid that photographers tend to do because they are passionate about taking pictures we have never seen. This selfish thinking really lack of respect for farmers, taking a farmland as just an object. I also had the same feeling in Kyoto when I was taking autumn leaves. I believe that a picture without love and respect for place or people never touch others. If you have a chance to visit the place, I hope you remember and have respect for farmers making beautiful and valuable farmlands.

Farming equipments were left on the hill. It has been hibernating until next spring.

Biei station and Bibaushi station are one of the remarkable stations. Biei station was made of many beautiful bricks, and the main feature of Bibaushi station is its brightly colored roof. These stations are facing crisis of surviving due to finance difficulty so we might not have much time left to be able to see and use. It made me quite hard to leave, I took a lot of pictures and had a time to cherish the moment spending with them.

Unexpectedly, I spend a lot of time in Bibaushi station. It was very few choices of public transportations, no taxi came even I asked: only trains came every two hours. As a result, it was really good time to get warm and take pictures. No one was there almost all of the time. This heater protected me from biting cold so I wasn’t feeling cold even though outside was under -10 degree. I thank him/her and would like to say hi if I came back to the station.

I have entered into a snowy mountain with a nature guide, it was extremely great experience. These landscape wouldn’t be seen without a professional person, and snow shoes for trekking! The temperature was minus fifteen to seventeen degrees, when I took off my gloves, my hands turned into red immediately. Types of tree had been getting changed during climbing by car, 
according to him that’s because trees in the mountain had never been cut off. 
I could enjoy changing landscape from the car.

The place is that we can only visit during winter — Otherwise, you are possibly eaten by bear. Visibility was good before taking a below picture. I’m not sure when it happened, but suddenly it was snowing again and visibility was getting worse. It was a moment I felt power of nature. There were trees and snow, that’s all. I have never been such a silence place.

Lastly, you can meet these cute friends in Asahiyama zoo! I have never been zoo for ages but it was quite good experience. If you have a child, I highly recommend you to visit the place for learning about animals. The most recommended part is there were some stories about ecosystem and problems around animals. I was really impressed by a board written about animal fur problem.

Hope you became Hokkaido lover, and enjoyed these photographs and stories. I would be appreciated if you send love with the clap button! See you again.