SEPTEMBER 13, 2007 - Part 1
After spending two days in Sapporo, it was about time for us to head to the next destination. Our initial plan was to go to 旭川 (Asahikawa) and later, 富良野 (Furano). But after some consideration for a better and smoother trip, we decided to head to Furano first. Obviously, our main intention of getting here is to go to the Lavender Park.
Well, that wasn't exactly the lavender park I meant. It was taken when the train passed some paddy field along the way to Furano. It was almost the end of the summer and it was the harvesting season here in Japan.
Furano is a town in the center of Hokkaido, known for its pleasant and picturesque rural landscapes. During the months of July and August, many lavender fields are in full bloom. In contrast, the region turns into a popular downhill and cross country skiing resort during the winter.
The journey from Sapporo to 中富良野 (Nakafurano) took us about 4 hours. We went to Nakafurano, instead of Furano as most of the lavender farms are in Nakafurano. Nakafurano is just 10 minutes train ride from Furano. The moment we stepped our foot at the train station, we went to the Information Center, only to be told that the lavender season was already over. We were like "What?! Sure or not??"
However, not everything were lost when we were told that there are still some lavenders blooming in some farms. Our plan was to spend the whole day in this town and we thought it would be better idea to get to a few other places as well, besides the lavender farm. We rented a bicycle for the whole day for 700yen (RM23) to get around the town. The first place we got to was Furano Cheese Factory.
The Furano Cheese Factory produces and sells butter, milk, ice milk and five kinds of cheese using Furano milk. The first thing that greeted us on the main door was this wooden carvings of a symphony.
Beethoven Symphony #6
I was wondering what wooden carvings and classical music got to do with cheese. But we saw some cheese eventually. The production process can be viewed from behind windows.
However, when we were there, the factory wasn't producing any cheese. So we headed to the first floor.
The first floor is mainly consists of a corner selling the products freshly produced in this factory. Samples of the cheeses, including a black cheese colored by squid ink, can be tasted as well. There is another section where visitors can have a first-hand experience making butter, ice cream, bread and cheese. Initially, we signed up for the hands-on workshop, only to be told that it will cost us more than 1,000yen (RM33). We canceled it, due to the amount it cost and also time factor.
I have never experienced milking cows. I mean real cows.
Fake cow will do for now, at least.
Besides selling dairy products, there was a corner featuring the origins of cheese and how it spread to all the other parts of the world.
They even displayed different packaging of cheese from different parts of the world.
As some light snacks, I had a bottle of fresh milk and a piece of cheese cake, costing 100yen (RM3) each. As expected, the milk was thick and creamy. The cheese cake wasn't any different either. It was just delicious.
We later went to the ice cream section, just next to the cheese section and I had cheese soft.
The next location was Furano Wine Factory.
the bicycles on the right are the ones we used to mobile around this town
Local wine has been produced in Furano since 1972. We were expecting to have a chance to see how wine was produced. But it never materialized.
Just like the cheese factory, there were almost no visitor to this wine factory. At the underground, there were many bottles of wines stored.
Some were put inside capsules. Take this for instance.
One thing for sure, I will not be around anymore when they open this capsule in year 2104. At another section, there were hundreds of wine barrels.
We then headed to the Grape Juice Factory, which was just nearby that wine factory. There were grape farms just about everywhere - whether you are looking to your left;
Or your right;
You will only see one thing - grape farms.
I just could not resist from getting down from my bicycle, and take a closer look at those grapes. These grapes are used for wine production in the nearby factory. I supposed we are not allowed to simply pick those grapes and eat them.
But since there weren't anybody there. I decided to have a small feast there.
I am sure you will do that as well, if you were there, wouldn't you? After spending some time on those grapes, we got to the Furano Grape Juice Factory.
Usually, visitors can observe the production process of grape juice from behind a window. But there wasn't any production going on when we were there. Again, I ended up eating another soft - this time it was grape soft.
This is a poster, with shows what do people around the world call "grape". Unsurprisingly, Malaysian version of "Anggur" wasn't there.
Just next to the factory, we came across something unexpected in the middle of the grape farm.
I wasn't sure what is the purpose of rearing those two animals in the grape farms.
But one thing for sure, both are males. Yes, I checked on them.
~ End of Part 1 ~