Escape! Malaysia - - Hokkaido -

Next to So­rachi is the Kamikawa sub­pre­fec­ture. For many years, the area has been a favourite with lo­cal Ja­panese who want to ex­pe­ri­ence the spe­cial ‘di­a­mond dust’ snow of Hokkaido but it is quickly ris­ing in pop­u­lar­ity with for­eign tourists hop­ing to ex­pe­ri­ence authentic Ja­panese sight­see­ing and ac­tiv­i­ties. Most lo­cals travel around the area in a car, as there are many in­ter­est­ing stops to be made in be­tween at­trac­tions.

There are many ar­eas to ex­plore within Kamikawa, start­ing with Bi­fuka. The small town is known for its stun­ning na­ture, es­pe­cially its forests. An ac­tiv­ity called ‘for­est bathing’ is highly rec­om­mended in the area. To try for­est bathing, head to Torokko Ohkoku to take a trol­ley train ride through the for­est. While on the ride, pas­sen­gers can take in the scenery of the sur­round­ing for­est com­fort­ably. The idea of for­est bathing is to be re­ju­ve­nated and reen­er­gised from look­ing at the trees’ lush fo­liage and ap­pre­ci­at­ing the won­ders of na­ture. Along the 5km trail, be sure to look out for hid­den trea­sures like gush­ing wa­ter­falls and even wildlife like deer, squir­rels, and even owls.

Bi­fuka is also the largest rear­ing area of stur­geon. One of the best places to savour stur­geon is at Bi­fuka Hot Spring. The tra­di­tional hot spring are like many found in Ja­pan and has two in­door baths, an out­door cold bath and a sauna. How­ever, apart from spend­ing a re­lax­ing time at the ther­a­peu­tic baths, many vis­i­tors to Bi­fuka Hot Spring will also in­dulge in a stur­geon kaiseki, a mul­ti­ple course meal fea­tur­ing sea­sonal pro­duce. For this par­tic­u­lar kaiseki, din­ers will be able to try stur­geon cooked and pre­pared in a va­ri­ety of ways.

Af­ter vis­it­ing Bi­fuka, trav­ellers can start to make their way to­wards Asahikawa but not with­out vis­it­ing two small towns, Nay­oro and Kem­buchi, along the way first. In Nay­oro, make a snack pit­stop at Shimizu Farm, which sells a wide va­ri­ety of Hokkaido food sou­venirs, such as dai­fuku, which is a Ja­panese mochi con­fec­tion. At Shimizu Farm, the large dai­fuku come in lots of dif­fer­ent flavours; tra­di­tional ones in­clude matcha green tea or straw­ber­ries with red bean fill­ing and more novel ones in­clude can­taloupe, and even green peas.

From Nay­oro, more fun and feast­ing awaits in Kem­buchi on­wards to Asahikawa. In Kem­buchi, fam­i­lies with young chil­dren should def­i­nitely check out Viva Al­paca Farm. The true high­light of this farm are of course, the al­pacas. Fluffy and wild-haired al­pacas are raised on this farm and vis­i­tors can buy small

FROM TOP The beau­ti­ful scene of forests in Bi­fuka on the trol­ley ride

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