June 18, 13 | Chiaki Uzurahashi
"Tokachi Millennium Forest" - Shimizu Town - Enjoy a deep breath of fresh air in this beautiful garden landscape.
In Shimizu Town, located in the Tokachi area, is a beautiful forest being preserved for visitors 1,000 years from now. "Tokachi Millennium Forest" is located at the foot of the Hidaka mountains and spreads over about 400ha. Currently there are Hokkaido gardens being developed in the area, focusing on the themes "earth, forest, and wildflowers." Visitors can enjoy the beautiful harmony of nature as well as art installments which are dotted around the forest.
I visited the forest in late May when the forest had begun to change to its summer colors. When I arrived at the entrance to the garden, the "Entrance Forest," I was greeted with a symphony of natural sounds. The calls of wild birds, the babbling of brooks, and a soft breeze all began to make me feel right a home in the forest.
▲Experience nature while taking a leisurely walk through the forest.
Today I'd like to tell you about the "Earth Garden" and "Meadow Garden" areas of the forest. These two gardens were created by UK garden designer Dan Pearson.
He has won many awards, including the SGD Award 2012 from The Society of Garden Designers in the UK, as well as being the first to win the "Grand Award" and "International Award (Grand Prize)" right here in Japan!
The Earth Garden is a 5ha area made of 13 hills of wavy grass. The appearance of these grassy hills changes depending on where you stand, how the wind blows, and how the sunlight is reflected, giving each visitor a unique experience.
▲"Earth Garden" When you see it in person the scale is surprising. It's enough to make anyone want to break into a full run!
The Meadow Garden contains over 35,000 plants of around 80 different species. The blooming periods of each of the plants has been carefully considered to create a unique combination of colors and shapes which changes practically every day!
▲"Meadow Garden" Capturing the beauty of the grasslands throughout the seasons. The yellow blossoms are Rudbeckia, which bloom in the summer and autumn seasons.
This year the forest is paying special attention to roses. The internationally known rose specialist Michael Marriott is working in collaboration with Dan Pearson to open a special "Rose Garden." To celebrate this unique garden, there will be a special "Rose Festival" from July 20th to August 14th this year. These 25 days are the best time to see the roses in full bloom, so be sure to stop by!
▲1,200 roses, about 80 different kinds, will be blooming throughout the year!
For those who plan on visiting the Tokachi Millennium Forest this year, why not try one of the guided Segway tours? Booked one day in advance, the tours last two hours and cost 8,400 Yen. The tours take you across the charming Earth Garden area, and of course I had to try it out to let you know how it felt!
The wide open sky was a beautiful backdrop for the rolling fields of green below. The higher viewpoint afforded by the Segway, and the speed, added a sense of exhilaration to the experience that can't be felt by just walking the grounds. The cool breeze and summer green surrounding us gave a strong impression of the beauty of Hokkaido summers. All visitors should give it a try!
▲The Segway tour guides gave us instructions before we departed.
▲At the start my arms and legs were a bit rattled, but as I grew accustomed to the machine the ride became much smoother. Top speed was 20km/h!
▲The back area of the Earth Garden, heading towards the Millennium Hill.
We headed towards the "Farm Garden" where sheep and goats were out to pasture. If you hold some feed out for them they will rush toward you for the treat! There is also a cheese workshop in this area where they make cheese from goat's milk.
▲The looks on their faces when they get a treat is priceless!
If you're visiting Hokkaido in search of wide open spaces and lush gardens look no further than Tokachi Millennium Forest! It's the perfect place to breath in the fresh summer air while relaxing in the beauty of nature.
●十勝千年の森 (Tokachi Millennium Forest)
(Minami 10-sen, Haobi, Shimizu-cho)
http://www.tmf.jp (English Available)
■6/1〜10/6: Adult - 800 Yen, Children - 200 Yen,
※7/20〜8/14: Adult - 1,300 Yen, Children - 600 Yen.
※For more information about the Rose Festival or the Segway tours, please check the Tokachi Millennium Forest homepage.
※Information is accurate as of early June 2013.
(Hokkaido Likers Writer - Chiaki Uzurahashi)
Photographs provided by Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer - Megane and 十勝千年の森.