Aoike: The Blue Pond
In Japan there are mysterious places often shown in photos but where nobody really seems to go. Aoike – literally the Blue Pond (青い池) – is one of these. This pond is in fact in the most popular area of Hokkaido, Furano, where all the cows gather and moo plaintively to attract tourists. But seriously, if you’ve seen pictures of lavender fields in Japan, it’s very likely Furano.
I didn’t want to visit Aoike and be just another brick in the wall. So I took Airi, my adventurer friend, on a night visit. A large empty parking lot, a path leading into the forest, the Milky Way overhead. I get out my two flashlights and we set off. Beware of bears.
It’s pitch black! The pond is only 10 minutes walk from the car park but I think that in case of a bear problem we’ll really have to run for it! The pond is invisible to the naked eye, so I have to illuminate the scene.
Well, that’s about the kind of result I wanted (minus the clouds and the moonlight at the side). But after 30 minutes messing about and running around everywhere, we choose to leave. The risk of ending up as bear snacks is too great. We’ll come back tomorrow morning.
Finally, around 6.30, there’s nobody around. Bu the light isn’t ideal and late afternoon would seem a better choice. We enjoy the quiet. The first rays pierce through the birch trees and the colours sparkle on the water.
I settle myself behind an old man who comes here to paint Aoike in all conditions and at all seasons.
I didn’t want to break the spell too soon but this place is actually not entirely natural. It’s the result of construction to prevent sudden erosion that could be caused by nearby volcanic activity. This system protects the Biei area downstream.
I recommend you a visit by night if you aren’t scared of bears. Or at anytime, this place is always beautiful anyway 🙂