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Hokkaido’s Shirogane Blue Pond: Top Tips For Visiting Biei’s Mystical Spot

Hokkaido's Shirogane Blue Pond (or Aoike) is one of the northern island's most popular sightseeing destinations! The Blue Pond's deep hues, which look as if it has been dyed, dotted with withered Japanese larch trees, make for a surreal spectacle.
So how to see it for yourself, and when is the best time to go? Here we’ll guide you through this must-see tourist attraction as it changes through each season, along with some photography hints to capture the Shirogane Blue Pond in all its glory! We’ll also let you in on some other gems in the area so that you can have a full day’s worth of fun!

What Makes the Hokkaido Blue Pond So…Blue?

The Shirogane Blue Pond is an artificial phenomenon resulting from the installation of a dam on the Biei River. This was needed to halt a mudflow that poured out of active volcano Mount Tokachi during its 1988 eruption. Thus, the exquisite tourist attraction we know today is nothing more than an accidental byproduct!
While the pond appears blue, the water itself has no color at all. Scientists have discovered that aluminum particles in the upper streams of the nearby Shirogane Onsen have mixed with water from the Biei River, resulting in a colloid state.
While it sounds sciency, it simply means that the aluminum is evenly and thoroughly dispersed within the water. These floating particles catch the sun's rays and send off short, easily scattered wavelengths that are intercepted by our eyes as the color blue.

How to Get to the Hokkaido Blue Pond

On the main road in front of Biei Station is a bus stop heading to Shirogane-Oyuki Seinen no Ie. Take this bus and get off at Shirogane Aoi Ike Iriguchi. The journey will take about 20 minutes.
The busses stopping here are very limited, so be sure to have a copy of the schedule before embarking on your trip. Even busses following the same line may skip this stop, so do be extra careful!  
From the bus stop is a road leading to the pond’s car park. The ground is a little uneven here, so watch your step!

If you’re coming by car, the corresponding parking lot has 270 spaces. However, you’ll need to pay for a spot.
There are plenty of signs letting you know the route through the parking lot.

You’ll soon come across a gentle slope.

Other than the designated tracks leading down to the pond, the space between the road and the pond is largely fenced off. These tracks have no steps, and the railing is wonky, so pay extra attention here!

Encompassing the pond are several small paths covered with white birch trees. Each trail provides a unique angle of the pond, so be sure to explo…

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