About Biei Blue – Biei Blue Pond and Shirahige Falls
A Whimsical Shade of Cobalt Blue.
This mythical shade of blue is referred to by its popular nickname, “Biei Blue”.
Let us introduce you to this scenery that you will only find here, in Biei, while we follow the source of this mysterious blue.
Please note that from 1st April 2020, a parking fee will apply to the Blue Pond parking lot.
1Biei Blue Pond
The beautiful Biei Blue Pond with its fairytale cobalt colour
“Hmm? I feel like I've seen this before…”
Those of you thinking as much are probably Apple Mac users. In 2012, Apple used the Blue Pond as a computer desktop image and its name became known worldwide.
But do you know why Biei Blue Pond came to be blue?
In actual fact, Biei Blue Pond is not a natural feature. In December 1988, at the same time as a volcanic eruption at Mt. Tokachi, many small “blocking” dams were built into the Biei River to protect against mudflows from the mountain, all as a part of disaster countermeasures. By pure coincidence, the blue water of the river pooled up in one such dam and created the Biei Blue Pond.
But of course, water doesn't turn blue simply by pooling in one place—the secret to the Blue Pond's colour is in the very water itself.
Opinions are divided as to why the pond's blue colour is so striking, but the water begins life by by linking up with tributary rivers in the vicinity of Shirogane Onsen as well as Shirahige falls, containing sulphur and other hot spring composites. These tributaries then mix with the water of the Biei river, containing aluminium. When these two waters combine, a substance, which we cannot see with the naked eye, called “colloid” is created.
One theory behind the blue colour is that when the light from the sun and the colloid particles in the water collide, light is scattered in various directions. Blue light has a shorter wavelength and it is easier to disperse so it reaches our eyes first, causing the pond to look very blue. Another theory is that the whiteish soil at the bottom of the pond reflects light, drawing out the blue colour in the water.
Sunlight, aluminium and the Biei River-- because of this perfect balance, the blue colour came to be. Isn't it amazing that a pond made by coincidence created such a beautiful spectacle?
The blue that you'll see changes depending on the weather and time of day. What's more, you can enjoy differing beautiful scenery depending on the season.
The beautiful Biei Blue Pond in fall, with autumn leaves reflected on its surface
Enjoy the illumination display on autumn and winter evenings.
Snow falls in November and piles up on the withered Japanese larch trees
The Biei Blue Pond, completely frozen over in winter (December through to mid-March)
In the evening, the frozen pure white pond is magically illuminated
Biei Blue Pond Illumination 2021 ～ 2022
November PM 5:00 - PM 9:00
December PM 4:30 - PM 9:00
January PM 5:00 - PM 9:00
February PM 5:30 - PM 9:00
March PM 6:00 - PM 9:00
April PM 6:30 - PM 9:00
*Please note that there may be occasions where the lights are not turned on due to bad weather (typhoon, blizzard etc).
Parking: Please use the new parking lot opened in October 2018.
A parking fee will apply at the Blue Pond parking lot from 1st April 2020
The falls are around 30 metres from top to bottom and get their name from the way that the large number of smaller falls streaming from crevices in the rock face look like a white beard (“Shirahige” meaning “white beard” in Japanese).
The source of the falls is subterranean streams from Mt. Tokachidake. These streams form a type of waterfall that is rare even for Japan, one that is known in Japanese as “senryubaku” which means “a hidden flow waterfall”.
The Biei Blue Pond that we introduced earlier is fed by Shirahige Falls and the Biei River. Essentially, the origin of the clear Biei River's blue colour is at the point where the blue Iozawa, Shirinashisawa, and the Iu Rivers link up at Shirahige Falls. These three rivers mix together to become one river and the pretty blue colour that we see is why the Biei River is known locally as “The Blue River”.
And of course, the point where the flow of the blue river pools up is the Biei Blue Pond.
You can see the cobalt blue of Shirahige Falls even in the winter months.
Facing the falls is the Blue River, whose blue colour is most prominent against the snowy scenery.
Shirahige Falls Illumination
Period: A permanent exhibition from November 2018
Parking: Please use the public parking lot in front of the Shirogane Tourism Information Centre.
◆If you're going to Biei Blue Pond or Shirahige Falls, we recommend the Biei Sightseeing Bus!
The Biei Sightseeing Bus is a tour bus that explores sightseeing spots in Biei in each season. If you'd really like to thoroughly explore all of Biei's sightseeing spots but aren't sure of how to find your way or are nervous about driving on winter roads, this is the option for you! You'll be shown around by one of our veteran guides.
The course content and days of operation differ by season, so please check the Biei Sightseeing Bus page for more information. We regret that the tours are only operated in Japanese at this time.
◆Stay Active with a Rental Bike!
Roadside station “Biei Shirogane Birke” operates a rental bicycle service.
All kinds of bikes such as electric bikes, road bikes and cross bikes are available for hire so you can choose whichever style you prefer.
Including time spent sightseeing, it is only about a 2 hour return trip to cycle to the Blue Pond and Shirahige Falls and back from Shirogane Birke. Please enjoy a relaxing cycle through the beautiful Shirogane area, getting the most out of stunning nature while feeling the gentle breeze on your skin!
For more information, please see Shirogane Birke's home page (Japanese only).
3While you travel...
Of course, travelling means trying lots of local sweets and treats, right?
Here, we would like to introduce you to some local goods inspired by the Blue Pond!
Blue Pond Soft Serve Ice Cream (Summer Only)
A soft serve ice cream adorably topped with a cookie picturing an Ezo Fox (a species of fox native to Hokkaido). You can choose from one of three flavours—either a plain soft serve made from Biei milk, soda pop flavour or a mix of the two. You can only enjoy this limited-edition snack when the Blue Pond Shop is open for business!
Blue Pond Pudding (Summer Only)
The white bottom half is a creamy milk pudding made using Biei milk and the blue part at the top is a lemon-flavoured jelly. Enjoy two flavours in one!
This is a product unique to the Biei Blue Pond shop—please enjoy this flavour that you can only experience here in Biei.
Blue Pond Soda
A refreshing blue soda that almost completely resembles Biei Blue Pond.
The bottle's design is also incredibly cute and makes the perfect souvenir to keep in the car with you while you drive around Biei!
Please give it a try, calling the Blue Pond to mind as you drink it.
The most popular cider is the Blue Pond Lemon Cider (left), fizzing with bubbles! The bottle with the golden corn field design is the very fizzy wheat flavour (centre). The bottle with the rolling hills at sunset is flavoured with haskap berries from here in Biei (right).
It's good fun to compare all three flavours!
All of these can only be purchased in Biei.
Blue Pond Rice Crackers
Are you shocked by how blue these are? If you're coming to Biei Blue Pond, you simply must try Blue Rice Crackers. These snacks can only be purchased at roadside station “Biei Shirogane Birke”.
How about buying some of these as a souvenir from the Biei Blue Pond?
A creature that only ever appears in one place… For us here in Biei, that's Mokeke!
Mokeke seems very popular lately and there are often times where he's sold out. If you do find him, we recommend you grab him before he's gone!
At roadside station “Biei Shirogane Birke”, there's also a huge Mokeke stuffed toy. How about taking a picture with him to commemorate your trip?
Blue Pond Shop
- Shirogane, Biei-cho, Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido
- 0166-94-3355（Roadside station"Biei Shirogane Birke"）
- 09:00 - 17:00
- Closed in winter
Roadside station “Biei Shirogane Birke”
- Shirogane, Biei-cho, Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido
- 09:00 - 18:00 (Jun – Aug) / 09:00 - 17:00 (Sep – May)
- New Year (31st Dec – 3rd Jan)
4Bonus Information – Wellness Spots
Close to Biei Blue Pond and Shirahige Falls is Biei Shirogane Hot Springs.
You can of course overnight here, or you can just visit for the day to try out the baths.
Take a breather in the hot springs, and completely satisfy yourself with the 100% natural warm water.
For more information, please see this article about Biei's hot springs.
Wouldn't you like to come and visit this Blue Scenery?
The bright blue sky and the bright blue pond in summer, the contrast of the blue against the leaves in autumn, and in winter the magical atmosphere of the illumination—there are so many ways to enjoy Biei Blue Pond from season to season.
Please do come and see our beautiful Biei Blue.