After turning brown for a brief period, the body of water is back to beautiful blue.
Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s main islands, is filled with beautiful scenery, but one of the best concentrations is to be found in the town of Biei. With rolling hills and lush farmland, it’s enough to make anyone stop for a moment and drink it all in, especially if you’ve just come from Tokyo or one of the country’s other urban population centers.
Randomly pointing yourself down any road in the town will yield stunning vistas, but once you’re done wandering, you’ll want to check the map and make your way to the Blue Pond, which is breathtaking even by the already-high standards of Biei.
During the five-minute stroll from the nearest parking lot to the body of water, you may wonder what’s so special about the Blue Pond. After all, don’t most lakes look blue?
Yes, they do…but not like this.
The color of the Blue Pond isn’t the vague blue of the reflected afternoon sky, but a much more dramatic hue.
The local spring water is rich in aluminum hydroxide, and when it mixes with the water of the Biei River that flows through the pond it reflects an elevated amount of blue light.
▼ Biei River
Along with its color, the Blue Pond is granted a mystical atmosphere by the large number of white birch and Japanese larch trees which stand in the middle of the lake.
The unusual sight hints at the pond’s man-made origins. In December of 1988, nearby volcano Mt. Tokachi erupted, prompting experts to beef up the area’s disaster preparedness by building a dam to prevent volcanic mudflow from damaging the community, and water filled up in the Blue Pond’s location as a result.
In other words, the formation of the Blue Pond, one of the area’s most popular destinations, was merely a side-effect of a different public works project. While a typhoon last August briefly stirred up enough sediment to turn the pond brown, it’s back to its dazzling blue now, and ready to serve as a backdrop for visitors’ summer vacation photos.