Information about Biei, including population, industry and the local shops
|Population||10,762 (as of Feb. 2013)|
|Main industries||Agriculture, tourism|
|Altitude||Downtown Biei 250 m / Shirogane Onsen 600 m / Bogakudai 930 m|
|Official flower of Biei||Lily of the valley (When settlers first arrived in Biei, the land was said to be wild and dilapidated, but when summer arrived there were so many flowers there was hardly room to walk.|
|Official tree of Biei||White birch|
The name is derived from the Ainu term Piie, meaning oily or turbid river. The pioneers pronounced this as Biei, and eventually chose the kanji characters that are now used, in which the meaning "beautiful and bright like a champion" is also implied. Many other place names are derived from the Ainu language, such as Bibaushi from the term Pipaushi (meaning place where lots of mussels live), Rubeshibe ([Rupeshipe] the track that leads down to land on the other side of the mountain), etc.
Extending approximately 1.1 km north to south, this shopping district was completed 14 years after land readjustment work began in 1989. The shops have triangular roofs based on the image of Mt. Tokachi , as well as projecting signs, foundation stones made from Biei tuff, and the year of establishment inscribed on their exterior walls.
What's more, the electricity cables are buried underground, the roads and pavements are wide, and roadside snowmelt gutters make walking in the streets easier in winter.
In 1971, a landscape photographer inadvertently stopped-off in the Biei & Kamifurano area on his way home from a photo-shoot trip around Japan, and was inspired by the scenery of the hills there. He subsequently continued to make frequent return visits to Biei over the next 16 years.
Many of the photographs he took ended up in books, on postcards or on posters, and the scenes he captured were used in films and TV commercials, enabling the scenery of Biei to be known throughout Japan.
That photographer was Shinzo Maeda, who eventually became renowned throughout the world. A disused elementary school building amid the rolling Biei countryside was turned into a photo gallery, which to this day continues to inspire the countless visitors it attracts.
The highest peak of the Tokachi Mountain Range in the Daisetsuzan National Park, Mt. Tokachi-dake is an active volcano that repeatedly erupts as part of a 30- to 40-year cycle. According to records of the past 5 eruptions, communities at the base of the mountain, such as towns like Biei and Kamifurano, have suffered varying degrees of damage.
At the Mt. Tokachi-dake Erosion Control Information Center , established in the Shirogane Onsen spa town, seismic observation is carried out and visitors can learn about volcanic eruptions and erosion-control dams.
Ken and Mary Tree (poplar)Named after the characters in a TV commercial for a Japanese car, which was broadcast in 1972 and featured the tree.
Parents and Child Trees (Daimyo oak)The sight of the row of three trees is said to resemble a mother, father and child standing together.
Seven Star Tree
Mild Seven Hill
(Japanese larch trees)
* Various crops colour the hillside fields during different times of the season, as if stitched together like a quilt. As a result、 the area has become known for its "patchwork hills."