Biei Pond is the blue pond of Hokkaido Island. Japan

Biei Blue Pond on Hokkaido Island, Japan (24 photos)

Blue Pond Biei is a small pond on the left bank of the Bieigoa River on Hokkaido, Japan’s second-largest island. It lies at the foot of Mount Tokachi, southeast of the picturesque town of Biei. Just 2.5 km to the northwest of it are the Platinum hot springs. The pond got its name for a reason – its water really has a juicy bright blue color, in addition, it has the ability to change its hue under certain conditions.

Blue Biei Pond in Japan in winter. Beautiful photo

History of the formation of the Blue pond began in December 1988, immediately after the volcano Tokachi erupted. At that time, in order to prevent the disaster and protect the area from the spread of mudslides that could descend from the volcano during subsequent eruptions, the Regional Development Bureau decided to build a dam. Construction of the dam was completed in June 1989. The water blocked by the concrete structure was trapped in the forest, resulting in a body of water with an incredibly beautiful color.

Blue Biei Pond in Japan in winter. Beautiful photo

Gradually, the Blue Pond became more and more famous, its fame was actively passed from mouth to mouth over the past few years. Even today, 24 years after its creation, it has become one of the most popular natural attractions of Japan, beloved by a huge number of tourists.

Blue Biei Pond in Japan in winter. Beautiful photo

Many studies have been conducted on the composition of the water of the Blue Pond, but the phenomenon of its unusual color has not yet been solved. According to one assumption, this phenomenon is due to the mixing of water coming from hot springs with river water saturated with aluminum hydroxide. The result is a ‘cocktail’ of sorts, which reflects sunlight in much the same way that the Earth’s atmosphere does, giving the pond its turquoise-blue color. The process of water renewal in the pond is continuous. It is interesting that watching the pond from different angles and at different times of day you can see the play of many different shades of blue: from rich blue to light turquoise. The ascending columns of dried birches and larches in the center of the pond add a special charm to the local landscape.

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Blue Biei Pond in Japan in autumn. Beautiful photo

The blue pond becomes the most beautiful with the first cold weather, when the thin crust of ice appears on its surface, which is then covered with the first snow, making it look like a frame from some sci-fi movie about distant planets. A photograph of just such a landscape gave the reservoir its global popularity. It happened a year ago, in 2012, when Apple included a photo of Blue Pond in the new OS X Mountain Lion operating system. This shot was taken by Beey resident photographer Kent Shiraishi in late October, when the first snow swirled over the body of water. National Geographic titled the shot “Blue Pond and First Snow.” Today, many tourists and photographers come here to see this miracle with their own eyes and to capture it with their own cameras.

Blue Biei Pond in Japan in autumn. Beautiful photo

To get to Blue Pond, you first need to go to Tokyo, from where you go to the Biei train station, where you can take a shuttle bus that will take you to a stop just a 10-minute walk from the pond in 15 minutes. For those arriving in their own vehicles, there is free parking nearby. Since the pond area is quite small, it only takes about 30 minutes to walk around it.

Blue Pond in Hokkaido: Japan

Despite being only the second largest island in the Japanese archipelago, Hokkaido leads the way in terms of nature reserves, national parks, and landscape attractions in the Land of the Rising Sun. Blue Pond – Blue Pond in Hokkaido, Japan, along with Mount Fujisan, Shiraito Falls, the Married Rocks and the rushing whirlpool of Naruto are among the top 10 popular tourist spots in the country.

The Blue Pond on Hokkaido Island in Japan cannot be called an independent, separate natural site. The body of water itself and its surroundings are located in Daisetsuzan National Park, which includes the active Tokachi Stratovolcano with Blue Pond at its foot, the Shikaribetsu volcano group with the majestic Ishikari peak, and the Platinum Thermal Springs.

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blue pond in hokkaido japan

History of Blue Pond in Hokkaido

Blue Pond is a man-made body of water. After the eruption of Tokachi Volcano in 1988, the Kamikawa County government, fearing mudslides that could occur again, decided to build a dam to block off the ravine where mudslides could flow. This construction was completed in 1989 and even before the headwater was raised the hollow sealed off with a concrete cofferdam started to fill up with water. The latest eruption of Tokachi Stratovolcano in 2004 showed that the dam reliably protects the low-lying areas from mudflows from melting snow on top of the volcano.

From the first years of the dam’s existence, locals noticed the unusual color of the water, which changed under the influence of weather conditions. From different vantage points, the surface of Blue Pond is reflected differently. The color range is variable, from a rich, bright blue to a faded turquoise hue.

Blue pond in Japan

Uncut birches and larches, flooded at the roots, which are associated with raised fingers, reproachfully threatening to take revenge on mankind for barbaric attitude to nature, add particular charm to the Blue Lake. Covered in the winter months with a thin crust of ice, the Blue Pond looks even more mysterious and attractive.

Today, this body of water, called Pond Biei in some tourist brochures, attracts many tourists. In its appearance, flooded trees and mountainous surroundings, it is somewhat similar to Lake Kaindy in the Kungei Alatau Gorge, Kazakhstan. However, the surface hue and color variability of the water of the Japanese pond are unique, and there is hardly a similar natural spring on our planet that surpasses this man-made body of water in its uniqueness.

Blue pond in Japan

The popularity and attendance of Blue Pond increased after in 2012 the American IT giant Apple Inc. used a summer landscape photo of the pond taken by Biei resident Kent Shiraish as one of the screensavers of its new OS X Mountain Lion operating system. Since 2012, Daisetsuzan National Park tours have included:

  • A visit to the Platinum Thermal Springs;
  • for extreme lovers – ascent on the slopes of Tokachi volcano along 4 hiking trails;
  • visiting the picturesque village of Biei-teo;
  • watching black Japanese bears living in natural conditions.
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Today, photographing the scenery and coastline of Blue Pond is in demand not only among organized tourists, but also among “wild” travelers.

Blue Pond Biei

The unusual color of the Blue Pond Biei water

Despite numerous studies, the answer to the question about the reasons for Blue Pond Biei’s blue water color and its variability has not been found. One hypothesis is that nearby thermal springs flow into Blue Pond Biei and carry with them supersaturated aluminum hydroxide. Mixing hot, highly mineralized water with fresh water forms a kind of natural “cocktail” that transforms the incident sunlight similar to Earth’s atmosphere. Light whose spectrum is in the short, blue-blue range is reflected, while sunlight with a longer wavelength is absorbed by the pond’s waters. If this hypothesis explains the variability of the color range when the weather changes, the question of the change in the color of the water surface when observed from different angles of view remains open.

Pond in Japan

Some geographers and geologists explain the high level of mineralization of water created by the warm springs beating from the bottom by the high preservation of submerged trees. For more than 25 years the trees standing in the pond’s waters have hardly changed their appearance – the limbs have not broken off, the bark has not turned black, and it seems that the Blue Pond in Hokkaido (Japan) was formed a few years ago. As a comparative example, they cite flooded areas of the Gorki and Rybinsk reservoirs, where fresh water and fungi, mold spores and microorganisms contained in it have completely destroyed the flooded forest areas.

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