With the dramatic Daisetsuzan mountains in the background, Biei is an artist’s and nature-lover’s mecca. The open fields, often covered in lavender or poppies, are so different from the rest of the mainland that you’ll wonder if you have left Japan and somehow ended up in rural France. The ubiquitous tour buses will bring you back to reality, particularly in late June and July when the flowers peak. It’s a fun place to visit any time: walking and cycling the dirt roads in summer, enjoying the autumn leaves, then cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter. If you want to sit down and relax, there are many coffee shops and art galleries.