What’s the story behind the “Ken and Mary’s Tree”? The unique 6 trees of Biei, Hokkaido.

What’s the story behind the “Ken and Mary’s Tree”? The unique 6 trees of Biei, Hokkaido.
Biei in Hokkaido is home to an abundance of photogenic spots; such as Blue Pond, Shikisai-no-Oka, etc. 6 unique trees of Biei will be the focus for this article.
These picturesque trees are located along the popular driving route; Patchwork Road.

1. Seven Stars Tree

Seven Stars Tree
  • Seven Stars Tree
  • Seven Stars Tree

|”Seven Star” is a tobacco company which has been cherished for over 40-years. They used a huge oak tree on the design of their packaging.

This lone oak tree stands on top of a hill with a 360-degree view of Patchwork Road. It has been known as the “Seven Stars Tree” ever since 1976, when the Japanese Monopoly Corporation (now JT) used a photograph of the tree in their Seven Star souvenir packaging; “Hokkaido Trip”.
In summer the tree is surrounded by a blue sky and white potato flowers, and during the midst of winter, the whole area turns completely white. The tree is located near the roadside, and a car park is also available nearby. This perfectly allows visitors to stop their car and enjoy the beautiful scenery to the full.

2.Ken and Mary’s Tree

Ken and Mary’s Tree
  • Ken and Mary’s Tree
  • Ken and Mary’s Tree

|The scenery changes every season around this tall poplar tree located in the middle of the vast Biei landscape.

The tree itself is said to be over 90-years old. In 1973 Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. filmed a TV commercial for their Skyline car here. The tree has since been named after the 2 characters who appeared in the commercial.
Seeing the tree tower over the surrounding farmland is not only very beautiful, but this scene can also be accompanied by seasonal flowers such as rape blossoms, lupine, and buckwheat flowers in summer. During fall the tree can be seen alongside golden hay, and in winter the whole area is covered in white snow. A car park is conveniently located nearby; thus allowing tourists to park their car and enjoy the tree from a variety of angles!
What’s more is that there is also a cafe in the vicinity which boasts a fantastic view of the Ken and Mary’s Tree. Why not relax and have a tea break here while overlooking the majestic scenery of Biei?

3. Parent & Child Tree

Parent & Child Tree
  • Parent & Child Tree
  • Parent & Child Tree

|A mother and father, and their child. Take a step back and you’ll even see the mother-in-law...!

These 3 oak trees seem to snuggle up next to each other on top of a small hill. The reason behind the name can be found by simply looking at the trees themselves. After all, 2 of the oak trees are large (the parents), and the one in between is quite small (a child). It seems that this family has a great bonding!
The Parent & Child Tree is best seen from afar. There is even the so-called; “Mother-in-law Tree” located a little way away. The crops grown in the farms around the tree get replanted every year – wheat, potatoes, and beets can all be seen alongside the tree.
Please note that there isn’t a car park nearby – lots of tourists tend to park along the road during the peak season. Please endeavour to take due care of these roadside parked cars.
【Address】Yubari Mita, Biei-cho, Kamikawa Province, Hokkaido
【Access】15-minutes by car from JR Biei Station

4. Mild Seven Hills

A TV commercial for Mild Seven tobacco was filmed at “Mild Seven Hill” in Biei in 1978; hence why it became known as such. The “Another Mild Seven Hill” and the “Former Mild Seven Hill” are also famous spots used by the same tobacco company.

|Are the larch trees of Mild Seven Hill disappearing due to the tourists, or due to the captivated photographers...?

The larch trees of Mild Seven Hill; used in TV commercials and posters, were originally planted in a straight line to form a windbreak.
Mild Seven Hills
  • Mild Seven Hills
  • Mild Seven Hills
▲Mild Seven Hills, as seen in the TV commercial.
Lots of photographers flocks here to capture the beautiful scenery of Mild Seven Hill – be it alongside purple lavender or potato flowers in summer, the golden wheat of fall, or the crisp whiteness of the winter snow.
Unfortunately nearly 2/3rds of the Mild Seven Hill trees have been lost since 2018. Opinion has it that this is a countermeasure against photographers and tourists who; eager to take a photograph, trespass across nearby farms without permission.

|The “Another Mild Seven Hill” changes into a winter wonderland masterpiece in winter.

The Another Mild Seven Hill and the Former Mild Seven Hill are located a little north from the Mild Seven Hill. These hills have also been used in the packaging for the tobacco.
Another Mild Seven Hill
  • Another Mild Seven Hill
  • Another Mild Seven Hill
▲The hills which made it on the Mild Seven packaging; Another Mild Seven Hill, and Former Mild Seven Hill.
The round shape of these thickly-grown larch forests is what sets them apart and makes them unique. While coming during spring or summer to see the lush greens of these forests is very beautiful, the most recommended period to come is in winter; when the landscape is magnificently covered in snow.
The best time to see this magical landscape during mid-winter would be around 2–3 pm. It is at this precise time that the sun is located right above the trees; causing the trees to form long shadows along the snowy landscape. Don’t miss out on your chance to see it!

5. Tree of Christmas (Tree)

Tree of Christmas (Tree)
  • Tree of Christmas (Tree)
  • Tree of Christmas (Tree)

|While the “Christmas Tree” of Biei can be enjoyed throughout the year, winter has to be the most highly recommended season to see it!

This single Tohi spruce tree stands along Panorama Road in the south-eastern part of Biei. The reason why this particular tree has become known as the Christmas Tree is simple – not only does its shape look like a Christmas tree, but the foliage at the top of the tree also appears like a star.
Tohi spruce trees are a type of the hardy Ezomatsu spruce tree, and thus doesn’t shed its leaves during winter. In winter this lone tree stands dignified among the snowy landscape, with its shadow beautiful extending along the ground. Lots of people flock here in pursuit of capturing this beautiful scene on camera. It is also very magical to see the tree amongst the falling snow !
While it is important to capture this magnificent wintery scene on camera, please be aware that the land around the tree is private. Please do not enter onto the land without permission. The snow has been specifically removed along the roadside to allow visitors to park their car and enjoy the view of the tree from there.

6. Philosophy Tree

Philosophy Tree
  • Philosophy Tree
  • Philosophy Tree

|Unfortunately this tree can no longer be enjoyed. The reasons why can also relate to the reason why it is called the “Philosophy Tree”.

This lone poplar tree; which once stood on Biei Hill, fell in February 2016. The reason behind the name; the Philosophy Tree, comes from the trees shape – it appears like the tree is tilting its head back and indulging in thought like a philosopher. Lots of people come to visit the tree to see it with their very own eyes.
But, as time passed, the old tree started to fall. Some say that it was eventually cut down so as to not damage the crops around. However, some also argue that the tree was eventually cut down due to the poor manners of tourists and photographers.

Originally, it was only possible to photograph the tree from a nearby road; 100m away. However, it seems that some ignored the ‘No Entry’ signs and trespassed onto private farms in order to take a good photograph or see the tree up close. These people also left their trash behind them when they left – thus in part resulting to the trees demise.

Don’t forget the fate of this tree – always endeavour to protect the environment surrounding us.
【Address】Tokiwa, Biei-cho, Kamikawa Province, Hokkaido
So, what did you think of these trees of Biei Hill? From now through winter Biei Hill will be covered in snow and the trees will be surrounded by a glorious winter wonderland. It really is a sight to see.
While visitors rightfully wish to capture these wonderful trees and their beautiful landscapes on camera, please remember that most of the land around the trees on Biei Hill is private land. Please endeavor to abide to the rules and regulations of the land and refrain from entering private land without permission. Please also keep good manners and refrain from littering, and also parking anywhere apart from the designated areas.

Please endeavour to protect the beautiful scenery in Biei by taking photographs and driving around responsibly.

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