Every winter, dramatic nighttime illuminations highlight Biei's Blue Pond, Aoiike in Japanese. The vividly colored pond, dotted with a forest of submerged trees, was made famous by photographer Kent Shirashi. His photograph of the pond in winter was incorporated as a wallpaper for all Apple Mac products in 2012. Since then, the Blue Pond has become a major destination for both Japanese and international tourists eager to behold the surreal sight. Located a few hours north of Sapporo, the Blue Pond was created when the Biei River was dammed up in 1988. Natural minerals leached from adjacent mountains and waterfalls into the water give the man-made pond a unique coloration that ranges from deep azure to aquamarine. In evenings during the winter, the emerald-tinted ice glows with hidden lights.
Tour buses to the Blue Pond run once daily daily from the Biei Tourist information Center near Biei Station during the winter. Times change each year, so inquire for the latest schedule.