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Bios on the Hill, an Orchid Wonderland

By: David Knickerbocker

Date Posted: 2003-03-22

There are few better ways to spend a sunny Spring afternoon than by wandering through a park. Last weekend I headed up north to Ishikawa city to the Bios on the Hill nature resort to spend a sunny afternoon aimlessly wandering through the park's immaculate lawns. Though Bios is an Orchid park, more or less, all will enjoy the pleasant atmosphere here, even those who are not avid fans of orchids. Bios is a Greek word meaning Life, so the name Bios on the Hill is very fitting for this large nature resort as there is an abundance of plant, animal, and insect life here.

As soon as you enter Bios on the Hill and park your car, you will come across the entrance. Here, you can buy one of two types of tickets. For 1,000 for adults and children over 13 or 580 for children ages 4 to 12, you can purchase a ticket which includes a boat ride through the park's small stream. The ride takes about 25 minutes and boats leave every 30 minutes starting at 9:30 a.m. and going until 5:30 p.m. Bios on the Hill has many boats and many guides, so you should have no trouble finding a seat; however, it'd be wise, if possible, to bring a local friend to translate as the guides only speak in Japanese. I couldn't understand a word of what was being said, but the ride was still very pleasant. If you'd rather not take the boat ride, you can pay for an admission-only ticket for 630 for adults and children over 13 or 300 for children ages 4 to 12. Children 3 years old and younger have free admission to the park grounds.

After paying the small admission fee, you'll be given a park pamphlet with a map inside. The entire pamphlet is in Japanese, but it's pretty easy to figure out. The map shows three separate routes you can wander at Bios. The dark blue line shows a leisurely walk, the yellow line is a pond-side walk, and the green line is a nature walk. The park is not too big, so it's easy to wander all three separate routes at your own leisure. Also, the park has ramps and elevators, so those with physical disabilities should have no problems wandering the park.

On the pamphlet, you'll also see a dozen or so pinpointed spots on the map with corresponding numbers. These show specific points where you can see difficult to find Okinawan orchids and other flowers. The park also has a lot of wildlife. It's very tropical. The nature of Okinawa at its best!

After entering the park, you'll walk a short distance and come to the elevator. Before heading down, you might want to check out the scenic view from the overlook. This is a pretty good photo spot, and you can see much of the park from up here. When you're ready, take the elevator down and you'll reach the park grounds. The first thing you'll notice is an abundance of orchids. They're everywhere--in pots, in trees, in scientific jars, everywhere! If you brought your camera, the entrance to the park grounds is another very photogenic area. You might want to snap a few shots here before you use up all of your film elsewhere as this is about the most beautiful area of Bios. Cameras are on sale at a few different locations though, so don't worry if you run out of film.

You might get hungry after a few hours of wandering the park. There are a few separate areas where you can catch a bite to eat. By the harbor, there is a small shack where you can order onigiri (rice balls), muchi, pineapple sherbert, and other light snacks, and there is also a restaurant near the park entrance that serves Okinawa soba, soki soba, and taco rice as well as drinks and dessert.

An orchid park doesn't seem like a very fun place for kids to hang out, or at least that was my initial thought when I was driving to Bios. However, Bios on the Hill has several fun things for kids to do. There are a few large wooden structures to climb on, stilts, swings, teeter-totters, metal hoola hoops, and a lot of land to run like the wind! In all honesty, the kids seemed to be having more fun than the adults!

Those of you who are into photography might be interested to know that Bios on the Hill is holding it's 2003 photo contest right now. The contest has three categories: Landscape or People, Nature, and Random photography. Landscape, People, and Nature photographs must be 254 x 365 mm, and random photographs must be 130 x 199 mm. Both black and white and full color photographs will be accepted. The deadline for the contest is May 31. On June 19, Lequio magazine will show the winning entries and winners will be notified. On June 22, awards will be given at the Bios gift shop. The winners and runner up photographs will be on display in the Bios Hall building from July 3 to July 28. Professionals and amateurs are all welcome to participate, but be sure to make duplicates of any pictures you submit as photos and negatives will not be returned. If you use a digital camera, your data will be needed. If you would like to participate in the event, ask for an entry form at the park entrance by saying, "Photo Contest Oubo-youshi kudasai." Also, contest organizers ask that if you submit a random photograph of a person, you must ask that person's permission since winning photos will be on public display.

The grand prize for the photo contest is 50,000, an orchid plant, a Fuji Film award, and a hotel ticket for the Royal Garden Resort Hotel. Two second prize awards will be given. These include 20,000, an orchid plant, a Fuji Film award, and hotel and restaurant tickets. Dozens of other great prizes will also be awarded. If you would like to submit your photograph, send it to Bios no Oka, 961-30 Kadekaru, Ishikawa City, Okinawa, 904-1114. Even if you don't win an award, you will still be eligible to receive tickets for two people to Bios on the Hill just by participating.

Bios on the Hill is an excellent place to spend a sunny afternoon, and it's also a fun spot to take pictures. There are thousands of flowers everywhere. The landscape is gorgeous! It'd be easy to spend a whole day here! The park is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. everyday, but you must enter the park by 5 p.m. For more information on Bios on the Hill, check out their website at www.bios-hill.co.jp (Japanese), or call them at 098-965-7300.

The easiest and quickest way to drive to Bios is by using the Okinawa expressway. Head towards exit 6 in Ishikawa city. Exit here. Head straight out the exit and head straight about 100 meters until you et to a T-intersection. Turn right. Here, you should see Bios signs leading you all the way to the park. Head straight, and after going through a tunnel you'll get to another t-intersection. Turn right again. Head straight until you see the big Bios sign. You'll also see Royal Garden Hotel sign here. Head towards the Royal Garden Hotel and Bios and the signs will lead you all the way to the parking lot.

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