Furano Travel Guide
Furano is the most famous of Japan's ski resorts, though it's still relatively undiscovered by foreign tourists. It's known for its light, powdery snow, of which up to 29 feet (9m) falls each year, and equally for its amazing weather, which features more sunny days than any other resort on Hokkaido.
The Furano Ski Area is divided into two areas: the Kitanomine zone, open from mid-December to late March; and the Furano zone, which is open from late November to early May. Both areas have a range of accommodation, restaurants, and après ski options, all just minutes away from the town of Furano by shuttle.
The town of Furano offers many cultural attractions, including ancient shrines and temples along with theatres, spas, shopping markets and locally-produced cheese, wine, and ice milk. Visitors should be sure to visit the town's many museums, cafes, and galleries.
The slopes in the Furano Ski Area offer good skiing opportunities for all levels. The slopes are divided in to two zones: The Furano zone and the Kitanomine zone. There is a family ski area at the base of the Furano zone, and first timers are warned that there are no beginner courses from the top of the Kitanomine Gondola. The Furano Ski School is located at the base of the Kitanomine zone.
Furano is comprised of several small farming towns around a municipal centre. The region is known for its picturesque lavender fields and vineyards as well as for its powdery snow, and visitors can enjoy an array of locally-produced goods such as wine, carrot juice, and cheese.
There are a number of hotel shops and grocery stores selling this produce but the best place to go shopping for souvenirs in Furano is Ningle Terrace, where travellers can find a charming collection of craft shops in small log huts. Local artists, glass makers, and jewellery crafters work here.
The wide variety of eating out options in Furano include a few restaurants a short stumble from the slopes, and many different establishments in town. There are plenty of great sushi restaurants, as well as many eateries selling simple international staples. Holidaymakers will also find French, Italian, and Chinese restaurants, and a number of pubs and karaoke bars to keep themselves entertained.
Although there is not much of a clubbing scene, Furano has plenty of bars, pubs, and restaurants that promise visitors a spot of night-time revelry. The Furano Tourism Association is very proactive and often organises a number of interesting cultural events, such as traditional Japanese music performances, which are usually free of charge and allow tourists to interact with locals and enjoy Japanese culture. There are also theatres and art galleries to be investigated.
Visitors can enjoy a number of fun outdoor activities, including snowmobiling, snow rafting, hot-air balloon rides, cross-country skiing, and sledding. There are many tourist attractions in the city as well; a popular rainy day activity is a tour of the local cheese and wine factory where visitors can help make and sample cheese, ice-cream, and butter. The resort is also bordered by Hokkaido's incredible Daisetsu-zan National Park, a wonderfully scenic area for tourists to explore.
There have been some complaints about groups of foreigners becoming too rowdy on the slopes.