- Accommodation & Hotels
- Ski Area
- Ski Lifts & Pass
- Facilities & Services
- Activities & Things to do
- Sights & Landmarks
- Restaurants & Nightlife
Furano Ski Resort, also known as Furano Ski Area, is a resort in Furano, Hokkaido, Japan, owned and operated by Prince Hotels. One of the leading ski areas in Hokkaido, the resort became famous for its long-standing relationship with the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup. In more recent years, it has held the mid-February Snowboarding World Cup. A view from the top of the slopes offers a panoramic view of the Furano Valley and the Tokachi Peak Mountain Range.
Furano is known as Heso no Machi (the Belly Button Town) due to its central location. Furano's inland location (almost 100 km -- about as far inland as Japan gets) and high elevation result in a continental climate, the reason behind Furano's successful ski hill and wine industries. There is a very large temperature variation, so a light jacket is recommended even in the summer. Summer midday temperatures may exceed 30 degrees C, and midwinters will drop below -30. Furano has very heavy snowfall in the winter.
The population is approximately 26,000, including the incorporated communities in the outskirts. The population of the main municipal area is said to be about 16,000. Don't expect to meet a large number of English speakers outside of the major hotel and tourist areas.
There has been a substantial increase in foreign skiers and snowboarders, particularly from Australia, in recent seasons. Furano seems set to enjoy the same skiing success that Niseko has.
Meanwhile, the Furano Basin has become more and more famous for its summertime lavender fields, which draw multitudes of visitors from Taiwan and China as well as from all over Japan.
Furano ski holidays take you to one of the world's best powder stashes. Situated in the middle of Hokkaido means that the epic amounts of snowfall are drier than Niseko or Rusutsu and powder skiing is virtually guaranteed.
The Furano ski resort has very well developed amenities and services, but unlike some Japan ski resorts, Furano doesn’t feel too “resortified”. The nearby town of Furano is rather authentic, and both the town and resort provide adequate creature comforts including the ability to cater to English speaking guests, without losing the essence of Japan.
The Furano Ski Resort is a fantastic all-rounder with ski and snowboard terrain for all ability levels, off-piste riding, and quality Central Hokkaido powder.
The Furano Ski area is made up two zones, the Kitanomine zone (Mid. Dec - Late Mar) and the Furano zone (Late Nov - Early May). Both areas have a variety of accommodation options and the town of Furano is only a 3 min shuttle from the Kitanomine zone and a 6 min shuttle away from the Furano zone, and is home to a wide array of restaurants and bars and all the services you would expect to find in a town. Both of these zones can be accessed on the one pass and are serviced by 11 lifts. Furano has an abundance of varied terrain for every level of skier and snowboarder and a vertical drop of over 950 meters making it one of the steepest mountains in Hokkaido.
Bordered by Hokkaido's stunning Daisetsu-zan National Park, Furano is truly a world-class resort and it is a testament to the mountain and the quality of the snow that it has hosted the FIS Downhill World Cup 10 times and regularly hosts National and International ski and snowboard events including the 2005/2006 Snowboard World Cup. Many of Japan's top skiers choose to base themselves here due to the great conditions and exhilarating mountain.
Furano Ski and Snowboard Terrain
Furano Japan is a large ski resort by Japanese standards (so it’s not huge!), with 9 lifts and 24 courses (ie marked runs) and 974 metres of vertical, which has enabled the resort to be put on the world cup ski racing map.
Furano is renowned for the many long groomed runs for beginners through to advanced riders, and whether you like to cruise or want to zoom down runs at Mach 2 until your eyes water, if you like groomers then Furano skiing is for you. And most of the Furano lifts are fast, so your legs will need to be super fit to last the day!
Furano also has on-piste runs that are left au naturel, with pitch at up to 34 degrees. For advanced and experts the main attraction is the very good off-piste terrain and amazing side-country (easily accessed backcountry) for those with avalanche gear and the know-how.
Furano used to have a reputation for the prohibition of off-piste and tree skiing, and a history of this being policed very strictly. Thankfully this is no longer the case, and off-piste skiing is now permitted in most parts of Furano so you no longer have to appear invisible.
Beginner Skiers and Boarders
The base areas of both sides of the mountain have wide gentle courses serviced by a detachable quad and 2-person lifts. There is also a beginner’s area at the top of the ropeway (cable car) so that beginner skiers and snowboarders don’t have to be confined to the base areas. 40% of the mountain is rated beginner so some of the runs are skiable for those whishing to push themselves. Furano has two ski schools located in both the Furano and Kitanomine zones. English speaking instructors will be available and all are certified.
Advanced Skiers and Boarders
For the advanced skier or boarder there is a huge variety terrain that will seriously challenge your ability. 20% of the mountain is rated advanced and there are many steep and deep runs to savor. Better yet if you are a powder fiend there is nothing better than waking up after one of the many huge dumps and casually strolling to the gondola for first lifts knowing that only a couple of hard-core locals will be waiting their ready to charge down the hill.
Intermediate Skiers and Boarders
Furano’s courses are long, wide and fast and perfect for intermediate skiers and boarders. With 40% of the mountain rated intermediate you will continually find runs to challenge and excite you. Choose from a variety of ways to get down the hill from easy cruising groomers to 4.8km long, roller filled runs all the way to the base. Furano also has a downhill course that the World Cup has been held on regularly if you are up for a challenge. Or just have fun and relax with family and friends and enjoy the mountain together.
Open until 8pm on both mountains, night skiing is a spectacular way to spend an evening. Whilst cruising down the well-lit groomers enjoy the amazing views of the area coming to life at night. On both sides you can ski almost to the door of some bars. On the Kitanomine pension side of the hill, you can ski to the door of the Ice Dome and bars and order a beer or a hot baked potato without even stepping out of your bindings. With an abundance of restaurants, bars, activities and events you will not be short of things to do once you have put the ski gear away for the evening.
Furano Snow & Weather
Whilst Furano receives around 9m of some of the lightest and driest snow of anywhere in the world, it is also blessed with an amazing amount of blue sky days, more than almost any other ski area in Hokkaido. With a snow base consistently topping 3.3m each year, it is almost magical that so many mornings can provide perfect skiing and boarding conditions with such regularity. Waking up to fresh snow and a blue sky will make sure you are out of bed and on the first lifts each morning.
The temperatures in Furano are slightly colder that that of some of the costal ski resorts, but that is why we consistently get such amazingly good snow. The snow that falls is excellent and even when 2 or 3 days don't deliver any white gold, the snow is still fluffy and easy to ski and board on.
Furano dining is delicious, fun and affordable with a variety of Japanese and western style restaurants and cafes in both the ski village and the main township of Furano.
For those who like to get out on the town, there are a few bars within some of the hotels and pensions, and with Furano town only minutes away you can find some funky bars, fun Japanese izakayas (pubs), karaoke rooms and even some dancing!
On mountain dining
There are a number of restaurants and cafeterias open on the mountain during the ski season. At the base of both the Kitanomine Gondola and the Furano Ropeway (cable car), there are decent restaurants where you can get a wide variety of good, hearty and healthy meals. At the top of the ropeway in the Furano Zone there is also a small European style café ? restaurant with a fireplace to sit by. There are a variety of choices for all diets and tastes if you look for it and all the food is reasonably priced. There is also food, drinks and beers available at vending machines right across the hill at different points. All drinks are also very reasonably priced. At the base of the Kitanomine gondola you can find the Snow Dome Festival site. This is a great area to grab a bite to eat after skiing, have a relaxing drink, hot wine, beer or hot chocolate, and unwind in a small country festival atmosphere.
Furano accommodation consists of mostly western style hotels and pensions. Furano is somewhat unique for a Japanese ski resort in that it also has a small range of self-contained accommodation options such as apartments and houses. Furano is less expensive than Niseko accommodation, and there are lodgings to suit most budgets, although high end accommodation is somewhat limited.
Family Friendly Japan Ski Resort
Furano is somewhat unique in that it can cater for English speaking kids. Child care is available with English speaking staff and ski lessons for children are available with English speaking instructors. Furano also has various other family friendly activities on offer.
The resorts generally operates from around the end of November to the beginning of May.
Accommodation is in three main areas. At the base of the Furano Zone, at the base of the Kitanomine Zone or in downtown Furano. There is a lot of accommodation around the base of the Kitanomine Zone within a short walk of the lifts. Accommodation includes hotels, pensions, western-style self-contained condominiums and backpackers. In the Furano Zone the only accommodation next to the lifts is the ski-in ski-out New Furano Prince Hotel.
Transportation - Get In
Furano has indirect train service from Sapporo and New Chitose Airport. All trains require a transfer at Takikawa station. The last trains leave New Chitose Airport at 8:19PM and Sapporo at 9PM. In the winter, there is also a Ski Express Train from Sapporo which leaves at 8:04AM, and can also be accessed from the local airport train which leaves New Chitose at 6:53AM. There are 12 direct trains from Asahikawa, with the last train leaving JR Asahikawa Station at 10:37PM.
- Furano express, Chuo Bus (中央バス高速ふらの号). 8AM-7:20PM (departure time at Sapporo). This bus connects Sapporo and Furano in 2.5 h. Approximately hourly service from Sapporo Station bus terminal. ¥2,260.
- Lavender Express Bus. 9:35AM-7:25PM (departure time at Asahikara Station). This line provides connections from Biei, Asahikawa Airport, and JR Asahikawa Station. Approximately hourly service. Take care not to confuse this with the JR Lavender Express train. Asahikawa Airport-Furano Station ¥770, Asahikawa Station-Furano Station ¥880.
If you are arriving at New Chitose Airport after 8PM, an expensive taxi ride might be necessary. It may cost ¥25,000-35,000 depending on season if booked in advance, and more if not.
Furano is accessible by Highway 237 and Highway 38. There is no direct expressway. The closest expressway exit is Takikawa, about 45 minutes away. In good weather, it takes about 3 hours to reach Furano from Sapporo and 1 hour from Asahikawa. Driving to Furano in winter can be quite dangerous and is generally not recommended — unexpected blizzards, snow drifts, and icy roads are common.
Transportation - Get Around
The JR Furano Line runs north to Asahikawa, through the scenic Furano Valley, full of flower fields in the summer. The Furano-Biei Norokko tourist train runs daily from June through August and on weekends into the fall. It stops at Nakafurano with its lavender slopes, at the seasonal Lavender Field station near Farm Tomita, and at Kamifurano near Flower Land Kamifurano. Yamabe Station on the JR Nemuro Main Line east (toward Obihiro) offers access to mountain-climbing trails on Mount Ashibetsu, which is located within the Taiyou no Sato park, about 45 minutes' walk from the station.
Furano Bus provides most local bus services. The office is located directly across the street from the entrance to JR Furano Station. Conveniently, their office is shared with the Furano Tourist Association, which can provide advice on how to reach tourist attractions by bus. Overall, the bus service is poor, with only a few buses each day going to many of the major destinations.
Due to the lack of effective public transportation, taxi services in Furano are very good. The largest carrier, Furano Taxi, has a cell-phone interpretation system which can provide service in English, Chinese, and Korean. Their fleet also contains wheelchair-accessible and other special-needs vehicles. For a small group, taxi can be quite affordable, with fares to many tourist attractions under 2,000 yen per trip. There is a 20% fare increase for late night (10pm to 5am) or winter (Nov 25 to Mar 31) services.
Furano has a high traffic accident rate and one of the highest fatality rates for accidents in Japan. Rights of way are often confusingly marked on back and rural roads, where locals will often drive in excess of 100 kph. Driving is not recommended during the peak summer holidays (o-bon or local festival periods) due to the severe traffic congestion. If you are unfamiliar with winter driving in Japan, do not start here. A four-wheel drive vehicle is highly recommended. Many minor roads will be solid ice, and major roads may ice or drift over during the evening and early morning. The stop lines and center lines will be completely invisible at many intersections — look for the blue signs which designate them. With that said, Furano has a generally poor public transit system, and many of Furano's unique attractions are best reached by car. Be careful when drinking — even a sip of wine puts one over the legal driving limit in Japan.
Rental cycles may be found near the train station. With the station at your back, several souvenir shops on the left side have bicycles for rent. They may not offer a helmet (adults in Japan almost never use bicycle helmets) but helmets may be available if you ask. Many hotels and pensions will also lend out bicycles. It's safest to stay on sidewalks wherever possible.
It's quite possible to explore the small downtown area on foot. The Kitanomine ski village is also very accessible by foot, although winter conditions can be severe. Other areas, such as Rokugo, are quite spread out, with several kilometers between points of interest. During winter, one should be very careful of footing, as paths and streets are often slick ice.
Furano ski resort has great on-piste terrain for beginners through to advanced skiers and boarders. For advanced and expert riders, there’s a wealth of off-piste terrain, and thankfully off-piste skiing is now tolerated by ski patrol. This is amazing that a Prince Resort could become so progressive (relative to many other Japanese ski resorts that are stuck in a time warp and ban off-piste riding!). Those wanting to sniff out the powder no longer need to practise the limbo and art of being invisible before visiting Furano!
The Furano ski area has two zones. One is called the Furano Zone (open late Nov to early May) which has the New Furano Prince Hotel at the base (which is not to be confused with the Furano Prince Hotel which is closer to the Kitanomine base). The Kitanomine Zone (open mid Dec to late March) has the Kitanomine gondola station and lots of accommodation near the base. The two zones are interconnected by a link run and lift.
There are many beginner and intermediate runs at the base of each side of the mountain, with the steeper and deeper runs up higher.
Furano Ski Terrain for the Beginner
Furano has three areas where beginners can learn to ski or snowboard on beautifully groomed wide runs. At Kitanomine these are off the quad chair (there are no beginners runs from the top of the gondola), and at the Furano base by utilising the lower Romance Chair. From the top of the ropeway, another beginners’ area can be accessed by riding the upper Romance Chair. You might be kept company by the typical school groups in identical outfits, only to be differentiated by the numbered bib. Enjoy the uniqueness of your own outfit!!
Furano Skiing - Intermediates
Furano is heaven for the intermediate skier or snowboarder, or those wanting to progress to the next level. With long cruisers and fantastic fall-line, there’s plenty to choose from to improve the technique and start picking up the speed.
Furano Terrain Park & Pipe
There’s a half pipe above the New Furano Prince Hotel, and there are very limited park facilities including a table top, bank and wave. The terrain park is nothing worth writing home about.
Advanced Skiing Furano – On-Piste
The top half of the mountain has some steep groomed descents including the ladies’ downhill which is some fast fun. There are also a few fast runs off the ropeway to test the leg fitness. There are some ungroomed courses under the gondola and the long and reasonably steep Kumaotoshi is accessed from the gondola. It is only open for limited parts of the day, possibly to make it seem exclusive! The Challenge course on the far skiers left of the Furano Zone provides some ungroomed skiing, and an opportunity to ruin your knees on the bumps.
Ski Furano Experts – On-Piste
There is no in-bounds piste terrain for experts. There are no super steeps, no chutes or drop-offs.
The resort’s approach to tree skiing and off-piste skiing has relaxed significantly. Understandably, there are still a couple of areas that are marked by the patrollers as no go zones due to avalanche risk.
There are lots of off-piste areas to explore, with the link area being one of the most obvious spots to play. Some of the other tree runs do not have a great fall-line, with significant side angles resulting in one-legged quad burn. The runs that do have a good fall-line have patches of steep pitch and some tight trees to test your turning radius. Not surprisingly, the tighter the trees, the less trashed the snow becomes!
There are some awesome side-country runs on both sides of the resort, and between the two parts of the resort in the link area. These areas are accessed fairly easily with no hiking, but the exits might be frustrating for snowboarders.
Many years ago we were able to repeatedly hit the sidecountry to the skiers’ right of the resort and enable all our power dreams to come true – freshies everywhere, steep descents, widely spaced trees and neck deep powder in places. Unfortunately the freshies don’t last long now, but at least you don’t have to play Furano fox with the patrollers anymore.
Ski lifts & pass
The Furano lift infrastructure is very good on both the Kitanomine and Furano sides of the resort. If your legs aren’t super fit, you’ll be wishing that some of the lifts were a bit slower! There are a couple of fast quad chairs, as well as a gondola and cable car, 5 double chairs, and a single chair.
The main lift at Kitanomine is a gondola (which disappointingly doesn’t open until 9am). On the Furano side the main lift infrastructure is a cable car (ropeway), which is supposedly the fastest lift in Japan. The only downside (unless you need a rest!) is that sometimes you have to wait for the cable car to arrive (or wait for a 2nd one).
Furano has night skiing on small areas on both sides of the mountain.
|Peak season||Low season|
Facilities & Services
The Furano ski resort is reasonably well developed with very good services and facilities, especially when compared to many other Hokkaido ski resorts.
Furano Child Care
Furano has a child care centre in front of the Kitanomine Gondola (Kojima Academy - Snow Kids Care) with qualified English speaking staff. The childcare caters for kids 1 to 5 years of age (you can enquire re babies and they may be able to assist). It is recommended to pre-book this service. The childcare can be provided for a half day (2.5 hours) or for the full day (6.5 hours). In conjunction with FISS (see below), Kojima Academy can also provide a child care/ski lesson combo if you want your child to have a one hour private ski lesson (ski equipment included).
If your Furano accommodation isn’t near the Kitanomine gondola, there are free transfers available between the New Furano Prince Hotel and Kitanomine, and Kojima Academy also has a pick up service available from other Furano hotels.
Furano Ski School
Furano has a couple of ski schools that cater well to English speaking clients. You should pre-book lessons as English speaking instructors can be in short supply.
The Furano Snow School offers ski and snowboard lessons for kids and adults in either group or private format. Group lessons are held (in English) for kids ages 6 to 13 in both the morning and afternoon (so you’ll have to pick the kids up for lunch), or private lessons can be provided for children ages 4 and up.
The Furano International Snowsports School (FISS) also has ski and snowboard lessons from instructors that are fluent in English or are native English language speakers. They only provide lessons in a private format but they don’t charge extra for additional people in the lesson. The Furano International Snowsports School Office is located on the top floor of the Kitanomine Gondola building but they run lessons from either side of the resort.
Furano Ski Hire and Snowboard Rentals
There are various Furano ski and snowboard rental shops located at or near the ski area. The New Furano Prince Hotel has a few rental shops, there’s a small shop in the Furano Ropeway building (Sportpia), another in the Kitanomine gondola building, and Sportpia has another shop near the base of the gondola station. The opening hours for these shops are generally 8:30am to 9pm. These Furano ski rental shops cater well to beginners and intermediate riders.
If you’re looking to rent demo equipment or some fat skis to rip up that deep powder, you might have to scratch around a little bit. The rental shops generally have a few pairs of powder skis but for fatties or backcountry rental gear (beacons, probes, shovels, avalung back packs) your best bet is to head to the Furano Alpine Backcountry Rental Shop. And if you want to rent BCA airbag backpacks or get your BCA compressed air tanks refilled, this is the place to head. The shop is located towards the top of the main street at Kitanomine. They also provide equipment delivery to Asahikawa, Asahidake, Tokachi, Kurodake and Tomamu.
Eating On Mountain
On the hill there are a handful of eateries available. There is one restaurant at the top of the ropeway and two at the base of the ropeway, with Japanese cuisine downstairs and Chinese cuisine upstairs. The Chinese restaurant left us wondering what the difference was between Japanese and Chinese, with similar fare available at both!
If you’ve burned plenty of calories skiing, we highly recommend the bakery next to the New Furano Prince Hotel (Prince Bakery Pan Kobo). They have lots of rolls and buns created in an array of tempting ways. Yummy!
Furano is established enough to have some access to the all important yen, with international ATMs with commands in English. These are at the post office in Furano town and at the 7-Eleven in Kitanomine on the main street, just down the hill from the no. 13. There are also another couple of 7-Elevens in Furano.
Credit cards are accepted for lift ticket purchases, but many restaurants and bars only accept cash.
Activities & Things to do
Furano Backcountry Skiing
The Tokachidake area (about an hour drive away) has three main areas for backcountry skiing with Mt Tokachi, Furano-dake and the Three Step Mountain. If you like to earn your turns, this area offers Remarkable (note the capital R!) backcountry skiing and boarding! The reddy-brown outdoor onsen at the Ryounkaku ryokan at Tokachidake is also pretty legendary and offers some spectacular views.
A good spot for inclement weather days is the Take Noro Yama backcountry area near Minami Furano. This goes up to approximately 1,200 metres in the sub-alpine and offers a vertical drop of about 700 metres. Some parts are reasonably mellow whilst there are also some steep treed pitches in the mid-section of the hill.
Ashibetsudake is another popular Furano backcountry skiing destination.
WhiteRoom Tours offer private backcountry guiding from Furano to Tokachidake and Kurodake, and also to the areas around the Furano Ski Resort such as Furano-nishi-dake.
Head to Waku Waku Family Snowland where they offer a plethora of activities including snow rafting, snowmobiling, banana boating, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, and sledding.
There is also a kids play area near the Kitanomine gondola.
Furano Snowmobiling is a popular Furano activity. There are about four different companies that offer snowmobiling, with variability in the length of the trail ride, the power of the snowmobiles, and of course the cost.
Other options for a bit of excitement include tree climbing (!!), snowshoe trekking, horse riding, hot air ballooning, and parasailing behind a snowmobile if you really want to freeze your butt off.
Or to really freeze your bits, you can try ice hole fishing.
Other leisure options include a visit to the cheese factory or wine tasting at the winery which has surprisingly good wine. Wandering around the quaint town of Furano is also enjoyable. The Asahiyama Zoo near Asahikawa is an interesting visit, where you can see super cute penguins, seals and polar bears. There are convenient shuttle buses to get between Furano and the zoo.
For indoor activities, there are various touristy cultural activities such as Japanese tea ceremonies and dressing up in a kimono.
For complete relaxation you should partake in the Japanese tradition of an onsen. A few of the Furano hotels and pensions have simple onsen. Otherwise there are various onsen tours to nearby areas that can be organised through Furano Tourism. Examples include the red-brown onsen at Ryounkaku (at Tokachidake) and the nearby Fukiage Onsen, or the Hakuginsou Hot Spring Centre (40 mins one way). Alternatively you can have an onsen at Tokachidake or Asahidake Onsen at the end of a ski day.
Sights & Landmarks
Furano's main attractions are outdoors, though there are a few other options.
- Furano Cheese Factory (富良野チーズ工房 Furano Chizu Kobo), 字中５区 (Near the New Furano Prince Hotel.), , e-mail: [email protected]. Apr-Oct 9AM-5PM, Nov-Mar 9AM-4PM. This factory and small museum was built in the 1980s. You can see the cheese getting produced downstairs, while upstairs you can buy from the shop. A specialty item is the cuttlefish ink cheese, Camembert-style with white mold and black cream colored by cuttlefish ink. If you have time, a hands-on project — making cheese or ice cream — could be fun. Tours are free; workshop prices vary.
- Furano Winery (3 km from Furano Station.), . Watch the bottling of wines, sample the locally made wines, and buy bottles to take home.
- Kami-Furano Pioneer Memorial Museum (上富良野町開拓記念館 Kamifurano-cho kaitaku kinenkan), North 28, West 3, Kami-Furano (On the east side of Highway 291, 200m S of the junction with Highway 237.), . May, Jun, Sep, Oct Sa-Su 9AM-4PM; Jul-Aug Tu-Su 9AM-4PM. This small museum is dedicated to the history of Kami-Furano, the northern part of the greater Furano area. There are photos of (locally) famous people and of volcanic eruptions that impacted the region in the last century. The garden outside has lavendar and other flowers, and also some shaded picnic tables. Free.
In Furano area, there are many flower farms and tourist flower gardens. The best time to see is around July.
- Farm Tomita (ファーム富田), KisenKita-15gō, Nakafurano (中富良野町基線北15号) (Near the "Rabendā Batake" train station), . 24h. Fields of lavender and other flowers. Pioneer of flower gardens in Furano area. Free.
- Nakafurano Town Ownership Lavender Garden (中富良野町町営ラベンダー園 (Nakafurano chōei labendā-en)), 41-1 Miyamachi, Nakafurano (中富良野町宮町1番41号) (600m from Nakafurano Station). 24h. Located in the slopes of Mount Hokusei, a small mountain. The chair lift to the mountaintop passes over the flower garden. Admission free. Chair lift round trip ¥300.
- Kan'no Farm (かんのファーム), Bibaushi-tōge Kamifurano (上富良野町美馬牛峠) (700m from Bibaushi Station), . Fields of many species flowers. Free.
Restaurants & Nightlife
The Furano ski resort (both the Furano side and the Kitanomine village) and the nearby town of Furano have many restaurants and a few bars.
The Furano resort and the town combined have about 100 eateries, with many more of the restaurants situated in town. There are lots of Japanese restaurants where you can get a feel of the “real” Japan. Don’t despair though if you’re not fluent in Japanese. Most of the Furano restaurants have English menus or picture menus; otherwise the staff are happy if you just use sign language and a few common Japanese food terms.
Most of the Furano restaurants have Japanese fare on offer. You can take your pick from a diverse range of food including sushi, noodle bars, izakaya snacks, Mongolian BBQs and curries. You’ll also find a little Western style food in the form of pizza and pasta.
One gorgeous restaurant is Robarta in Suzuran Dori (a little alley in town with various cute izakayas). The décor is delightfully traditionally as are the staff who don’t speak English and there are no English menus. They heat up your atsukan (warm sake) on the fire in a kettle, and the owner even adds up your bill on an abacus – this is a major step back in time!
In Kitanomine, Yama no Doxon (Furano Brewery) is a winner for dinner. It’s a pretty cool old building with big log posts and wooden floors, and you can sit on the floor at the massive tables in the big room, or sit at high tables in a couple of other rooms. The English menu covers a range of Japanese and western items, and of course it seems apt to taste the local brew as well.
If you’re a meat lover, head to Lamb Genghis Khan at Tirol in Kitanomine where you can cook your own food at your table. This place lacks a little charm but the English speaking staff are incredibly friendly.
There are a handful of restaurants within the New Furano Prince Hotel including a sushi restaurant and a classic all you can eat buffet, which seems like a quintessential Japanese ski resort experience.
Furano Bars & Nightlife
There is a degree of Furano nightlife, but it’s fairly low key. If you’re looking for vibrant nightlife then Niseko Hirafu will suit your needs much better than Furano.
Après drinking opportunities (ie just after the lifts close) are rather limited. You could head to the WhiteRoom Cafe for a beer or make your own fun with your duty free alcohol or Chu-His from the 7-Eleven or vending machine.
In Kitanomine, the Ajito log cabin bar next to Pension Furanui is worth a visit. This is a little sports bar where you can watch TV and play pool over a few bevvies. They also serve food, although their specialty of Dutch Oven Curry doesn’t sound too appealing!?
The Furano Brewery is also good for bevvies.
Soh’s bar near the New Prince Hotel is a sedate cigar bar ideal for those staying at the New Furano Prince Hotel. The other option is Top of Furano, a quiet wine bar overlooking the night skiing slopes.
There are a few bars and izakayas in Furano town that are small and cosy, with a wine-bar feel to them. For wine lovers, the Furano whites are surprisingly good.
Or visit the Dream House Kingyo, a nice karaoke bar where you don’t have to sit in weird soundproof booths. They have a couple of very dangerous all-you-can-drink party plans!
Furano Ski Shops
Furano has a few ski and board shops in Kitanomine, but they are fairly small with a limited range so you might not necessarily find what you’re looking for. The New Furano Prince Hotel also has a couple of ski shops that mainly focus on basic accessories.
Furano Souvenir Shopping
For souvenirs, there’s an abundance of all things souvenir at the New Furano Prince Hotel, and next to the hotel is the Ningule Terrace craft village. The buildings and the setting are quite picturesque, but most items are trinkets that may not grab your fancy. Thankfully the coffee shop is a quaint place to stop.
The Furano Bussan Centre Souvenir Shop in town is another option.
There are three supermarkets in Furano town, with one large supermarket near the corner of the intersection as you approach Furano town from Kitanomine. As is typical throughout Hokkaido, groceries are very reasonably priced, alcohol is cheap, and there are way too many Japanese snacks to sample.
In Kitanomine, there’s a 7-Eleven to keep you stocked up with snacks, alcohol and sundries. The New Furano Prince Hotel shop also sells basic sundries and toiletries.
If you’ve caught yourself a cold or need some more anti-inflammatories from hitting the slopes too hard, there are various pharmacies in town.