Furano ski resort
Right, not my favorite resort in Japan but I definitely love Furano ski resort very much.
Comparing to other resorts in Hokkaido like niseko (4 zones) and Rusutsu (3 zones), Furano is a rather small and cosy ski resort (only 2 zones! – Kitanomie zone (Mid. Dec – Late Mar) and Furano Zone (Late Nov – Early May). It’s still a large resort by Japan standard.
Why going to Furano?
A typical snowing day in Furano, snow can get to this thick within 2 to 3 hours.
Great Powder Snow – thanks to the location (central Hokkaido area), you can find some really really dry, light and fluffy powder snow in Furano. There may be less snow in Furano than Niseko but then it’s surely enough for you to have some fun, most of the time i stayed there was like this: morning ankle deep, afternoon knee deep! (And this is at the magic carpet area next to the ticket counter area!) Thanks to the location,
Lovely weather, less windy and foggy than Niseko area; more chance for lovely blue sky too!
Less busy. You seldom need to queue up for getting on the chairlifts. I was there once during Christmas; Just waited for around 10 mins by 9:30 am!!!
A typical day in Furano. Blue sky, no windy, plus a empty run filled with powder snow and nobody!
Suitable for all level riders, mogul, off-piste lovers and powder friends, the Furano Ski Resort is quite a all-round resort with ski and snowboard terrain that covers almost everything. The proportion of flat and steep slope is relative low. (not much walking for snowboarders and there would be loads of runs suitable for beginner to intermediate skiers and snowboarders.)
Loads of fun with off piste and tree runs. For advanced and expert skiers, you will have loads of fun with Furano’s backcountry (or sidecountry) skiing and snowboarding as long as you are a powder friend. Furano is also a great place for tree runs since the space between tress is quite wide.
Well planned and considerate chairlift system. It’s like you can always ride down to a chairlift from most of the runs. Not much flat slopes/ uphill at all; and there is no botton lift and T bars( Similar to most of the ski resorts in Japan)! Great news snowboarders right!?
Great for beginner/ someone who wants to practice something new, Furano ski resort is probably one of your best choice if you are trying to learn or just learned something n needs loads of practice; Coz it doesnt hurt at all when you fall down on the very thick and fluffy powder snow!! The feeling was like “Jumping into a swimming pool filled with feathers“, according to one of my 6 years old students.
English speaking family friendly ski resort is how i will describe Furano, well… Chinese is getting more and more popular now, too. (There’s a chinese ski school just established by 2017-2018 winter season) It’s a resort you can find both English, Japanese and Chinese Speaking ski class (both kids and adult) and kids care there. (Yes, it’s a pity that some ski resorts only offer Japanese ski lessons.)
Free ski lift pass to child 12 and under! Think about all your kids are under 12 – that’s really some money! Can you feel how hard Furano is doing to attach family group customer!?
Great quality ski/ snowboard rentals are available at the bottom part of both Kitanomie Zone and Furano Zone. Havent rented one by myself but just looking at my students/ friends gears – quite new and well maintained! If you are staying at Furano Prince Hotel/ Furano New Prince hotels, you can just rent your gear at your hotel.
Great After Ski Activites
So we have covered almost everything about skiing/ snowboarding in Furano, what about after-ski activities?
Eating in Furano
Super duper tasty food. All meals I had were nice, it’s just about “nice…? very nice? or very very nice?”
Within the ski in ski out area, you can find some great quality dinning option but limited choices. And during the peak season most of these restaurants are normally all full and you always have to make a booking, for sure almost all hotels are providing catering services. But then what if you are that type of person prefers to try different restaurant and bars just like me?
The shuttle buses running between Furano ski resorts to Furano city center would save your empty stomach.
Just go to Furano city centre and you can find many dinning options there. We had Japanese BBQ, Hot pot, typical Japanese cuisine during our stay – all tasted great! Well, cheaper than Niskeo too.
Large scale supermarket and Drugs store (Japanese drugs store sells loads of things other that drugs like cosmetic products, food and drinks…etc) are all within walking distance.
Hotels and Accommodation in Furano
You can find accommodation at all range in Furano ski resort and surrounding area. Most of them are hotels and pensions, plus a few options of apartments and houses. There may be less luxury, high end accommodation in Furano than in Niseko, but the available options are comfortable enough for you to enjoy a great skiing hoilday there.
Fuano Prince Hotel, one of the ski in ski out hotel options
If you cant book for a ski in ski out hotel (or may be it’s just too expensive?), the great shuttle bus system makes it really easy for you to get to the resort from the hotel. Even taking a taxi is not too expensive too.
Once my friend had her waist twisted and I have to return her snowboard from our hotel right next to the Furano train station to the rental shop locating at the bottom part of Kitanomie zone, i paid 1500 yen for the taxi fare.
Furano ski resort is one of the place I consider as not much difference between staying in a ski in ski out hotel/ even better to staying in a city center hotel.
Here are the reasons (Subject to the condition that there are all adults in your group.):
Furano ski resort is really close to city center, like 10 mins ride by shuttle bus?
It’s always easier for me to take the shuttle bus to ski resort from the hotel in the morning coz I am most energetic and exciting. But then by evening time? After skiing for 5 hours… plus onsen (hot spring) … some drinks… n chill out a bit…. still gotta take the bus to go grab some food seems a bit too tiring for me.
If you are with kids? ski in ski out hotels are probably your best choice – unless you are going to rent a car.
So now we’ve touched the topic about a car – is it a good idea to rent a car?
DO NOT Rent a car if you have never been driving on snow before. It’s totally different from driving on a normal road, plus Hokkaido Snow is 3 times more difficult than other snow field. it’s so thick and powder – sometimes with really bad visibility. I witnessed several accidents during my stay in Hokkaido. But then for sure it’s always so much more convenient to have a car. So if you really want to rent a car? Make sure to bring along a good and experienced driver.
Activities other than skiing in Furano during Winter
What about rest day activities? When you are tired with skiing/ snowboarding, there are varies of activities for your to choose, like snow mobile touring, snow shoes touring, snow tubing, ice hole fishing, dog sledding, hot air balloon sight seeing…
Furano snow festival. Check for the dates of festivals or special events before you plan your trip. If you are lucky enough to go there during their snow festival, it’s very nice free experience! There would be fireworks, performance, games and outdoor bazaar… Sometimes they offer free sake (Japanese rice wine) to everybody!
How to go to Furano
There are public transportation going to Furano ski resorts from both Asahikawa airport, sapporo airport and sapporo city. For more details, you can check out the offical website of Furano ski resort via here.
Since most of the foreign skiers and snowboarders going to Furano ski resort are landed in Sapporo New Chitose Airport, we will just focus in talking about the transportation between Sapporo and Furano.
Skiers can take both train and bus to Furano from Sapporo airport and Sapporo city.
The best way to go to Furano is by bus!! (personal experience…)
Here are the reasons:
there is no express train going to Furano station, it’s all local train. Sometimes, taking the train is even slower than taking the bus…
Furano station is a rather small station and there is no stairs… so basically with all you gears and luggages… you gotta carry them all the way up to the connection bridge between platforms… and then carry them all the way down to the exit of station.
The first time I went toFurano station was by train, we were the only 2 passenger upon arrival; with 3 huge luggages and 1 snowboard bag… looking at that 30 steps stairway… Hopeless was my only feeling…
Luckily we met a very nice train driver, although he looked like he was by his mid 60s… and yet he still offered to help us carrying our luggage up!!! (How can you not love japan? People are just so nice!!) But then for sure we cant expect there’s always a sweet driver there to help us. So… if you are with loads of luggage n ski/ snowboard gears like I do? Trains may be your Plan B unless you are looking from some weight lifting exercise.
And both buses from Sapporo airport and city are direct bus, no transit, less trouble.
But for sure there are some reasons that we should take the train too:
You have JR Hokkaido Pass! So it’s FREE for you to take the train!!!
There is less time limit for taking the train than by bus. If you miss the last bus going to Furano ski resort from Sapporo airport, you can always take the train.
Who should go to Furano for skiing?
First ski trip to Japan? Furano is probably one of the best ski resort in Japan you should go. It’s just so easy, easy to access (direct bus from the airport!) and easy to find everything you want (coz English is quite popular there!); Furano is the place you can experience the most famous Japan “champagne powder snow“. And it’s cheaper than Niseko!
Going with your family? Also a great choice! Remember the English speaking kids school and kids care plus the free lift pass for kids?
Powder lover? Definitely!!!!
Who shouldn’t go to Furano for skiing
Freestyles riders who needs loads of park facilities. There is just 1 to 2 park facilities in Furano so honestly, it’s just not attractive.
Carving riding who loves to see their clear carve lines… coz with the powder snow the ground is just too soft for you to do that at all.
Right… so here’ all I can think of about Furano…. if you have any questions about going to Furano, you are welcome to ask me.
And please do bear with me if my English is not so good… I am not a native English speaker… all I am good at is snowing… skiing… travelling… having fun… eating and drinking… I accept comments with polite and nice manners, I dont like wars at all…
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