Furano Ski Resort
Copious amounts of light dry powder snow combined with soaring peaks, one of the longest vertical drops in Japan and easily accessible off piste have made Furano as popular with lovers of deep powder as it has with those who like extra-long groomed cruisers. Located near Daisetsu-zan National Park in central Hokkaido, Furano generally receives more sunny days than its counterparts in the island’s west, more than 8 metres of snow a year with a season running from late November and often into early May.
Furano is also enormously popular for ski touring due to being within an hour’s drive or so from many of Hokkaido’s most famous backcountry hotspots such as Tokachi and Asahidake. Several excellent ski touring companies are based in Furano with tours geared for beginners through to the advanced, and backcountry equipment for rent.
Furano Ski Resort offers two main areas: the Furano Zone which is home to the New Prince Hotel at the base and its adjacent network of shops, attractions and eateries neatly landscaped into the forest; and the Kitanomine base area and village. The city of Furano a few minutes beyond has a population of over 20,000 and all the expected good dining, shopping and opportunities to soak up Japanese culture.
As one of Hokkaido’s leading ski areas, Furano is famous for a long-standing relationship with the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup and regularly holds the mid-February Snowboarding World Cup.
As the areas are all a few minute’s drive apart, a public bus service called Lavender runs from New Furano Prince Hotel via the Kitanomine resort area and then into downtown Furano. Taxis are also available as well as a night Resort Shuttle Bus from New Furano Prince Hotel to downtown Furano via Kitanomine.
The largest and most popular place to stay is the New Furano Prince Hotel at the base of the Furano ski area. Getting to the slopes for its guests is effortless. Breakfast is served in the hotel’s enormous main banquet hall which cuts the risk of morning rush-hour queues to virtually nil. The expansive ski room also has plenty of room to move, with a ski shop and a ski school desk alongside. The ski room’s automatic doors open straight out onto the snow where just steps away is Furano Ropeway, Japan’s fastest gondola, whisking riders right to the top of the mountain and the double chair which accesses its highest point. I
Inside the New Furano Prince Hotel is 5 restaurants, bars, an onsen, a kids play area and arcade, a well-stocked convenience style with everything from quality gifts to a wide range of foods. There is a family and children’s play area outside in the forest. Rooms and suites can sleep up to 4 people.
Kitanomine has a village atmosphere, its streets lined with shops, ski companies, bars and restaurants along with hotels, pensions and western-style self-contained condominiums. It is also where you will find the first Furano Prince Hotel, with affordable ski-in ski-out accommodation and smaller simpler style rooms than the newer version. Buffet meals are available.
Furano Mountain & Ski Terrain
Furano’s two ski areas, Kitanomine and Furano, span 480 acres (194 hectares), with 23 trails serviced by 11 lifts and a vertical drop of about 3000 vertical feet (950 metres). One ski pass accesses all. Furano is easily one of the steepest mountains in Hokkaido – the longest run is almost 3 miles (4.8 kilometres). Furano can be particularly snowy – ; rugging up here is imperative. One of Furano’s claims to fame is having Japan’s fastest cable car that lifts 101 skiers at 10 metres per second, a welcome addition given the size of the ski hill and the region’s often chilly climate.
Furano has an abundance of varied terrain for every level of skier and snowboarder, with a 40/40/20 split between beginner, intermediate and advanced. Children up to the age of 12 are covered in Furano’s Kids Ski Free program.
The tree runs here are fantastic. Simply obey the signs and enter through access points to find some truly deep powder shots that will live in the memory for a long time, if not a lifetime. Off-piste tip: a short traverse and mini-hike leads to seriously good terrain in the valley between the peak and the resort.
When it comes to groomed runs, Furano’s steep slopes and excellent fall lines mean it is possible to ski virtually the resort’s entire vertical at a decent pitch. An early lap down the Furano Zone ropeway is a good way to warm up in the morning. These quality slopes have made the resort a favourite for FIS Ski World Cup competitions, and Furano has hosted the Ski and Snowboard World Cup on more occasions than anywhere else in Japan.
Beginners are catered for at both the top and bottom of the mountain: the base areas of both sides of the mountain have wide gentle runs 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.
The resort’s highest points offer panoramic views of the Furano Valley and Tokachi Peak Mountain Range.
|Skiable Terrain||469.5 acres (190 hectares)|
|Vertical||964 m (3,163 ft)|
|Top Elevation||1,209 m (3,967 ft)|
|Base Elevation||245 m (804 ft)|
|Average Snowfall||850 cm (334in/ 27 ft)|
|Winter lifts Total||11|
|Longest Run||4 km (2.5 mi)|
How To Get To Furano
The Resort Liner bus is the fastest and easiest way, and from New Chitose Airport takes about 2.5 hours. It is also possible to take the train from New Chitose Airport, a 3 hour trip. From Asahikawa, the bus ride takes 1.5 hours. Bus transfers can also be arranged between Niseko and Furano, and Prince Hotel guests have a free shuttle available to Sapporo from mid-December to late March.
Furano Snowsports & Ski School
Furano has two ski schools – the Kiminobu Kimura Ski School located in Furano and the Furano Ski School located in Kitanomine. English speaking instructors will be available and all are certified.
Kojima Academy Kids Park is the place where your tiny tots can be entertained all day and fed nutritious meals and snacks while you ski. Pick up service is available at the hotels and ski areas in Furano.
Furano Things To Do, Activities and Tours
In the forest adjacent The New Furano Prince Hotel is the Waku Waku Family Snowland with such snow activities as snow rafting, snowmobiling, parasailing and dog sledding.
Around Furano, the New Furano Cheese Factory (Furano Cheese Kōbō) and Furano Winery are fun places to visit. At the cheese factory, visitors can watch the process of making the area’s famous camembert and try samples. A must-try is Furano’s renowned black cheese colored by squid ink. Also attached to the cheese factory is the ice cream and pizza factories where visitors can join hands-on workshops for learning how to make butter, ice cream, bread and cheese.
Furano Winery is located on a hill overlooking town and wine tasting is free.
Furano Restaurants, Bars & Nightlife
Furano city has around 70 restaurants and bars, the Kitanomine base area about 15 eateries and nightspots while the New Furano Prince Hotel has a range of places to eat and drink both inside and outside in the forest. Its Top Of Furano lounge bar is an elegant place for a cocktail pre or post dinner, the Bakery outside serves traditional and Western cakes and pastries, and Ramen Corner is the noodle restaurant for a hot lunch at the base of the Furano Ropeway gondola.
Soh’s Bar “for miserable smokers” is a late-night spot serving fondues, snacks and cocktails in a whimsical log and stone building found at the end of the winding network of snow-covered forest trails beside The New Furano Prince. Also on this trail network is quaint Cafe Mori-no-Tokei where authentic Japanese curries and patisserie-style cakes are on the menu along with a range of teas and coffees.
In Kitanomine, good places for hearty meals are The Brewery and The Country Kitchen. Bar Ajita is a lively popular sports bar for both apres ski and late night frivolity. It has a fun atmosphere, wooden floors, a pool table, large TV screens, and plenty of choice behind the bar.
On-mountain, the Downhill Restaurant atop the Furano Ropeway is popular for warming meals via a ticket system: punch your choice into the vending machine by the door, take a ticket and present it at the kitchen counter. There are also large cafeterias and other eating options in and around the Kitanomine Terminal.
Location: 12-33 Hinodemachi, Furano
Food: Traditional Japanese
Phone: +81 167-23-4776
Yama no Doxon
Location: Kitanomine-chou 20-29
Food: Japanese cuisine/it is the home of famous “Furano Beer”
Bar: Yes beer only
Phone: +81 0167-22-5599
Tani Genghis Khan
Location: 2-12 Hanazonocho
Food: Japanese, Mongolian cuisine
Phone: +81 167-22-4365
Location: Kitanominecho, 19−10
Phone: +81 80-4509-3857
Ajito Bar & Dining
Location: 13-13 Kitanominecho
Food: Japanese, European cuisine
Phone: +81 167-22-4022
Location: Naka Goryo
Food: Japanese cuisine
Phone: +81 167-22-1111
Dream House Kingyo
Location: Maruhachi Satou biru
Food: Japanese cuisine
Phone: +81 0167-22-3956
For cute souvenirs you cannot go past The Ningle Terrace area adjacent New Furano Prince Hotel. The collection of stores housed in cute little log cabins sell genuine arts and crafts from candles to handmade paper and other collectibles. Kitanomine has a few basic ski shops. Furano city offers grocery stores, shopping malls and all services.
New Furano Prince Hotel Shop
Location: Lobby floor
Shop: wide variety of goods, including local specialties
Location: near the New Furano Prince Hotel
Shop: souvenir shop
Phone: +81 167-22-1111
7-Eleven Kitanomine Shop
Location: Kitanomine-chou 4-67, Furano-shi
Shop: food, drinks
Phone: +81 0167-22-3188