Resort Scorecard

Snowsure


Beginners


Intermediate


Advanced


Snowboarders


Après Ski


Families


Base elevation: 245 metres

Top elevation: 1,209 metres

Number of lifts: 11

Number of runs: 23

Access: Fly in to Sapporo Chitose Airport and then it's two and half hours by coach. Asahikawa Airport is closer, with a one and half hour coach transfer.

Sandwiched between the dramatic Tokachi and Yuubari Mountains, right at the heart of Hokkaido island, Furano Valley is a particular favourite of the Japanese thanks to the fantastic skiing, and tasty local cuisine. Here, as far from the coast as it gets, the climate is a little gentler, blessing Furano with crisp, clear days ideal for making the most of Hokkaido’s delectable snow.

If talk of powder like clouds has piqued your interest but you’re unconvinced by Westerners’ Mecca Niseko or insular Rusutsu, Furano could be just the ticket. As well as excellent skiing, Furano ‘city’ down the road – really a small, quaint town – is accessible and pleasing in its authenticity, allowing you to absorb the true essence of Japan in your time out; whether it’s browsing galleries, taking tea at a traditional ceremony or sampling the region’s famous produce alongside the locals.

Accommodation is good value in Furano, and the whole place provides a window into Japanese culture without being alienating. The resort is easily accessed from Sapporo airport and is easily combinable with other smaller resorts in the region.

Skiing in Furano

With fluffy powder, sunny days, fast no-nonsense lifts and uncrowded runs - many of which are open until 8.30pm - how could you not love Furano? We recommend starting with the complimentary welcome tour which runs each morning. Furano Valley is renowned for well-groomed sweepers, so cruisers of all abilities will be laughing; but that’s not to take away from the categorically excellent advanced skiing in the form of tree runs, eye-watering vertical, and fantastic guided powder-hunting in the off-limits for most backcountry - Furano always has one eye firmly fixed on safety, so going it alone just isn’t the done thing. You'll need to book a tour to head off-piste.

There are two main ski zones – Furano and Kitanomine – connected by a run and lift, as well as Mount Asahidake, Tomamu and Kamui nearby.

Both Furano and Kitanomine offer something for beginners, with wide gentle runs at their bases and two excellent ski schools with English-speaking instructors. There’s also the chance to get up higher and ski mellow courses from the top of the Furano Cable Car.

There’s plenty of choice across the two resorts, and the snow quality is up there with the best, allowing ample time for honing your carving technique. Furano’s pleasurable long, wide courses vary from gentle to precipitous, meaning lots of options and something new around every corner. The World Cup Downhill course provides the ultimate challenge.

Furano isn’t a place where you’ll find hours of fun on super-steeps, chutes and drop-offs; we’d make for Kumaotoshi from the top of Kitanomine gondola and The Challenge course in the Furano zone for un-groomed terrain and moguls if staying in-resort.

Powder can be knee, waist or neck high in Furano – and that’s the greatest test, especially if you head out of Furano into the backcountry in Tokachidake, Asahidake or Kamui with a guide.

You might gaze off-piste and be tempted to go exploring, but be warned: most clearings are the result of avalanches, and Furano’s officials are seriously strict about breaking the rules – especially above the Furano Gondola which leaves those below at risk. Don't do it.

Instead, the backcountry in easy-to-reach neighbouring resorts is where it’s at. Qualified guides can take you to Noro Yama, Furano-drake, Mount Tokachi, Ashibetsudake, Kamui Ski Links or Three Step Mountain, where various challenges await, from softer slopes to tight tree runs and long, steep vertical. Your best option is Asahidake – without doubt one of the best powder stashes in the world.

Broad runs groomed to perfection make boarding a breeze - particularly in Furano’s Speise C and Sailor C, and on the courses that run from Swift Lift 1 in Kitanomine. You’ll no doubt be inclined to glide off piste, but you do so at your peril: the patrollers are pretty hot on following the rules. Instead, try the un-groomed and steeper pistes, head out into the backcountry on a guided tour or test yourself on Prince C’s halfpipe (the ‘terrain park’ is hardly worth mentioning..).

Great news! Children under the age of 12 ski for free in Furano, and both bases have ski schools with English-speaking staff. Childcare is available at Kojima Academy opposite the Kitanomine Gondola for children under five (pre-booking is advisable). The academy picks up from several hotels, and can include a private ski lesson as part of the childcare on request – ideal if your young ones aren’t quite ready for a full day just yet.

One of the things we enjoy most about Furano is the world that awaits after the slopes have closed. Be sure to pay a visit to the best onsen in town at New Furano Prince Hotel, and take a walk through the woods to explore the delightful little cabins exhibiting local art. In peak season, Furano comes alive with local performance groups and the annual ice festival, which features an ice café and numerous sculptures.

Between the ski bases and the city, you’ll get a real flavour of Japan: there are traditional izakayas serving local wine and informal tapas-style food; restaurants offering kaiseki (course after course of light-as-a-feather fare); and lots in between, including sushi, noodles, Mongolian barbecue and the odd Western favourite. You can usually get by with a few basic Japanese words and phrases; failing that, pick somewhere with a picture menu!

Both Furano and Kitanomine offer something for beginners, with wide gentle runs at their bases and two excellent ski schools with English-speaking instructors. There’s also the chance to get up higher and ski mellow courses from the top of the Furano Cable Car.

There’s plenty of choice across the two resorts, and the snow quality is up there with the best, allowing ample time for honing your carving technique. Furano’s pleasurable long, wide courses vary from gentle to precipitous, meaning lots of options and something new around every corner. The World Cup Downhill course provides the ultimate challenge.

Furano isn’t a place where you’ll find hours of fun on super-steeps, chutes and drop-offs; we’d make for Kumaotoshi from the top of Kitanomine gondola and The Challenge course in the Furano zone for un-groomed terrain and moguls if staying in-resort.

Powder can be knee, waist or neck high in Furano – and that’s the greatest test, especially if you head out of Furano into the backcountry in Tokachidake, Asahidake or Kamui with a guide.

You might gaze off-piste and be tempted to go exploring, but be warned: most clearings are the result of avalanches, and Furano’s officials are seriously strict about breaking the rules – especially above the Furano Gondola which leaves those below at risk. Don't do it.

Instead, the backcountry in easy-to-reach neighbouring resorts is where it’s at. Qualified guides can take you to Noro Yama, Furano-drake, Mount Tokachi, Ashibetsudake, Kamui Ski Links or Three Step Mountain, where various challenges await, from softer slopes to tight tree runs and long, steep vertical. Your best option is Asahidake – without doubt one of the best powder stashes in the world.

Broad runs groomed to perfection make boarding a breeze - particularly in Furano’s Speise C and Sailor C, and on the courses that run from Swift Lift 1 in Kitanomine. You’ll no doubt be inclined to glide off piste, but you do so at your peril: the patrollers are pretty hot on following the rules. Instead, try the un-groomed and steeper pistes, head out into the backcountry on a guided tour or test yourself on Prince C’s halfpipe (the ‘terrain park’ is hardly worth mentioning..).

Great news! Children under the age of 12 ski for free in Furano, and both bases have ski schools with English-speaking staff. Childcare is available at Kojima Academy opposite the Kitanomine Gondola for children under five (pre-booking is advisable). The academy picks up from several hotels, and can include a private ski lesson as part of the childcare on request – ideal if your young ones aren’t quite ready for a full day just yet.

One of the things we enjoy most about Furano is the world that awaits after the slopes have closed. Be sure to pay a visit to the best onsen in town at New Furano Prince Hotel, and take a walk through the woods to explore the delightful little cabins exhibiting local art. In peak season, Furano comes alive with local performance groups and the annual ice festival, which features an ice café and numerous sculptures.

Between the ski bases and the city, you’ll get a real flavour of Japan: there are traditional izakayas serving local wine and informal tapas-style food; restaurants offering kaiseki (course after course of light-as-a-feather fare); and lots in between, including sushi, noodles, Mongolian barbecue and the odd Western favourite. You can usually get by with a few basic Japanese words and phrases; failing that, pick somewhere with a picture menu!

Getting There

Having connected through Tokyo (probably), you'll arrive at Sapporo Chitose Airport, and from here the journey takes almost three hours by coach. The Hokkaido Resort Liner runs several times a day and stops at the major hotels - we'll make the reservations. Alternatively, a private taxi (for up to ten people) can be arranged.

If you fancy travelling to Furano by train from Chitose Airport, you’ll first need to get to Sapporo, and then change again at either Takikawa or Asahikawa en route.

Even more convenient, but not always possible as flights are less frequent, you could connect through Tokyo to Asahikawa City instead. From there the journey to Furano will take around an hour and a half by Lavender Go coach. Again private and shared taxis can be arranged.

You can also hire a car if you prefer. The journey from Sapporo Chitose will take about two and a half to three hours if using the toll roads.

Resort Scorecard

Snowsure


Beginners


Intermediate


Advanced


Snowboarders


Après Ski


Families


Base elevation: 245 metres

Top elevation: 1,209 metres

Number of lifts: 11

Number of runs: 23

Access: Fly in to Sapporo Chitose Airport and then it's two and half hours by coach. Asahikawa Airport is closer, with a one and half hour coach transfer.