As a snowboarder from Asia, I’ve been to many ski resorts in Japan. Furano Ski Resort is one of my favorites because of the great quality powder snow, popularity of English, and tasty food.
Furano is divided into two zones: Kitanomine and Furano Zone (operating from late November to late March). Furano may be a bit small while comparing to other Hokkaido ski resorts like Niseko (4 zones) and Rusutsu (3 zones), it’s still considered as pretty big in terms of Japan standard.
So, are you going to Furano Ski Resort for snowboarding? If so, check out the guide below as I’m going to share everything you need to know about this resort including best season, accommodation, transportation, trip planning tips, and more.
First off, here’s a map of the Furano Ski Area (made in the 2017-2018 season):
As for real-time snow reports, you can visit this webpage for more. It will you key information such as weather, temperature, base depth, snow type, ski area operation, road, conditions, etc.
Why I Love Furano Ski Resort?
Furano is really a great place for skiers and snowboarders. There are a couple of things I especially like about this ski resort, based on the point of view as a snowboarder.
1. Thick and high-quality powder snow
Furano is a great place for all powder lovers, sometimes I found the word “Champagne powder” is just not enough to describe that fluffy, light powder snow in Furano. “Extra dry” is how I would think of while describing Furano’s powder snow, thanks to its central Hokkaido location.
Sometimes I heard comments like “there is less snowfall in Furano than Niseko”, well… maybe? But it didn’t really bother me at all because honestly I think this is the optimum amount. You can easily find ankle deep powder snow at the bottom of the mountain in early morning, and in my experience there is always more snowfall in the afternoon than in the morning.
2. Sunny and calm weather
How can you complain if you can enjoy both feather-like powder snow and lovely blue sky with high visibility at the same time? And this is what you are very likely to find in Furano!
3. Less traffic
It’s not exaggerating to say that Furano is at least 50% less busy while comparing to Niseko and Rusutsu. There are no lines for chairlifts most of the time!
4. Easy day trips to other resorts
Both Tomamu Hoshino Resorts and Kamui Ski Links are within 90 minutes away by ride and they offer great quality of powder snow too. As long as you have a group of four, and you are good to go.
5. Super duper family friendly
Furano offers FREE ski lift pass to child aged 12 or under! Think about it, if you have a family of 3 kids and all of them are under 12, you have saved just so much. Plus, they have English speaking ski and snowboarding schools and offer kids care services! Yup, sadly English is not very popular in many Japan ski resorts.
6. Great rentals
As a snowboarding instructor, I have many students once rented gears from the rental shop underneath of Kitanomine Zone, very well maintained gears, and in fact, quite new too! If you are staying at Furano Prince Hotel/Furano New Prince hotels, rental shops are just downstairs and I guess you should be entitled to some discount though.
Who Should Go to Furano for Snowboarding?
Well, almost all level of riders will fall in love with Furano Ski Resort except:
- Carving fans who want to see their nice clean line of turns, because the snow is just too soft and too much for you to do this most of the time.
- Freestyle riders who need a lot of park facilities, because there are almost no artificial built park facilities there.
Other than these two types of snowboarders, you will found Furano a very nice resort since it is quite all-rounded and well designed.
For beginner to intermediate snowboarders, this is really your resort. There aren’t many too-flat or too-steep slopes, almost all terrains are well designed that you can just slide from top of the mountain to right exactly next to the chairlift. There aisn’t much flat slope walking either, nothing too scary, so it’s great for practicing and learning. Also, the soft and fluffy snow makes your fall doesn’t hurt at all! So, if you are learning something new and needs lots of practice, go to Furano!
For advanced riders and experts, you will fall in love with their off piste and tree runs since Furano is very famous for their sidecountry/slackcountry/backcountry.
Tips: Sidecountry or slackcountry means easy accessible backcountry from a resort. Consider it as a beginner version of backcountry.
Furano is also a great place for you to start doing tree runs. The space between trees is wide enough for you to practice your skills and have fun at the same time.
Food, Accommodation, and Transportation
Furano has really amazing food! Hot pot, BBQ, curry, Japanese soup noodles, sushi (both from restaurant and a supermarket), or you can just simply order a dish from their a la carte menu…all of them are “yummy, very yummy, or super duper yummy!”
The restaurants near the ski-in/ski-out area are often full without reservation during peak season, so it may be a good idea for you to just take the shuttle bus and go to the nearby Furano town for more dining out options. Most of the restaurants are nice and cheap comparing to that in Niseko.
Furano city is kinda small and cozy, you can find almost everything you need like supermarket, drugs stores, and convenience store and vending machines are all within walking distance of the train station.
Nice and reasonable accommodation options at all range can be found in Furano. I would say it’s around 10% hostels, 30% pensions, 50% hotels and 10% apartments and houses. Compared to Niseko, there are less high-end, luxury accommodation in Furano. But honestly, for me it’s totally fine. Because at the end of the day, you won’t go too wrong in Japan.
Do bear in mind that Furano is a rather westernized city, you can hardly find a nice ryokan (Traditional Japanese style hotels) within the area. So if you are planning to experience something really “traditional Japanese”, Furano may not be your cup of tea.
But then, we are talking about Snowboarding Holiday Destination right!? Western-style room = Real Bed!!! = Comfortable!! = Quality sleep = Energetic morning for snowboarding!!! Yay!!
Tips: Don’t be stressed if you can not book a ski-in/ski-out hotel, maybe it’s all full or maybe it’s just simply too expensive. Furano is an area I would actually prefer to stay in a hotel that’s farther away from the ski resort.
The reason is quite simple: the ski resort is just about 10 mins by bus away from the city while most restaurants are located in downtown area. I don’t mind having dinner inside the hotel but I definitely prefer to visit different restaurants and bars. I know, you may be tired after snowboarding whole day and don’t want to take that bus tour. But you would be exhausted after all those post snowboarding showers, onsen plus few drinks and dinner. A hotel within walking distance of the restaurant would save my evening.
What if you are really tired after riding? Just take a taxi, it’s not that expensive. Once I took a taxi to Kitanomine zone rental shop from my hotel next to the Furano train station, well… my friend was injured so she couldn’t return the snowboard by herself. It cost me 1200 yen in total.
So now we know Furano offers great food and easy transportation, next thing I want to talk about is their amazing rest day activities like dog sledding, hot air balloon sightseeing, ice hole fishing, Ningle Terrace, snowmobile touring, snow tubing, or even onsen touring…etc.
Tips: Make sure you check for the dates of Furano Snow Festivals or special events before you plan your trip. It’s free and super nice! There would be fireworks, performance, games and outdoor bazaar… and they offer free sake (Japanese rice wine) too!
How Can You Go to Furano Ski Resort?
There are buses and trains going to Furano. Both from Sapporo city centre (the largest city in Hokkaido area) and Sapporo New Chitose Airport. The other ways to go to Furano is from Asahikawa City or Asahikawa Airport.
Going to Furano by Bus
Going to Furano from Sapporo airport:
You can take a direct bus to go from Sapporo Airport to Furano starting from December onwards. The bus tour takes around 2.5 – 3 hours, and will stop at major Furano hotels, from ski-in/ski-out area to downtown area. The bus is called “Resort Liner Bus”. You can click here for more info.
A quick sum up for you since this is the most popular way:
- Bus departure time from Sapporo New Chitose Airport Domestic Terminal: 09:30, 10:50, 12:05, 14:00, 15:55, 17:55
Bus departure time from Sapporo New Chitose Airport International Terminal: 14:10, 16:05, 18:05
- Below are the Furano Bus stops:
1) New Furano Prince Hotel
2) North Country
3) Furano Prince Hotel
4) Hotel Naturwald Furano
5) Hotel Bell Hills
6) Furano Resort Hotel Edel Warme
7) Natulux Hotel (Next to Furano JR Station, i.e. Train Station)
Going to Furano from Sapporo city:
What if your flight lands quite late in the afternoon so you miss the last bus from Sapporo airport to Furano? Staying in Sapporo for one evening then take the direct bus from Sapporo to Furano is a good idea.
Bus going from Sapporo station to Furano Station please click here for more information.
This bus stops at Furano JR station, then from Furano Station you can take a taxi or shuttle bus to Furano ski resort.
Bus going from Sapporo Century Royal Hotel to Furano Ski resort please click here.
Going to Furano from Asahikawa Airport:
It takes around 70 – 90 mins for you to go from Asahikawa Airport to Furano Ski Resort, you can check more details here.
Going to Furano from Asahikawa City/ Asahikawa Zoo:
For bus details, please click here.
Going to Furano from other Ski Resorts:
There are buses going from Rusutsu and Tomamu to Furano too, for details, please click here.
Skystation provides Private Door to Door transportation to your hotels from Sapporo Airport, see more here.
Going to Furano by Train
Once you land in New Chitose Airport, you can take a JR going to Sapporo station, then from Sapporo station, you can either go to Furano via Takikawa station or Asahikawa station. Both rides take around 3 hours.
Tips: Please always do consider taking the bus as your first option! Taking the train with all your gears and luggage in the winter is just such a pain because there is no lift in Furano! Plus there is no direct train going to Furano from Sapporo station. The first time I went to Furano was by train since my friend insisted to take that very famous train (well, in summer time it’s really beautiful), by the time the train arrived at Furano Station, I was just simply hopeless. I was blessed because we met a very nice driver and he helped us carry our luggage to the exit of the station. But you cannot rely on that, right?
So yes. Unless you miss all the buses and you cannot wait till next day to go to Furano/ you have a JR Hokkaido pass (so it’s free!), please do take the bus.
Driving to Furano
It takes around 2.5 hours for you to drive to Furano, for driving options, please click here.
Driving in Hokkaido during winter is totally different from other areas due to the heavy snowfall and strong wind. Please read this article before you book for your driving trip.
Trip Planning Tips for Furano Ski Resort
In order to make your Furano snowboarding trip easier, I have made a sample itinerary here for you (suppose you’re staying there for nine days):
- Day 1: Land in Sapporo, take the direct bus to Furano directly from Sapporo Airport, try to sort out your rental upon arrival.
- Day 2 to Day 6: a mix of snowboarding in Furano/Tomamu Hoshino/Kamui Ski Links/Rest day.
- Day 7: Send your gears and large luggage to Sapporo airport first with Japanese efficient courier, go to Sapporo city with a small luggage, eat a lot, drink a lot, shop lot and sightseeing.
- Day 8: Day trip to Otaru by train for sightseeing/eating/drinking.
- Day 9: Fly out from Sapporo.
Alright, so here’s all I can think of about Furano Ski Resort. If you have any questions about going to Furano, please feel free to leave a comment below and let me know. If you found this article useful, kindly share it out.
Happy snowboarding and travel safe in Furano!