Furano ski resort is an undiscovered gem in the heart of Japans northern island of Hokkaido. It boasts excellent powder snow and provides and into the wild experience.
Furano has two separate base areas and the resort is linked by runs on the upper mountain. It has some fantastic fast intermediate groomers that are a dream for carving.
The snow is often epic Hokkaido powder but it tracks out quickly in bounds and off-piste skiing is banned. This is very frustrating if you are an advanced rider.
Planning your trip
Furano town is pretty underwhelming but still expensive. A viable option is to overnight in Sapporo and catch a train to the resort in the morning. Night skiing is offered and thus you can still have a long day on the slopes. If you are planning on staying locally then three days would enable you to canvas the place.
Rental gear at the resort is fine. Not great but fine.
It does get fiercely cold up here so dress warmly, particularly for night skiing.
The field has night skiing, a proper gondola and a handful of decent lifts. The town below is spread out and pretty boring.
Access to and from
Trains access the town of Furano and from there it is either a bus ride, taxi or 30min walk to the slopes.
Sapporo was a cheap and central place to stay in Hokkaido. We were up early and running along icy pavements to make it onto one of the few trains to the ski area of Furano. Despite leaving before 8am we didn’t arrive in Furano until after 10am. The countryside we travelled through became progressively more wild and even the pre-recorded stiff British voice used to announce train stops on the main line gave way to a pre-recorded thick Louisiana accent on the local lines.
Unfortunately the ski shuttle bus service from the train station doesn’t coincide with the main trains from Sapporo so we opted to take the scenic route and hike the 30min through town to the ski field.
Furano town itself was reminiscent of a mid-west American town with a classic grid and the occasional McDonalds. The architecture was faded and I suspect the Apres-ski would struggle to rival even National Park township in New Zealand.
Our rental gear was OK.
The weather was windy and bitterly cold. We had number of great runs but Mark was missing the warmth of his faded yellow jacket. The snow itself was excellent but the ‘look but don’t touch’ prohibition of off-piste skiing was frustrating. Hokkaido is quite far north and short daylight hours compounded by poor weather meant the night-skiing lights came on at about 3pm; we succumbed to the cold not long afterwards.
The train back to Sapporo made it a long but rewarding day.