Furano Hokkaido finds a great balance for a Japan skiing
holiday. The Furano ski resort has very well developed amenities and services, but unlike some Japan ski resorts, Furano doesn’t feel too “resortified”. The nearby town of Furano is rather authentic, and both the town and resort provide adequate creature comforts including the ability to cater to English speaking guests, without losing the essence of Japan.
Furano Ski and Snowboard Terrain
Furano Japan is a large ski resort by Japanese standards (so it’s not huge!), and the statistic of 170 hectares of skiable terrain doesn’t really reflect the size of the ski area. Furano has decent vertical (974 metres) which has enabled the resort to be put on the world cup ski racing map.
Furano is renowned for the many long groomed runs for beginners through to advanced riders, and whether you like to cruise or want to zoom down runs at Mach 2 until your eyes water, if you like groomers then Furano skiing
is for you. And most of the Furano lifts are fast, so your legs will need to be super fit to last the day!
Furano also has on-piste runs that are left au naturel, with pitch at just over 30 degrees. For advanced and experts the main attraction is the very good off-piste terrain and amazing side-country (easily accessed backcountry) for those with avalanche gear and the know-how.
Furano has a reputation for the prohibition of off-piste and tree skiing, and a history of this being policed very strictly. The ski patrollers are relaxing a little with respect to this, particularly for those on an organised tour, but you’ll still need to be respectful or very discrete or invisible. And like even the most progressive of Japanese ski resorts, there are some absolute no-go zones.
Furano receives 9 metres of snow per season on average, which is less than some of the coastal Hokkaido ski resorts
such as Niseko
. Nevertheless the Furano powder is still often knee deep, commonly waist deep, and we’ve even experienced it neck deep! And the powder is generally delightfully light and fluffy – this is what Hokkaido skiing is all about!
The Furano weather is generally more pleasant and there are more blue-sky days than at ski resorts such as Niseko.
Where is Furano Ski Resort?
Furano is located in Central Hokkaido, Japan. Furano is 59km south of Asahikawa
(about an hour away) and 141km (by road) northeast of Sapporo
Furano makes a good base for a ski holiday from which other nearby ski resorts can be accessed for a day trip. Transport is available to Kamui, Asahidake
, and more deep powder is also available at Sahoro
. Or Furano Hokkaido makes a great base to head out on a guided ski tour in nearby backcountry areas.
consists of a range of hotels, pensions, bed and breakfasts, and backpackers. Furano tends to be less expensive than Niseko accommodation
, and there are lodgings to suit most budgets. Furano is also somewhat unique for a Japanese ski resort in that it also has a small range of self-contained accommodation options such as apartments and chalets. Furano has both western and Japanese style accommodation.
Family Friendly Japan Ski Resort
As outlined on the where to ski in Japan
page, Furano is somewhat unique in that it can cater for English speaking kids. Child care is available with English speaking staff and ski lessons for children are available with English speaking instructors. Furano also has various other family friendly activities on offer.
A Furano ski holiday can also be well supplemented by a range of activities including backcountry ski tours, snowmobiling, onsen tours, ice hole fishing, or dressing up in a kimono if that’s what takes your fancy!?
Summary of Pros and Cons
- Furano Japan is very well suited to on-piste riding for beginners through to advanced riders and is a decent sized resort (by Japanese standards).
- Furano is family friendly and caters reasonably well to English speaking children.
- It makes a great base to explore nearby ski resorts that are great for powder hounds and guided day trips from Furano are available if booked in advance. And nearby are backcountry areas such as Furano-dake and Tokachidake.
- Most Japanese ski resorts don’t have enough on offer to keep the interest of advanced and expert riders for more than a few days. A powder hound could play at Furano for 10-14 days, especially considering the number of day trip options to chase powder.
- Furano is one of only a handful of Japanese ski resorts to have self-contained accommodation (e.g. apartments) as well as hotels, pensions and backpackers.
- Furano isn’t overly westernised. It provides a good Japanese cultural experience particularly in the town of Furano, and there are lots of different Japanese restaurants.
- Furano accommodation offers good value for money and kids 12 and under ski free.
Pro or Con Depending on Your Perspective
- Due to its central Hokkaido location, the quality of the snow is generally even better than the coastal resorts such as Niseko. The volume of snow is somewhat less, but the upside is more fine weather days.
- The prohibition on off-piste and sidecountry skiing is relaxing somewhat. Whilst less people are losing their lift ticket, more people are heading into the trees, and now there are a few less freshies on offer.
Tours that may include Furano