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Furano

Furano, right at Hokkaido’s navel, arguably has Japan’s best snow with backcountry leading to volcanoes, relaxing public baths and neck-deep powder. A resort that’s hosted 12 FIS World Cups is doing something right in the ski stakes, but what makes you come back is bustling, beautiful Furano town.

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Intermediate

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At a glance: • Snowsure • Authentic Japanese town • Beautiful Onsens

Great for: • Off-piste • Non-skiers

Furano, right at Hokkaido’s navel, arguably has Japan’s best snow with backcountry leading to volcanoes, relaxing public baths and neck-deep powder. A resort that’s hosted 12 FIS World Cups is doing something right in the ski stakes, but what makes you come back is bustling, beautiful Furano town.

Furano Resort

Hokkaido is an island of super snowy resorts, and Furano sits at its geographical centre, one of the biggest and the best. From the top of the slopes, you’ll squint a bit at the world of white before you, as eyes take in the endless expanses of the Daisetsu-zan National Park and craggy Tokachi Peak mountain range. Blanketed in 9m of snow a year, this region is home to some of the best powder skiing on earth. Check out it’s steeper stuff in Shaun White’s Big in Japan movie.

Japan has a funny relationship with off-piste. Many places will confiscate your lift pass if you’re caught at it… But not Furano (anymore, at any rate…). And surrounded by other off-piste paradises Sahoro, Kamui, Asahidake, Tokachidake and Tomamu, it makes a good base for day trips out on a powder pilgrimage. Regular bus services, running to Japanese-levels of efficiency, pass between resorts to keep things convenient.

That said, Furano itself deserves your undivided attention. Split between 2 “zones” with 2 base villages (Furano and Kitanomine), the resort does well on the bar, restaurant and off-slope activities front. It’s trump card is that it sits just above Furano City, a beautifully authentic town, managing to combine Japanese essence (genuine onsens at every turn, tea houses, thermal baths, theatrical performances...) with widely spoken English. Holidays feel like cultural experiences, not just ski sessions, and we say while you’re here go big. Don a kimono, visit local shrines, and don’t miss karaoke…

Stats & FAQ

Location: Hokkaido, Japan

Established: 1977

Open: November - May

Downhill: 469.5 acres / 23 runs

View our detailed Furano snow forecast or snow report and see all live webcams, piste maps, road and travel maps and lift pass prices. For a picture of historic snow conditions see the snow depths month by month with our Furano snow history.

Nearest Airport & Transfer Time:
New Chitose Airport (CTS)150km, 2 hrs
  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced
  • 40%

  • 40%

  • 20%

Top Altitude:1209m / 3967ft
Bottom Altitude:245m / 804ft
Resort Altitude:245m / 804ft
Longest run:4km / 2.5 miles
Slope Orientation:E N
Vertical Drop:964m / 3163ft
Skiable Vertical:
Night Skiing:Yes
Glacier:No

Snow Report

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Web Cam

Furano web cams
Downhill Runs:469.5 acres / 23 runs
Beginner slopes:40%
Intermediate:40%
Advanced slopes:20%
Lift Pass Price: ¥5,200 (adult 1 day)
Nearby resorts: Niseko, Sahoro

Skiing/BoardingSkiing in Furano

Divided into two (the Furano and Kitanomine) zones, this resort is renowned for long groomers for all abilities, that you can choose to cruise or plummet down at Mach 2. Fast lifts (including the fastest in Japan) mean the thighs are going to take a beating – especially if you’re heading through backcountry gates and into this resort’s ever-expanding off-piste. Though not yet on the level of Niseko, Furano opens more and more of its “out-of-bounds areas” by the year. It’s a good thing so many soothing hot springs await for afters.

40% of the mountain is rated beginner terrain, and the base areas of both sides of the mountain have wide gentle courses (usually serviced by free lifts). There is also a beginner’s area at the top of the Ropeway cable car, so that beginner skiers and boarders can ski at altitude and get in on the views Japan is known for. Classes in English are available and recommended, previously with “First Timer” programs with the ski schools at either base village.

Such sure snow, long cruisers and fantastic fall-line skiing make Furano a dream for an intermediate. Look out for the local English-speaking ski hosts who’ll happily share this mountain’s secrets with you. Long ungroomed sections like Sailer C provide challenges and a downhill course that the World Cup has regularly been held on is a great one for energising morning dashes.

For advanced skiers there are a few steeps - though on the whole, Japan isn’t known for them. The main attraction is the off-piste terrain and awesome side-country (AKA easily accessed backcountry). Not banned like elsewhere in Japan, 5 different operators offer guided backcountry tours, a worthy investment – if just to be sure you aren’t flouting any local rules. A powder hound could easily play at Furano for a couple of weeks, especially considering the number of day trip options to other local powder fields - a rarity in this part of the world.

Often open till 8, night skiing is another big local pastime, and on both sides of the mountain you can ski almost to the door of some bars.

Furano Apres Ski

Having an actual city so close, skiing in Furano offers a genuine Japanese experience not just a touristtastic resort itinerary. The first thing to do when you arrive is head to the Tourism Association in the Kitanomine gondola building, for the low-down on what’s on for the week. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch local performances like the famed “belly-button dance”, traditional folk music and sword dances that’ll send you home with stories. Year round you’ll also find tea ceremonies, hot indoor and outdoor springs and plenty of chances to don a kimono.

While the base villages are fully stocked with classic bars and restaurants, they run into the hundreds in the city, where winding side streets are laden with hidden gems and plenty of sliding rice paper doors. Among the more modern Japanese traditions, the Snow Dome ice bar up by the slopes is one of a number taking this country by snowstorm.

All-night dancing you may not find, but all-you-can-drink deals you will, plus the karaoke bars the Japanese love so dearly. Expect lots of relaxed but heady establishments like cigar bars (try Soh up at base) and quaint Japanese Izakaya pubs (some where they’ll tot up your bill using an abacus…). Where English isn’t spoken, picture menus and a good spot of pointing and gesturing usually do the trick and won’t earn you a scowl.

If settling back with a beer or warm sake all afternoon isn’t your style, get intrepid with dog sled rides, snowmobiling, snowkiting, balloon rides, ice hole fishing, visits to the huge Buddha at Ashibetsu or – for a true adrenaline junkie – parasailing with a propeller strapped to your back…

For gifts to take home for all who’ve missed out, Ningle Terrace is an arts and crafts village in the trees where you can pick up paper crafts, candles and handmade bits and bobs under fairy lights.

Best time to go

Best time to ski Furano

When is the best time to ski Furano?

Furano benefits from Siberian storms which sweep over the Sea of Japan and smother Hokkaido in the lightest and driest snow – an average of 9 waist-deep meters (355 inches) of the stuff each season. Unlike coastal resorts Niseko and Rusutsu, this far from the coast the skies are usually blue and strong winds are rare. Temperatures, however, can be more bitter. The best part of the Furano ski season for powder is in early January through to late February, when the mercury hovers between a biting -5 and -12°C. This isn’t all bad – bringing with it natural phenomena like snow crystals that glitter on trees ("hoar frost”) and moisture in the air that crystallises and sparkles in the sun ("diamond dust"). You’ll also find a packed events calendar, with highlights like the annual Snow Festival. Wrap up to the eyeballs and enjoy!

Peak Dates

For something a little different this year, spend Christmas in Furano where delicious local foods, traditional onsens and the lightest, driest powder in Japan are the perfect present to yourself.

The crowds brave the elements for New Year in Furano with music, fireworks and in previous years, mass games of rock, paper, scissors… Once you’ve tested out the powder, your New Year’s resolution will most probably be to come back.

As the absolute best time for neck-deep pow, Half Term in Furano’s worth going the extra mile for. A resort with this much going on for families, without being overrun, is one in a million.

Temperatures warm, but the snow is usually still going strong at Easter in Furano making this one of few spots for late season powder skiing, and convenient bus routes to chase the best snow through the mountains.

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Families in Furano

Furano is rather unique in Japan in that it caters for English speaking kids, with English-speaking childcare (for all from 1-year-old) and day-care-lesson combos with English-speaking instructors for all up to 5. All great news, because it would be a crying shame to miss out on all that’s going on at this resort for the sake of a language barrier. If that wasn't enough, under twelves usually get free lift passes, which can save you bundles.

Family Snow Land in the Furano Zone is practically an entire resort for families, where the young and once young can experience activities like snowmobile rides, snow rafting, bouncy castles, snow banana boat rides, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, tubing (on Japan’s longest run) and sledding. Pottering about downtown or the Ningle Terrace, feasting on local treats like “baked milk” and taking trips to nearby Asahiyama Zoo’s famous penguin parade, make for hours of fun in an exciting new country.

To seal the deal, this resort has always offered free lift passes for 12 year olds and under.

GroupsGroup Holidays Furano

24 runs may not sound like loads – but factor in the backcountry and off-piste and Furano is a whole other ballgame. Incredibly light dry powder snow, frequent bluebird days, and terrain to keep 5 backcountry guide operators in business, is enough to make a pack of powderhounds slobber at the mouth. And the action here isn’t all saved for boards and skis. With such epic adventures as snow mobiling, motorised paragliding, snow kiting, tree climbing and the hot springs to congregate in after all this exertion, a trip to Furano is one you’ll be looking back on for donkeys’ years.

The less energetic will lose track of time with activities like pottery classes at Café Nora, going up in hot air balloons and testing out the Japanese at everyone’s favourite Robata restaurant in town. Don’t leave without doing as locals do and belting out a few tunes together at Dream House Kingyo.

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