Hokkaido’s Lavender Sea & Ski Heaven
Furano is one of Hokkaido’s top travel destinations. In my travel guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about Furano’s lavender blooming season, the rainbow flower fields, and Furano’s ski resort.
Let’s have a look at what to see, do & eat in Furano.
City in Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan
Furano (富良野) is a picturesque rural city in Hokkaido. It is well known all across Japan as one of the top summer destinations and attracts many visitors every year.
In the summer months, flower lovers visit Furano to see its beautiful lavender covered hills and rainbow-colored flower fields.
In winter, on the other hand, skiers and snowboarders gather here to enjoy Furano Ski Resort’s powder snow.
Furano is part of Hokkaido Prefecture located on Japan’s northernmost island. It’s right in the island’s center and therefore also known as Hokkaido’s bellybutton.
Sapporo, Hokkaido’s largest city, is about 100 km west of Furano. Asahikawa is about 60km further north and Tokyo is about 1,300 km away.
The best seasons to visit Furano are summer and winter, but spring and autumn are nice, too.
If you want to see the purple lavender carpets I recommend you to come here in July. The lavender blooming season is from late June until early August. However, the best time to see the lavender is usually the latter half of July.
For flower viewing, you can come here anytime between April and October with the peak season being June to September.
Furano’s ski season lasts from late November to early May. For the best powder snow come here in January or February, but also plan in to pay a bit more, since it’s high season.
- Blooming lavender carpets covering the city’s hills
- Colorful flower fields looking like rainbows
- A ski resort famous for its sunny blue-sky weather
- Lavender flavored ice cream and dairy products
What to See
So now that we have a little bit of information about Furano let’s have a look at its top sightseeing spots.
Lavender & Flower Fields
Furano’s most famous attractions are its vast lavender and colorful flower fields. And related to that all kinds of lavender products.
All around Furano you can find countless flower and lavender fields. Even along the road all the way up to Biei and Asahikawa.
There are two popular ways to do flower viewing.
You can visit one of the many farms and stroll around their lavender fields before indulging in the lavender products they sell. Most of the farms can be entered for free including the most famous one Farm Tomita.
Or, if you are into trains, you can take the Furano-Biei Norokko train. It offers beautiful views of Furano’s and Biei’s picturesque landscape. The train only operates in summer from June to September.
As mentioned before the best time to see the lavender is mid to late July. Some of Furano’s lavender varieties start blooming at the end of June, and some keep blooming until August, though.
Be aware that the lavender is harvested in August. It depends on the weather but usually in the first week. So better come here before the start of August.
In order to see the beautifully arranged flower fields, you can come here anytime between mid-April and early October. But the most vivid colors you will be able to see from June to September. It’s the peak season for flower viewing.
If you want to know more about the lavender field’s blooming season you can check out my Hokkaido Lavender Guide.
You can enter the farm for free and stroll around the vast lavender and vivid flower fields as long as you want. According to their homepage, the best viewing season for their lavender is in July.
The farm also has a field called Irodori Field, which is probably one of the best-known flower fields in the world or on Instagram. It looks like a gigantic rainbow drawn all across the hills.
Similar to the lavender, the best time to see the Irodori Field is from mid-July to late July.
Besides these fields, there are also two gardens, a small birch forest, and a greenhouse that you can explore for free. In the greenhouse, the lavender and flowers bloom all year round. So you can do flower viewing outside of the usual blooming season and even in winter.
Another thing you shouldn’t miss is the farm’s lavender flavored foods and drinks. They have everything from lavender soft-serve ice cream to steamed potatoes with lavender butter and even lavender coffee.
The purple foods and drinks might sound and maybe also taste a bit adventurous, but all of them will make great pictures. I personally tried the lavender ice cream and the lavender cheesecake and loved them.
Furano Ski Resort
The ski resort has more than 20 trails of which some have been used for the Alpine Ski World Cup. All of you ski and snowboard enthusiasts can hit the slopes from late November until early May.
I’ll give you more information about skiing in Furano in the “What to Do – Go Skiing” section further down. Let’s first talk about the resort’s other attractions, because…
Even if you’re not into skiing and snowboarding there are all kinds of other fun things you can see and do here at the ski resort in Furano.
From December until March, for example, the Furano Kan Kan Mura (ふらの歓寒村) event takes place. It’s a small snow and winter festival that features Japan’s longest snow tub slide.
For just ¥300 ($3, €2,50, £2) you can see cute snow sculptures, chill at an ice bar or ice cafe, and do snow tubbing.
Around the same time, the Wakuwaku Family Snow Land (わくわくファミリースノーランド) opens and offers all kinds of fun winter and snow activities. You can try snow rafting, sledding, snowmobiling, and many more.
The lovely village consists of 15 small wooden cottages. Most of them sell traditional handmade crafts that make nice little souvenirs. The candle shop that makes scented wax candles is very popular and there is also a coffee shop that seems to be pretty famous.
More than for shopping I recommend you to come here for the romantic scene and magical atmosphere, though. In winter the snow-covered huts look like straight out of a winter wonderland fairytale. Don’t you agree?
Come here just before or after sunset, so you can see the romantically decorated and illuminated huts and take the best pictures.
You can also visit Ningle Terrace in the summer since it’s open throughout the year. But as you might have guessed it looks less captivating.
Furano Cheese Factory
And Furano’s Cheese Factory (富良野チーズ工房) is the place where you can not only try cheese for free but also try making it yourself.
In fact, the leisure facility is not only about cheese. There’s also a delicious ice-cream shop and a wood-fired pizzeria right next to it.
Let’s first take a look at the cheese factory. On the first floor, you can observe the cheese-making process and see the machines used for making the cheese.
On the second floor, the real fun begins. You can sample different varieties of cheese for free including their black camembert cheese made with squid ink powder.
Here you can also join one of their classes and learn how to make delicious ricotta cream cheese.
After exploring the factory don’t forget to stop by at the pizzeria and the ice-cream parlor! They are both good and right next to the factory.
The ice cream shop has some unique ice cream flavors including pumpkin, corn, cheese, and honeydew melon gelato.
Furano Winery & Grape Juice Factory
This is a small place very similar to the cheese factory. You can do a self-tour that will first lead you through the wine cellar and then to the wine tasting and sampling area.
You can sample different wines and wine chocolates for free. If you like them there’s a shop to buy more. Or you can go to the wine house nearby serving western dishes like cheese fondue – of course with wine.
It’s still a young winery so don’t expect too much complexity from the wine. Instead, for a real taste sensation go to the Grape Juice Factory.
The Grape Juice Factory (ふらのぶどう果汁工場) is a short 20-minute walk away. You can try different kinds of grape juice and honestly, I’ve never had anything like that.
Their buffalo grape juice and white grape juice were the best in my opinion and their grape soft-serve was the most delicious I have ever had.
What to Do
There are a few more sightseeing spots, of course, that I’m going to show you in detail in a later post.
Because next I want to cover the top experiences you can have in Furano.
This is for all the outdoor people!
As I promised the skiers and snowboarders among you, we’ll have a more detailed look at what to expect here.
The resort features 2 base villages, 10 lifts, 24 runs and 974 meters of vertical terrain.
Out of the 24 slopes, 40% are suitable for beginners, 40% are made for intermediates, and 20% are for advanced skiers and boarders. There are no expert runs.
The best things about skiing and snowboarding in Furano are the fluffy powder snow and the good sunny weather with blue skies.
This is definitely a big plus compared to other resorts like for example Niseko.
During the skiing season, which usually lasts from late November until early May, Furano receives 8-9 meters of good fluffy powder snow.
If you want to get the best powder you should come here in early January to late February.
A lift pass for a day costs around ¥6,000 ($55, €50, £40).
The same-named mountain, Mt. Furano, is 1,912 meters (6,273 ft) high and offers beautiful views of the surrounding Genshi-ga-hara Marshland and mountains.
There’s also a nice route that will lead you from Tokachi Onsen to the summit of Mt. Furano over to the peak of Mt. Kamifurano, which is 1,893 meters (6211 ft) high.
It takes about 3-4 hours to the summit of Mt. Furano and then another 3-4 hours back via Kamifurano-dake.
For a more adventurous hike you can choose the Mt. Tokachi-dake course. It is the highest peak with an elevation of 2,077 meters (6914 ft) and is still an active volcano.
If you love the scent of lavender you shouldn’t miss this one!
Nanaka-no-Hanabatake is a lavender garden where you can harvest lavender.
For ¥700 ($7, €6, £5) you can walk through the lavender fields and fill a bag with the fragrant flowers.
Other Outdoor Activities
In the nearby Sorachigawa river, you can try white water rafting, canyoning, and lake rafting.
The tours are organized by Flying Dolphins Adventure Service and take about 3 hours.
The costs for a tour are around ¥6,000 ($55, €50, £40).
Asobiya is another tour company. Besides rafting, they offer a short hot air balloon flight.
The flight is just 5 minutes and costs around ¥3,000 ($28, €25, £20). However, it offers some nice views of the surrounding fields and mountains.
Horse and dog lovers might want to do some horseback riding or dog sledding with huskies at Yuma.
What to Eat
Furano Omu Rice – Yuiga Doxon
I highly recommend the Omelet and Sausage Curry for ¥1,500 ($14, €12, £10). They also serve local beer and you can also try Furano wines.
The restaurant feels like a little treehouse and has a wonderful rustic ambiance.
They actually have 3 different restaurants this one, Yama no Doxon (山の独尊), and Tonari no Doxon (となりの独尊). All of them are located in Furano city.
Lavender & Melon – Farm Tomita
The most famous lavender treat is this lavender soft-serve ice cream. You can get it at Farm Tomita and Lavender East for example.
If you are visiting Farm Tomita I also highly recommend the lavender-flavored cheesecake. It was so good!
Farm Tomita also has a melon house where you can get fresh ice cream served on top of a juicy melon bowl.
Roast Beef Bowl – Kumagera
Even though their Omu Curry is highly recommended, you have to try their incredible roast beef bowl. The Wagyu beef they are using is the best!
Their Sukiyaki and seafood hot pot (nabe) are popular, too. And they also have Shabu Shabu, so you can try a great variety of typical Japanese dishes.
It’s a popular restaurant, though, so you might have to wait in line for a bit!
Pudding & Sweets – Furano Delice
Their pudding is extremely popular among Japanese and they have delicious french toast. The price for the french toast is about ¥1,000 ($9, €8, £7).
If you haven’t had enough you can also still buy some sweets at their shop for later.
Pizza – Furano Cheese Factory
You can get some real pizza topped with local cheese. Believe me, their cheese is really good!
And then there is, of course, the ice cream parlor just next to it, where you can get a unique flavored gelato as dessert.
All the products use the renowned and extremely delicious Hokkaido milk.
Where to Stay
La Vista Furano Hills Natural Hot Spring
La Vista Hotel is one of the best hotels in Hakodate and I’m a big fan of it. But this one is even better! The hotel has a central location, near Furano Station, a great breakfast buffet and an awesome hot spring facility.
When I checked the prices for the winter season I found it for ¥15,000 ($140, €125, £105).
During the flower-viewing season, I could book it for ¥17,000 ($155, €140, £120).
And when the lavender is in bloom in July I found it from ¥20,000 ($180, €160, £140).
New Furano Prince Hotel
It’s a prince hotel so the prices are steep!
However, I found it for ¥20,000 ($180, €160, £140) per night in March and for ¥15,000 ($140, €125, £105) in April on Hotelscombined.
Furano Prince Hotel
This one is a lot cheaper than the New Prince Hotel!
Even during the ski high season, I found room prices for just ¥20,000 ($180, €160, £140).
Plan Your Trip to Furano
When to visit Furano
Lavender Blooming Season
The best time to see the lavender is mid-July to late July.
The early lavender varieties start blooming at the end of June and the late varieties bloom until early August.
Please note that the lavender is harvested in August, so better come here before August!
Ski & Snowboard Season
Furano’s skiing season is from late November to early May, but the Kitanomine zone has a slightly shorter season than the Furano zone.
Kitanomine Zone is only open from Mid-December to late March. So if you want to get the most out of your ski and snowboard trip come here during that time.
For the best powder, however, January and February are best. But this is also the high season and therefore more expensive.
Furano’s flower fields can be viewed from April to October.
The peak season for flower viewing is from May to September, though.
Sunflowers, for example, can be seen between July and October.
Potato flowers bloom between late June and early July.
Cherry Blossoms & Autumn Leaves
Furano isn’t a famous place for cherry blossom viewing, but you can still do Hanami.
Usually, the first 10 days of May are the best time to come to Furano, if you want to see the sakura.
For the autumn leaves, there are two seasons. The first one is from mid-September to early October when the leaves change to turn yellow and red.
And in November another tree starts to get yellow trees and makes for a picturesque landscape with the white snow.
|January||-12°C to -5°C||Peak||¥¥¥|
|February||-11°C to -3°C||Many||¥¥¥|
|March||-5°C to 1°C||Many||¥¥|
|April||3°C to 10°C||Some||¥¥|
|May||9°C to 18°C||Some||¥¥|
|June||14°C to 22°C||Many||¥¥|
|July||18°C to 25°C||Many||¥¥¥¥|
|August||18°C to 25°C||Some||¥¥|
|September||12°C to 20°C||Some||¥¥|
|October||6°C to 12°C||Few||¥¥|
|November||-1°C to 4°C||Few||¥¥|
|December||-8°C to -2°C||Many||¥¥|
How to get to Furano
Get off at JR Furano Station located right in the city center. There’s another station about 10 minutes further north named Nakafurano Station (JR). This one is closer to Farm Tomita and its lavender fields.
From Sapporo, the fastest way to travel to Furano is by limited express train. It takes about 2 hours and costs about ¥5,000 ($35, €41, £34). The cheaper way is to travel by local train. It’s only ¥3,000 ($28, €25, £20) but takes 3 hours.
From Asahikawa, it takes about 1.5 hours (¥1,500 / $13 / €12 / £10) and Biei is a 40-minute ride away for less than ¥1,000 ($9, €8, £7).
If you have the Japan Rail Pass or the Hokkaido Rail Pass the costs are fully covered.
The closest airport is Asahikawa Airport. It is about 1 hour further north of Furano.
From Tokyo I found cheap domestic flights starting from ¥10,000 ($90, €80, £70).
From New-Chitose Airport, Hokkaido’s main airport, it takes about 3-4 hours to get to Furano.
From Sapporo, there are direct highway buses to Furano. It’s a convenient and cheap alternative.
The bus ride takes about 2.5 hours and costs about ¥2,500 ($23, €20, £18).
Furano is a 2-3 hour drive away from Sapporo.
From Asahikawa, it’s a 1-hour drive and from Biei it’s a 45-minute drive.
If you got interested in traveling to Furano and have any questions or if you’d like to have more information, feel free to contact me anytime!
Also if there is any topic you’d like to know more about – Furano, Hokkaido, or traveling in Japan in general – just let me know and I’ll write a blog post about it!
I’m already writing on some other posts about Furano so stay tuned!
You might also be interested in these awesome travel destinations nearby:
Biei, Asahikawa, Sapporo