Long known to Japanese tourists for its awe inspiring natural beauty, Furano Ski Resort in central Hokkaido receives more than 9m of fresh snowfall each winter.
Long known to Japanese tourists for its awe inspiring natural beauty, Furano Ski Resort in central Hokkaido receives more than nine meters of fresh snowfall each winter.
Furano combines two main ingredients that now sees international tourists flock to the area in winter - high-quality Japow and varied ski terrain with steep areas uncommon in most Japanese resorts. With these amazing qualities in this winter playground, the town itself has seen increase in higher end hotels, whilst still retaining chalet and condo options to suit all budgets as well.
All of this backs onto the backcountry skiing, snowboarding and hiking mecca that is the Daisetsuzan National Park. This National Park contains Hokkaido’s Highest Peak, Mt Asahidake, an active volcano which has been long famed for supplying amazing days in the outdoors. A visit to one of the mountains active steam vents at any time of year should not be missed.
When spring has sprung and most other winter resort towns begin winding down, Furano ramps up for the thousands of mainly domestic tourists it attracts each summer who come to marvel at the deep purple lavender fields, to indulge on cheese and wine from some of the country’s best makers, to cycle, to golf, to hike and to enjoy the fresh summer vibes in this happening year-round destination. In fact, within Japan, Furano is perhaps even more famous than Niseko!
Before the pandemic, this Insta-worthy year-round destination was seeing consistent year on year growth in international tourism. The increase is driven by the trend of international tourists coming to Central Hokkaido looking for a more local experience than they could find in other Hokkaido resorts. The draw of raw natural beauty, amazing 12-month experiences, world class snow and terrain with traditional restaurants and bars has seen many travelers visit Furano for the first time and just as many loyally return each year.
Savvy investors salivate at the opportunity to own and develop in a town with year-round tourist demand and the market in Furano, while still in its infancy, is poised to take off.
The big question on everyone’s lips is… will Furano become ‘The Next Niseko’?
The Ski Hill
The ski area in Furano combines two interconnected zones - the original ski area of Kitanomine and the Furano area. Linked by a long intermediate run from Furano to Kitanomine and a two-man chairlift to return back again, both zones offer wide open beginner terrain at their bases perfect for new skiers or snowboarders to hone their skills. Kitanomine is also home to an international Snowsports School. With over 950m of vertical, the upper mountain offers a choice of open bowls and long tree runs to challenge any advanced or expert skier and boarder as well as a host of intermediate runs for those trying out any one of the ten lifts for the first time. Five backcountry access gates are dotted across the Furano ridgeline allowing the more adventurous skiers or riders access to a huge amount of terrain past the ski area boundary
Typically, the Furano side of the mountain opens earlier and closes later than the Kitanomine side, depending on snow conditions for the season. There is a local, connecting shuttle bus if either side is closed.
Where to Stay
The Kitanomine side has seen the most growth in accommodation options over the last five years. The newly developed Fenix Furano and Kaku Place developments have added higher end hotel choices to the mix, operating alongside existing boutique hotels such as Munin and Hitohana. A host of other ski chalets and condos alongside plenty of bars and restaurants all within walking distance to the Gondola makes Kitanomine an easy choice for visitors.
The Furano side is dominated by the Furano Prince Hotel which sits ski-in ski-out at the resort base. Nearby you’ll find the quirky ‘Ningle Terrace’ – a collection of boutique shops selling souvenirs and handicrafts, linked by a boardwalk which meanders playfully through the trees.
Then there is the town of Furano itself. Although it is further from the ski hill it boasts plenty of character with an abundance of Japanese cuisine to choose from, the famous Furano black garlic ramen should be on any foodies list to try. Being a large town you will also find plenty of supermarkets, shops, cafes & bakeries, a well-appointed fitness centre… and even a bowling alley!
It goes without saying that, in winter, the snow is the main drawcard.
In summer, Furano is most famous for its many vibrant and multi-coloured flower fields. Farm Tomita is perhaps the most impressive, with 13 different gardens displaying different colored flowers as they bloom throughout the season. Here you can also try the local delicacy of lavender ice cream.
Daisetsuzan National Park has endless opportunity in any month of the year. Each season allows you to marvel at the ever-changing colors of nature and visitors can enjoy a range of hikes in the warmer months or skiing and snowboarding on Hokkaido’s highest peak, Mt Asahidake, in winter. After a long day on the mountain, a nice soak in any one of the amazing tranquil onsen in the park will leave you with lasting memories.
Nearby, the Shirogane Blue Pond close to Biei is another local tourist hot spot that needs to be seen to be believed. Caused accidentally when aluminium hydroxide spilled into it during works to prevent the town from volcanic mudflows in 1988 (don’t worry, it is safe!), the pond is almost impossibly blue.
In the heart of Hokkaido, this agriculture area is well known for cultivating some of Japan’s best produce. From the Furano Winery which is considered to be among Japan’s best and pairs perfectly with cheese from the popular Furano Cheese Factory, to the juicy Furano Melons and the locally made soft-serve ice-cream, the culinary experience makes the Furano region worthy of a visit alone.
Opportunities abound for buyers looking to access the Furano market.
Fenix Furano opened in 2020, setting a new benchmark for western-style luxury condo-hotel accommodation in Kitanomine and units all sold within three months of launch. A second phase of that same development comprises of two new buildings, Fenix East and Fenix West, both also now for sale with Fenix West opening in late 2022.
Metropoly Holdings have developed Kaku Place, with the building open and many of the 16 units still available for the right buyer.
There is opportunity in the market for land too with plots available on both the Kitanomine and Furano sides attracting a lot of interest.