8 Things To Do In Furano-Biei - Seasonal Views And Nature In Hokkaido

8 Things To Do In Furano-Biei - Seasonal Views And Nature In Hokkaido

Hokkaido 2018.07.03

The northern prefecture of Hokkaido contains urban Sapporo and historic cities like Hakodate. Furano-Biei, in the middle of Hokkaido, is a spot to where visitors enjoy nature all year. This article introduces eight spots and how to enjoy the seasons here.

Translated by Sandy Lau

Written by Satoko Nakano

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The Great Outdoors in the Furano-Biei Area

8 Things To Do In Furano-Biei! Enjoy Different Views In Different Seasons

Furano, situated in the center of Hokkaido. Sometimes referred to as the "navel" of Hokkaido, it is a city abundant with nature, surrounded by large mountains including the Tokachi Mountains in the Daisetsuzan Volcanic Group, Mt. Ashibetsu, and Mt. Yubari.

The area has lots of fun activities like hiking and rafting in the spring, and skiing in the winter. There are also a great number of people that come to see the flower fields with different full bloom times every month.

Especially famous is lavender, which has become synonymous with Furano. Around the middle of July, when the flowers approach full bloom, visitors are overwhelmed with the carpets of purple that can be seen everywhere throughout the city.

Biei, located right next to Furano, is a city also known for its beautiful rolling hills. We recommend traveling by rental bicycle from Biei to Furano from the spring to the summer, on days with nice weather.

In this article we introduce the locations you should stop by, including places to enjoy the nature of Furano and Biei, to cuisine and souvenirs.

1. Farm Tomita with Stunning Flower and Lavender Fields

8 Things To Do In Furano-Biei! Enjoy Different Views In Different Seasons

Picture courtesy of Farm Tomita

In Furano, Farm Tomita has vast flower fields, including their own lavender fields.

There are thirteen fields in total at the farm, such as flower fields, gardens, greenhouses, and forests with various flowers and trees. The fields are breathtaking and beautiful and are open from April to October. The main attraction of the farm are the Traditional Lavender Fields, becoming the catalyst to lavender in Furano becoming known throughout the country. It is also the lavender field with the longest history in Japan.

You will let out a sigh at the beauty of Lavender East, Japan’s best lavender field, cultivated for the production of lavender oil. Up to around 90,000 lavender plants bloom here.

We also recommend riding the Lavender Bus that slowly circles around the inside of Lavender East for about fifteen to 20 minutes. You might also be able to catch the lavender being harvested at the end of July.

Lavender East is only open during the flower’s full bloom in July. As such, we recommend visiting during this time.

8 Things To Do In Furano-Biei! Enjoy Different Views In Different Seasons

Picture courtesy of Farm Tomita

If you’re tired, take a short break at the cafés located in several areas of the farm. The Soft Serve Ice Cream with Lavender Extract (cone: 300 yen, cup: 250 yen, both with tax) is very fragrant and popular with visitors for its brilliant purple color.

Farm Tomita
Address: Hokkaido, Sorachi, Nakafurano, Kisen Kita 15
Access: Exit Lavender Farm Station after alighting the JR Furano Line’s Furano-Biei Norokko train and walk for 7 minutes (The days the train is in service are limited, so please check this page beforehand.)
* Starting from 2018, the Furano-Biei Rapid train will also run as a roundtrip service
Official Website: http://www.farm-tomita.co.jp/en/

2. Have Fun and Delicious Experiences at Flower Land Kamifurano

8 Things To Do In Furano-Biei! Enjoy Different Views In Different Seasons

Picture courtesy of Flower Land Kamifurano

Flower Land Kamifurano is also another famous tourist spot. Beautiful flowers are in full bloom every season here. The Sightseeing Tractor Bus circles around the flower fields (taking about ten minutes for a full trip around the park, 500 yen for adults, 300 yen for children) and is popular on days when the weather is clear.

The park is characterized with an large selection of activities in addition to the beautiful landscape. Through the Flower Experience menu, you can create crafts to take home to remember your visit to Furano, like a pillow filled with lavender pot-pourri, pressed flower postcards, and pressed flower plates.

8 Things To Do In Furano-Biei! Enjoy Different Views In Different Seasons

Picture courtesy of Flower Land Kamifurano

Another area worth paying attention to is the farm inside the park. Freshly harvested and lovingly-grown vegetables from the farm can also be purchased at the store.

Visitors here can have the tasty experience of trying fresh asparagus, melons, boiled corn, and other produce picked that morning. In the autumn, there is a 500 yen "all-you-can-pick and fit in a bag" potato and onion activity, something one can only experience in Hokkaido.

Flower Land Kamifurano
Address: Hokkaido, Sorachi, Kamifurano, Nishi 5 Senkita 27
Access: 8 minutes by car from JR Kamifurano Station
Official Website: http://flower-land.co.jp/en/

3. Unforgettable Winter Scenery at Furano Ski Resort

8 Things To Do In Furano-Biei! Enjoy Different Views In Different Seasons

Picture courtesy of Prince Grand Resort Furano

Furano Ski Resort, among the numerous ski resorts in Hokkaido, is a ski slope with history. Numerous international competitions have been held here in the past.

The resort’s features include the a total of 23 beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses. At the long Furano ZONE course, you can enjoy cruising for over four kilometers.

Kitanomine Zone has an abundance of not only advanced courses, but also beginner’s courses. Here, you can choose from various courses, and beginners will be able to slowly improve through this zone.

8 Things To Do In Furano-Biei! Enjoy Different Views In Different Seasons

Picture courtesy of Prince Grand Resort Furano

The Kitanomine Gondola at the Kitanomine ZONE will bring you up 2958m all at once, and is geared towards intermediate and advanced skiers. The panoramic views of the Tokachi and Daisetsuzan Mountains from the summit of Kitanomine are incredible.

The Furano Ropeway, can hold up to 101 people, traveling to the Furano ZONE. Riding on the ropeway is an enjoyable activity combining entertainment and scenery.

Accommodations like the New Furano Prince Hotel and Furano Prince Hotel, and the Ningle Terrace, as well as a shopping area that extends across fifteen log houses, are also located at the foot of the slope. The area is bustling with the many people that gather here.

Furano Ski Resort
Address: Hokkaido, Furano, Nakagoryo
Access: 10 minutes by car from JR Furano Station
Official Website: http://www.princehotels.com/en/ski/furano/ (lift fee is also found on this page)

4. Furano Marche is Full of Fresh and Delicious Snacks

8 Things To Do In Furano-Biei! Enjoy Different Views In Different Seasons

Picture courtesy of Furano Town Management Organization

Furano Marche is a recreational and relaxation space created for visitors to enjoy the local food culture (for both eating and cooking) here. Many tourists visit because of the special produce and food items that can only be purchased here.

Among the shops at the facility, a collection of over 2000 types of Furano-brand products such as wine, cheese, jam, and lavender products are available at Product Center ARGENT.

8 Things To Do In Furano-Biei! Enjoy Different Views In Different Seasons

Picture courtesy of Furano Town Management Organization

When you think of the word “marche,” a farmer’s market with local products and food items may come to mind. You can get your hands on delicious and freshly harvested vegetables at Irodorina and HOGAR. The Furano area is where a majority vegetables harvested in Hokkaido are grown, including pumpkins, tomatoes, and potatoes. You won't be able to stop eating once you’ve had a taste of these fresh and safely-grown vegetables.

Additionally, there are twelve takeout restaurants and cafés where you can try products using local ingredients, such as Café SABOR where you can enjoy coffee and seasonal drinks. You’ll also be able to find ramen and western-style restaurants here. Definitely come and visit!

Furano Marche
Address: Hokkaido, Furano, Saiwaicho 13-1
Access: 7 minute walk from JR Furano Station
Official Website: http://www.furano.ne.jp/marche/ (Japanese)

5. Taste of Variety of Flavors at Furano Wine, Grown in Nature

8 Things To Do In Furano-Biei! Enjoy Different Views In Different Seasons

Picture courtesy of Furano Grape Research Institute

There are numerous wineries in Hokkaido. Furano is no exception. Starting in 1972, this is an area where everything from high-quality grape cultivation to wine-making is practiced.

The winery is in a brick-built building constructed halfway up a mountain. Here, you can see the manufacturing process and wine fermentation cellars along with wine tastings at Furano Wine (tours are free).

Visitors are also free to purchase original products, wine, and products made with grape juice at the winery’s store.

8 Things To Do In Furano-Biei! Enjoy Different Views In Different Seasons

Picture courtesy of Furano Grape Research Institute

Furano Wine can also be purchased at retail shops in Hokkaido, but there are also products sold only at the winery. For example, the Zweigeltrebe Saignée & American Oak Matured is a rare wine that can only be found at the winery. This is a location that you must visit if you love wine.

Lavender fields also stretch across the property on the winery and are illuminated every year at night when they’re in season. Please enjoy this dynamic and beautiful scenery during both day and night.

Furano Wine
Address: Hokkaido, Furano, Mt. Shimizu 1161
Access: 7 minutes by car from JR Furano Station
Official Website: http://www.furanowine.jp/ (Japanese)

6. Furano Cheese Factory: Fully Enjoy The Dairy Products of Furano

8 Things To Do In Furano-Biei! Enjoy Different Views In Different Seasons

Picture courtesy of Furano Agricultural Corporation

Some of Furano’s most popular souvenirs are the dairy products from the Furano Cheese Factory.

The factory products natural cheese and butter made with fresh milk delivered from farms in Furano, created by the skilled techniques of artisans. The leading product of the factory is the Wine Cheddar Cheese, the first of its kind in Japan, and a cheese rarely found elsewhere in the world. It is made by kneading Furano wine (red) into the cheese.

8 Things To Do In Furano-Biei! Enjoy Different Views In Different Seasons

Picture courtesy of Furano Agricultural Corporation

You can observe the cheese production room and aging cellars at the cheese factory, surrounded by the stunning nature of Japanese white birch trees.

You can also taste test food while picking products at the direct-sales corner on the second floor. The sweets made with the cheese, milk, and butter manufactured at the cheese factory are also popular.

Classes for handmaking butter, ice cream, cheese, and bread are held every day at the activities factory. You can experience any of the classes for 1000 yen per class. You can also participate in the classes on the same day making a reservation, but we suggest making an advanced reservation through phone, fax, or e-mail (cheese@furano.ne.jp). Please note that the handmade bread class requires a reservation made three days in advance.

You can enjoy Margherita Pizza (1500 yen plus tax) made with mozzarella cheese from the cheese factory at the pizza factory on the premises. After your meal, we recommend the Freshly-Made Soft Serve Cheese Ice Cream (350 yen plus tax) or Gelato (300 yen plus tax/single size) at the ice milk factory nearby.

Furano Cheese Factory
Address: Hokkaido, Furano, Nakago
Access: 10 minutes by car from JR Furano Station
Official Website: http://www.furano-cheese.jp/ (Japanese)

7. Select Hokkaido Ingredients in Jam at Furano Jam Garden

8 Things To Do In Furano-Biei! Enjoy Different Views In Different Seasons

Picture courtesy of KYOHSAI FARM LTD.

At Furano Jam Garden, you can find several jams lined up in rows inside the store. Opened in 1986, the store is is a souvenir spot where you can choose from over 38 types of jams while taste tasting them. With an emphasis on Hokkaido-made ingredients, a portion of the products that the garden uses are cultivated and harvested by independent farms.

The Haskap Berry Jam (864 yen plus tax), a berry native only to Hokkaido, is particularly popular among the jams. Its flavor is similar to that of blueberries, but it has a strong taste and sourness. It is also a superfood full of vitamins and minerals.

The garden also has other charming products lined up in rows, including classic strawberry jam and a luxurious melon jam made with Furano melons. There are so many options, making it hard to decide which product to choose.

As there are also small bottles available here, we recommend tasting a variety of the jams before making your final purchase.

8 Things To Do In Furano-Biei! Enjoy Different Views In Different Seasons

Picture courtesy of KYOHSAI FARM LTD.

At the Sweets Factory next door, you can also enjoy the Croissant Crema Catalana (420 yen plus tax), a dessert consisting of crema catalana, sandwiched between a crispy croissant.

Not only can visitors buy and eat foods, but lessons for making strawberry or kiwi jams are held every day at the garden. For reservations, please take a look at the official website.

We think a homemade jam would make a great souvenir!

Furano Jam Garden
Address: Hokkaido, Furano, Higashirokugo 3
Access: 30 minutes by car from JR Furano Station
Official Website: https://www.furanojam.com/furano_us/

8. See Beauty Made by Nature at the Blue Pond

8 Things To Do In Furano-Biei! Enjoy Different Views In Different Seasons

Traveling a bit further from Furano is Blue Pond in Biei, another of our favorite locations.

The withered larch trees here bring about a magical atmosphere in the a mysterious man-made pond with water that looks blue. There is no end to the people that have been mesmerized by the superb scenery and have come back to visit again and again.

However, visitors must pay attention to the wind and weather. It is best to choose to visit on a day that is as sunny as possible, as you won’t be able to see the pond as it usually is during bad weather. We also suggest not visiting after it has rained due to the water becoming muddied.

It has been said that from the middle of May to the end of June is the period with the highest chance of being able to see the most beautiful cobalt blue.

Even if you can’t visit during this ideal season, the Blue Pond will be illuminated in the evenings during the winter (November through March). During this time the pond contains beauty different from the spring, that will surely take your breath away.

How about taking a moment to relax, forget the clock, and tune in to the mysteries of nature?

Blue Pond
Address: Hokkaido, Kamikawa, Biei, Shirogane
Access: 20 minutes by car from JR Biei Station, 20 minutes by Dohoku Bus

Enjoy the Greenery from Spring to Autumn and the Snowscapes In Winter

lupines

A suggested way to enjoy the Furano-Biei area follows the phrase, “summer is flora, winter is a snowy landscape”. The arrival of full-blown spring is from the middle of April. Beginning with the cherry blossoms at the start of May, various flowers will continue to bloom until around October.

During this time, National Route 237, a highway that runs along the railway from Biei to Furano, lovingly nicknamed "Flower Road," will be crowded with people visiting the gardens.

In May, there are lupine and tulips, while in June there are blue mealycup sage and poppies. The best time to see the early blooming lavender will come at the end of June with its full bloom occurring around the middle of July.

In August, there are sunflowers and cosmoses. Autumn will be decorated in rapeseed flowers and dahlias, from September to October.

The plants that bloom on the mountains are also worth a look. Flowers differing from those found in the gardens will be in bloom from Mt. Furano to the Tokachi Mountains and from Mt. Furano-Nishi to Mt. Ashibetsu. We also recommend viewing at the flowers while hiking.

Furano Ski Resort

Picture courtesy of Prince Grand Resort Furano

Preparations for winter begin from around November. Once it becomes January, you may be able to encounter mystical sights unique to this season. In the inland areas of Furano-Biei you will find frost-covered trees, trees withered by the winter and covered in snow crystals, diamond dust, crystallized water vapor, and sun pillars, made from sunlight reflecting off of ice crystals in the snow.

This truly is a location that will move you emotionally with the beauty of nature no matter the season you visit.

Spots where you can enjoy the scenery, such as Farm Tomita, Flower Land Kamifurano, and the Blue Pond in Biei, are in the Kamifurano area. Spots where you can enjoy lessons and activities can be found in the Furano area near Furano Station.

We suggest going sightseeing in the Kamifurano area on your first day and traveling to the Furano area to stay for one night. The next day you can enjoy what the Furano area has to offer.

Please note that Furano Jam Garden, is located in an area called Rokugo, which is a fair distance from Furano Station.

How to Access Furano-Biei

From New Chitose Airport to Furano

There are no express bus services that go directly from New Chitose Airport to Furano. You can reach Furano in two hours and ten minutes by renting a car. If you take public roads, you will arrive in three hours.

If using the JR train line, it will take approximately three hours (4510 yen) by way of Sapporo.

From Sapporo to Furano

If taking the express bus, it will take three hours from Sapporo (Hokkaido Chuo Bus Rapid Furano: 2260 yen). If you rent a car, it will take around two hours and ten minutes, similar to the route from New Chitose Airport. If traveling via the public roads, it will take approximately three hours.

If using the JR train line, it will take approximately two hours (3620 yen).

Rental Cars are Recommended for Sightseeing

rental car

From “All You Need To Know About Renting A Car In Japan

In general it is convenient to travel by rental car in Furano-Biei. Driving in the winter will require plenty of caution due to deep snow.

If it is difficult to travel by rental car, we recommend a sightseeing or tour bus. The KURURU bus, which operates only in the summer, stops at all the main sightseeing spots, such as Furano Marche, Furano Cheese Factory, and the Furano Winery.

Be sure to also utilize other methods such as the JR Furano-Biei Norokko train, operated only in the summer, and sightseeing taxis.

For Information on Access to Furano and Traveling in Furano: http://www.furanotourism.com/en/static/access.php

Dynamic Nature of Furano-Biei in the Summer and Winter

Abundant with nature and delicious food, Furano-Biei has a summer and winter, each full of different charm. It is a place that will make you want to come back during a different season once you’ve visited it once. The appeals of Hokkaido found here will make you want to say the Japanese greeting "tadaima", or “I’m home.”

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