To get from Sapporo to Furano by car it takes about two hours. That is if you have a 4×4 drive, which we didn’t. Furano must be so pretty during spring and summer covered in lavender fields but many people also go there for skiing. We stayed at an awesome place called Brickhouse ふらの which was more of a holiday home than a hotel room. Too bad we had only planned to stay one night.. but oh well, there’s still time to go back one day. The interior was completely out of wood and I enjoyed lying covered under the fluffy blankets while looking outside the windows and see the snow falling. Maybe it wasn’t a lot of snow (as people kept telling us) but it was definitely more than Switzerland had.

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Brick House ふらの – perfect home after an outdoor adventure

Furano is tiny and a little touristy but the vast white plains and powdery mountains make me feel at ease. There’s little temples and shrines with their red Torii gates scattered here and there and every single place invites you to stop and look around to enjoy the scenery or play in the snow. There’s no sound at all when you’re standing there surrounded by all that sparkling white and it all feels so surreal. I mean, I’m used to breathtaking sceneries from the Swiss alps with their little wooden cottages and massive mountains but Furano has a completely different charm. Must be the pastel shades and red roofs.

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Aren’t the pastel shades of the houses cute?

We’ve barely seen any tourists because they were probably all enjoying the powder snow in the nearby ski resort. From time to time it was like there was no one else besides us but that didn’t really disturb me. Eventhough the sun was shining it was freezing cold and it didn’t take us long to stop at a Ramen shop to warm up a bit. There were these little characters on the rail in front of a house and I keep wondering what the character in the middle is. It looks like evil version of Hello Kitty maybe? I couldn’t find anything, I think it’s cute though. Some of the houses had even tiny shrines with Tanuki – Japanese racoon dogs.

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わたがし or Watagashi – it’s cotton candy :3

We spent the evening at the Ningle terrace which is basically little cottages in a birch wood connected by planks, selling craft work. I think I only entered maybe one shop because I was too busy trying out my new tripod to take long exposure time pictures. It was around dinner time when we arrived there so we had the place almost to ourselves. But soaking in a hot spring would have been better. Honestly though the only reason I wanted to go there was to take pictures of it because I think it looks lovely with all the warm light and the snow. They turned out a little dark somehow but hey, it was my first try.

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The Ningle terrace – what does “ningle” even mean?!

Furano is really nice but if you’re not going skiing it can get a little boring after a while. You won’t find any shopping malls or arcades and even the restaurants are only few and on the expensive side. There’s many hot spring resorts in the surroundings so if you’re as fond of Japanese style bathing as I am the Kamikawa area won’t disappoint you. There’s even a completely free outdoor bath called Fukiage Onsen which is located in the forest and reached by car in about twenty minutes. It can be tricky to get dressed and undressed in the middle of the snow becasue there’s really nothing except for the pools with the hot water so this time we skipped it. If you’ve had enough of the cold you could still go to a cozy cafes and indulge in waffles filled with creamy Hokkaido milk and different flavours like lavender or melon. Furano and Biei are actually famous for their sweet melons which grow well because of the extreme difference in temperature between summer and winter months and the rout connecting the two towns has the nickname Melon road. If I had been there in summer I had lived of melons.

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Furano farm houses – あけるなキケソ

All in all it was a lovely stay, the high light though an Onsen which was the main reason of our visit in Furano, was closed due to maintenance work, that didn’t keep us from returning a few days later however. The surrounding Mountain chain and sleepy forests and buildings make this place look enchanted but I guess that’s what snow does anyway. Nevertheless the shapes of the volcanic mountains and colors aren’t anything like other mountain villages I’ve seen and if you like rural Japan you will enjoy it.
Next I’m going to take you to the mountains and to my favourite Onsen there.

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