Furano Overview

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Known for its beautiful blooming lavender fields and soft serve ice cream in the summer, and popular cross country and light powdery downhill skiing resorts in the winter, Furano is a picturesque rural wonderland tucked away in the centre of Hokkaido. The town itself is made up of numerous charming farming towns surrounding a small city centre.

Furano is known across Japan as ‘Heso no Machi’ AKA the Belly Button Town, due to its geographical location right in the centre of Hokkaido, and plays host to the unique Hokkaido Belly Button Festival. The exact centre point of Hokkaido is even marked with a publically accessible monument in one of the town’s primary schools.

Furano’s central inland location and high elevation make it a perfect spot for its thriving ski resort and wine industries. Due to its continental climate, the temperatures of Furano can vary quite dramatically between the summer and winter months, so it is advised to pack appropriate clothing when visiting. Summer days can reach as high as 30 degrees Celsius whilst some winter days can get as cold as -20 degrees Celsius. During the cold winter Furano receives approximately 10 metres of annual snowfall.

With its small central municipal area population about 22,423, the number of English speaking staff at hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions are few and far between meaning some basic level Japanese will help immensely when visiting some points of interest. The Furano Visitor Centre located at the train and bus station can provide English assistance, depending on the staff rostered there that day. Despite the relative scarcity of local English speakers, there is a growing interest from foreign skiers which only grows year by year. As of late, the town has experienced a mini boom with visitors coming from as far as France, Finland, Canada, and Australia.

Meanwhile, visitors predominantly from Taiwan, China, and across Japan flock annually to Furano to visit the famous summertime lavender fields. In fact, these fields are so popular that Furano receives 10 times more visitors in the summer than it does in the winter months. Furano has a distinct air of familiarity for many Japanese visitors, even before they arrive at the town for the first time. This is thanks to a popular long running television drama called Kita no Kuni Kara which was filmed in various locations in and around town throughout its 20 year run.

The town’s deep and dry powdery snow and heavy winter snowfall (at least a meter a week in peak season) make it the ideal spot for skiers and snowboarders seeking some winter thrills. This heavy snowfall also makes Furano prime property for winter hiking up snow covered mountains, even allowing visitors the unique experience of hiking over entire bamboo forests which get completely covered by winter snow. Ice hole fishing and snowmobiling are other fun winter activities that can be enjoyed in the peaceful little town.

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