Furano is best known for its fields of lavender and being the scene of the drama called "Kita no Kuni Kara" (From Northern Country) with its rustic stone and log house. Recently, the town of Furano has been making efforts to attract more foreigners to visit, and it seems to have been successful judging from the number of non Japanese that we saw on our trip. Asahikawa airport allows easy access (much faster than through Shin Chitose/Sapporo airport).
To briefly describe the mountain, there are 2 sides with one connecting run so that you can go down from the Furano side to the Kitanomine side. To get back, there is a connecting lift. \r\n\r\nThere was about 10 to 25 cm of powder snow from the night before, and it snowed lightly thoughout the day. We found some secret stashes in the trees. On the Furano side, the location of the New Furano Prince Hotel, there are ropes everywhere along with signs stating that out of bounds is considered backcountry and not to be entered, rescue cost at own expense, etc.
However, there was plenty of poaching being done with rope duckers going in the trees underneath the Downhill No. 3 lift, between the Panorama and Technical runs on the Furano side. I didn't see that many patrollers.
On the Kitanomine side, there were poles that marked the courses but there were no ropes alongside the ski runs, only nets and ropes at strategic locations where you would not want to enter and fall into a creek bed, etc. which let us explore some "sidecountry" or accessing terrain that was visible from the main run.
Most of the best snow was in between the two mountains. The best powder to be found was on the Challenge course, which had untracked powder in the trees as well as many spots along the run. We were getting knee high powder and I got a couple of face shots on some steeper drop offs.
The food was good, try the white stew at Downhill restaurant. After skiing, I especially enjoyed Ningle Terrace, an arts and crafts village made up of many small cottages, all filled with quaint handmade items.
Experts will enjoy the Challenge course as well as the long crusing runs.
Intermediates will enjoy the variation of the different courses and the cruisers.
Beginners will want to stay on the Kitanomine side, as there is a much wider and flatter area, nicely groomed and suitable for learning and progressing.
In summary, there is something for all levels of skiers and riders at this resort...especially if you like pow.
From January, 2009
Snow condition on visit:
Deep pow and sunshine
Things I liked:
Long runs and great powder
Things I didn't like:
Difficult connection between mountains for beginners