Furano resort review (Furano City, Hokkaido)

Furano City, Hokkaido
Submitted by andrewl on 3rd March 2003
Review submitted by 'John Little' before 2006
My wife and I are both intermediate skiers (skiing, on and off, for ten years) and we both enjoyed Furano tremendously. We stayed on the "Shin Furano Prince Hotel" side of the mountain, where the new ropeway whisks you 2KM up the mountain in just five minutes. There are two gondolas on this lift with a capacity of 100-persons each. You will have to wait (one gondola is on the down leg while the other is on the up), but with a five minute trip time, the queues are short (and this was the only lift on this side of the mountain where we had any wait at all).

We found the runs to be varied and challenging to intermediates. There are two mogul fields and a couple of "blacks" at the top and on the eastern side, with gentler slopes and long run-outs (suitable for beginners) near the bottom. There is one infuriatingly flat section between the tops of the "Family Romance" and "Downhill-2" lifts. This causes boarders major grief and skiers a lot of pole work and, because of the trees, doesn't even have the advantage of a decent view.

The "Spees" course, on the other hand, is a long run down the mountain with a maximum gradient of 32 degrees (average 15) which we found ideal. The steep sections at the top kept us busy and the longer run-outs at the bottom gave our thigh muscles a chance to recover (to tell the truth, we usually took a couple of breathers on the way down to admire the fantastic views and pop off a couple of photographs). We stayed here for three days and never got tired of this run.

The short, "Todomatsu" course near the bottom is another delight. In a sheltered valley, it's ideal for late afternoon or evening, or those days when the snow makes the top of the mountain unpleasant for all but the hardiest skier. This run has a couple of surprises (and an unofficial slalom round the lift towers). It is very short, but we skied it until we couldn't stand up and enjoyed every second.

Overall, there's a more balanced mix of skiers and boarders here than most other places in Japan and there are a surprisingly large number of mature skiers on the slopes. The wide pistes and low numbers (by Tokyo standards) mean that you're never in a crowd unless you want to be. There are also separate snow-mobile, snow rafting and tobogganing areas if you're here in a family group.

This resort offers really excellent value for short-stay ski trips from Tokyo. The deal we got from JAL included flight, bus service to/from the airport, hotel and all-day lift passes for a little more than Y10,000 per day. This included a very good all-you-can-eat breakfast (both Japanese and Western style) and a modern, quiet, on-suite room with a fantastic view of the mountains and the gelende.

Cons: A long way from the airport (Asahikawa is a one hour bus ride, Chitose is three hours). No night life. Late lift starts (the ropeway does open from 08:30, though). Probably not exciting enough for the very advanced skier or boarder.

Pros: No night life. :-) Quiet. Not too crowded. Great package deals available from Tokyo (if you have a couple of days, forget Echigo Iizawa and go to Furano instead). Great views. Excellent, mixed runs for the upper intermediate and for families. Night time skiing until 21:00.

I really must add a thank you to both JAL and the Shin Furano Prince Hotel for making this one of our most enjoyable and memorable trips ever.
Date visited: No specific date.
Snow condition on visit: --
Things I liked: --
Things I didn't like: --


Furano City, Hokkaido
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Average Rankings

General score: 77
Snow conditions: 66
Courses/Terrain: 71
Lift system: 80
Apres ski: 53

Basic Resort Statistics

Max. elevation: 1074m
Min. elevation: 235m
Vertical: 839m
Steepest slope: 34°
Longest course: 4000m
Number of lifts: 10

Location of Furano