Strong traditions mean the city is most appealing to families and more mature skiers rather than the young crowd, although with around 100 bars, including a few Western-style establishments, there are options for lively après-ski in Furano.
In Kitanomine, Ajitos (tel: +81 167 224 022) is an eclectic Japanese bar with billiards, meals, and occasional live music open to 0200 Tuesday to Sunday. Yama no Doxon Brewery (tel: +81 167 225 599), also in Kitanomine, pairs cured meats with local beers; its delicious curry sauce is exported all over Japan.
At the base of the Furano Zone, the Top of Furano Bar offers a typical 'all you can drink' option where a few thousand Yen will grant you bottomless glasses of beer, whisky, or other drinks for a set time. In town there is no shortage of Izakayas (traditional Japanese pubs) and much-loved karaoke bars.
For a big night out, take a train to Asahikawa (one hour away) where there are 1,500 bars to sample.
Dining out is a major pastime in the region and, as such, there are around 100 small restaurants in Furano – most serving traditional Japanese and regional specialities. Among the dishes to try are shojinryori, a vegetarian meal popular with Zen Buddhists; yudofu, a low-calorie tofu based dish ideal for winter; and kaisekiryori, an artistic and authentic regional dish.
Good choices for sushi include Topical (tel: +81 166 220 070), with a sushi train of ready-made dishes or a specialised menu available in English. For a more formal sushi meal, try Fukuzushi (tel: +81 167 232 617), located near the train station.
Visitors with more international tastes will enjoy the French creations of the Michelin-trained chef at Le Chemin (tel: +81 167 232 004) in Kitanomine. Furano grows delicious corn, potatoes and asparagus, so even Japanese restaurants often feature western ingredients on their menus. Vegans and their friends will enjoy the food and music at Navo (tel: +81 167 567 993), a lively restaurant in town with a great children's play area.
Beyond the slopes
At heart a small Japanese country town, Furano is proud of its food, art and cultural heritage and is enthusiastic about sharing these with visitors and keeping traditions alive. So during the peak of the ski season, the town hosts various events, festivals and traditional dance performances; the latter of which brave visitors can join in with.
Other cultural attractions include the Goto Sumio Museum of Art (tel: +81 167 456 181; www.gotosumiomuseum.com), Japan's most celebrated watercolour gallery. You can also visit the traditional Furano Cheese Factory (tel: +81 167 231 156; www.furano-cheese.jp) located a five-minute drive from the ski slopes, or the Furano Winery (tel: +81 167 223 242), which is 15 minutes from the ski slopes by car.
You can book in to make pottery at Café Nora near the Cheese Factory (tel: +81 167 22 8929) or melt glass to make beads at the Glass Forest Furano in Rokugo, about a 30-minute taxi ride from the Kitanomine Zone (tel: +81 167 39 9088).
Lots of other, more expected, ski resort activities are also available, including horse riding, hot air ballooning, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and ice hole fishing; and of course no trip to Japan would be complete without a relaxing dip in a traditional onsen (hot springs).
Furano's strong community ethos and wide-ranging activity options make it a good choice for families.
An international standard kids' care centre is available at the resort, along with English speaking ski schools. Special 'children's slopes', with easy-to-use lifts, are also available at the base of the hill.
Though holidaying in Japan is not necessarily cheap, costs for families at Furano remain competitive, with children aged 12 or younger receiving a free lift pass.
There is a good range of shopping in Furano town, including the Furano Marche with local food, a farmer's market, and souvenirs.
The best place to find handicraft is Ningle Terrace at the base of the Furano Zone. This delightful arts and crafts village is next to Kan Kan Mura, a winter wonderland with a 200m (650ft) tube slide for children of all ages and an ice bar for the adults.
For a wider choice, head to the nearby city of Asahikawa, which can be reached easily by accessible rail and bus links.
Bored of traditional chairlifts? Try kite skiing with MPG Paragliding (tel: +81 167 23 6638; www1.odn.ne.jp), which offers adrenaline junkies the chance to fly up a mountain, before eventually riding back down it.
There is a good selection of accommodation in Furano, from family-run hotels to chain brands, a backpacker hostel for those on a budget, and a good selection of lodges and apartments to rent.
Furano is also home to a range of guest houses for those looking for a more authentic Japanese experience. These include minshuku (Japanese inns), where guests can sample home-cooked Japanese food and sleep on traditional futons.
New Furano Prince Hotel
Furano's largest and best known hotel, the New Furano Prince Hotel has more than 400 rooms and provides direct ski-in/ski-out access to the slopes. There are several on-site cafes, bars and restaurants, and downtown Furano is just a short bus or taxi ride away.Address: , Nakagoryo, Furano,
Telephone: +81 167 22 1111
New Furano Hotel
Not to be confused with the New Furano Prince Hotel, this – now slightly dated – moderately priced hotel has spacious rooms affording great views over the city and is located just 200m (650ft) from the slopes.Address: , 14-38 Kitanomine-cho, Furano, 076-0034
Telephone: +81 167 222 411
Boasting its own onsen and a restaurant, Edel Warme is a short walk to Furano's ski area (and a shuttle is usually available) and around half an hour from the town itself. It is therefore a good option for skiers who are planning to hit the slopes most days.Address: , 9-20 Kitanomine-cho, Hokkaido 076-0034,
Telephone: +81 167 22 1161
A modern hotel with a reputation for its relaxed atmosphere, which includes jazz in the lobby, the Natulux Hotel is centrally located in Furano next to the coach and train stations and provides guests with friendly, efficient service. It's a 10-minute drive to the slopes.Address: , 1-35 Asahicho, Furano, 076-0026
Telephone: +81 167 22 1777
A small traditional Japanese hotel where the main attraction is the convenient location, being situated just a few steps from the main lift. Kitanoyado Mone boasts facilities including flat screen TVs in rooms and laundry services.Address: , 14-25 Kitanomine-cho, Furano, 076-0034
Telephone: +81 167 22 4247
A comfortable but older hostel with dormitories, double rooms and communal bathrooms and kitchens located just one block from the slopes.Address: , 14-6 Kitanominecho, Nakafurano, 076-0034
Telephone: +81 167 221 311
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