Not Into Skiing? Here Are 6 Fun Winter Activities You Can Do in Furano, Hokkaido!

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  • Furano is a town in Central Hokkaido, famous for its lavender fields and sweet melon in the summer. However, Furano also boasts of its powdery snow during the winter and quite a number of ski resorts are present in the area. It’s actually great to visit Furano during the winter season because it is less crowded compared to Niseko and other famous towns for skiing. But if skiing is not your thing, below are some exciting winter activities offered by a company called Tour Guide Asobiya. “Asobi (遊び)” means “to play” while “ya (屋)” means “place,” so together, it literally means a place to play and enjoy!

    1. Snowshoeing

    Author’s photo

    If you like hiking or trekking, then snowshoeing will be enjoyable for you. It is a form of hiking during winter in which you use a special footwear called “snowshoe” to walk and a pair of trekking poles to help you balance. Preferably, you need to wear skiing clothes so that it is lightweight and waterproof, and so that sweat will easily dry out once you start ascending the mountain.

    Snowshoeing by Asobiya is in the Furano and Rokugou area, from December 1 to March 31, and is subject to weather conditions. The fee is 5,400 yen for adults and 4,320 yen for children (10 to 12 years old), which includes the snowshoes.

    2. Snowmobiling

    Author’s photo

    This motor sled or snow machine is very easy to operate, even for first-timers. The guide from Asobiya will explain the mechanics to you and in a matter of time, you’ll be able to enjoy the beautiful landscape while having an exhilarating ride.

    Asobiya offers snowmobile tours for 10 kilometers, 30 kilometers, and a one-day tour. The 10-kilometer tour is great if you want to experience riding the snowmobile near the mountains and rivers, while the 30-kilometer tour is longer and requires an adventurous spirit as you go to a more advanced trail. The 80-kilometer or one-day tour is, of course, the longest (from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM) and will allow you to go beyond the usual trail in Furano.

    The prices depend on your choice of tour and the machine that you will use (they have 250cc and 340cc). 340cc machines can be used for a tandem.

    3. Natural hot spring tour

    Going to an onsen (Japanese hot spring) is a local’s favorite in Japan, and there’s no better time to experience it but in winter. Furano still has many secret onsens that are undisclosed to the public and only Furano locals know about them. Asobiya will take you to one of these secret onsens if you join this tour. This secret hot spring is located in the mountains so get ready to walk, enjoy the winter scenery, and get tired before soaking your body in the relaxing water.

    The tour is limited to a group of 20 people. The fee is 4,320 yen for adults and 3,240 yen for children (3 to 12 years old).

    4. Winter night watching

    This tour offers an amazing stargazing experience. The guide will take you near the Daisetsuzan National Park where you can have a cup of hot drink and a wonderful conversation with friends under the bright starry skies of Furano. If you’re lucky, you can spot some animals, too.

    The tour is from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM, and the fee is 2,700 yen for adults and 1,950 yen for children.

    5. Snow tubing, rafting, banana ride, and snow carts

    At the Furano Snow Motor Land Course, you can enjoy these fun and family-friendly winter activities. Snow tubing has no time limit, while the duration of snow rafting and the banana ride depends on the course that you choose (2 or 5 kilometers). This is a great bonding opportunity for families, even those with small children. Also, you will be provided with all the safety equipment.

    Fees depend on the activity that you choose. Choose one, combine some, or choose all and enjoy a snow-filled day.

    6. Hot air balloon ride

    Winter is the perfect time to experience riding a hot air balloon because you can choose between a 20-minute or a 30-minute ride. It’s a great way to view the winter landscape of Furano while enjoying a truly memorable time.

    All of the activities mentioned here have safety precautions and insurance provided by the company. You can book these tours online via Asobiya’s website or by calling them directly at 0167-22-0534. They have an English-speaking staff available and they also offer summer tours from April to November.

    Furano is just a three-hour bus ride from Sapporo (fare costs 2,260 yen). You can also take a two-hour train ride using the JR Lilac/Kamui Line to Takikawa Station, then transfer to the JR Nemuro Line to reach Furano Station. The regular train fare costs 4,140 yen, but if you’re a tourist and have a JR Pass, then don’t worry as these lines are covered. Just remember to monitor the train schedule regularly in winter, as sometimes there is no service due to bad weather.

    Tour Guide Asobiya Website

    Would you like to stay in Furano? Check out all the hotels in the area here!