Skiing in Furano, Japan a great way to spend the hols

The view is magnificent as far as the eye can see.

Japan is a great option for skiing and you can usually ski right up until April. So if you are looking for a Chinese New Year or even Easter family getaway, it is a great option.

Furano is in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island and is a small resort ideal for families.

It is conveniently nearby with an AirAsia X overnight flight from Kuala Lumpur to Sapporo and offers great snow, excellent local food and fresh air. Furano is also a family-friendly, laidback ski area with a vast array of accommodation to meet everyone’s needs.

If great Japanese food and a good locally brewed beer or a hot-chocolate and early-to-bed holiday is enough for you and the kids, then this is the place to go.

However, if you’re looking for shopping and a wild nightlife then perhaps look elsewhere.

Accommodation: Chalet Fuyuri

Self-catering with children can be a life-saver. After a full day’s skiing, exhausted children can be difficult to take out for dinner. Food from home means the kids can wind down and play in the snow while a meal is being prepared or while awaiting food delivery.

The upside of eating at home in Furano is that it is super easy to find fresh produce from the supermarket which doesn’t need a lot of preparation.

Miso soup is always only ever a boiled kettle away, and the bakery in Furano is well stocked with delicious baked goods to fill the gaps in between.

However, if you do feel like eating out in the evening or grabbing a hot drink and a brownie in the morning there are great restaurants and bars nearby.

Beware that in February, it is cold in Furano and temperatures drop to -11°C with highs of -4°C.

Chalet Fuyuri offers two-bedroom accommodation with a kitchenette and the added bonus of a washer-dryer. This was a lifesaver with a family’s array of smelly socks, sweaty gloves and face masks.

At the end of the day you are able to ski right to the chalet. However, there is a short walk in the morning to the lifts, but that is a great way to warm up your muscles.

Staying close to the ski field means there is a 30-minute walk or bus ride to the town centre where you will find the supermarket and bakeries. The bus does run regularly as with all Japanese public transport.

There is however, enough to do, see, eat and drink on the hill if you prefer not to do the trek.

Skiing Furano

There are two connected zones to the Furano Ski Area: the Kitanomine zone and the Furano zone.

The Kitanomine zone offers more for beginners, with nice gentle slopes to start out on while Furano offers more for intermediate skiers. However, there is something for everyone, even the extreme skiers.

Only 20% of the on-piste area is advanced terrain, but don’t let this limit you as the real adventure lies in the back country off-piste skiing with seriously large amounts of powder.

For the kids who only get a few days every year, the immediate slopes are ideal with the occasional black run to get a squeal or two. And, if you feel the challenge isn’t enough there is plenty of ungroomed powder to sink your skis into.

The on-piste skiing runs are wide, well-connected, and in February, covered in soft powder. There is easy accessibility to lifts and gentle runs among the birch trees which may make you feel you have the mountain almost to yourself.

If the feeling of isolation is not for you and you are looking for company, don’t worry there is always a restaurant filled with diners hanging onto a hot chocolate, cold beer, or piping hot bowl of noodles.

Beware however that in February, it is freezing cold and temperatures drop to -11°C with highs of -4°C.

It is freezing cold in Furano, so make sure you have good quality clothing, gloves and goggles designed to keep you warm for those temperatures.

Ski rental

Sportpia Furano at the bottom of the Kitanomine Gondala offers efficient service with well-spoken English. There is a full range of gear available. If you are there for a length of time book a plan suited to how many days you will be skiing.

It means you can ski back to your chalet without having to return gear each day and be ready to get on the lifts as they open each morning.

Top tip for clothing: It is cold, freezing cold so do make sure you have good quality clothing, gloves and goggles designed for those temperatures. If you don’t have the gear, then hire.

Essential clothing

• Gloves – inner and outer

• Goggles

• Face masks

• Thermal underwear

• Woollen, or polar fleece inners

• Ski outerwear

• Ski socks

• Snow boots

Ski schools

Book ski schools well in advance. If you miss out there is sometimes a wait list, but don’t rely on that. There are two ski schools on the mountain: Furano International Snowsports School and Sportpia Furano.

Night skiing

Furano offers night skiing for those that don’t get enough during the day. The lifts are only open on the lower slopes but they are well lit and worth a few very cold but fun runs to finish your day.

Lifts

There are plenty of options for lifts in Furano from chair lifts to high speed quads and a gondola. Apparently, Furano has the fastest cable car in Japan.

Lift passes are free for kids 12 years old and under.

Getting to Furano and away

There are buses that leave from New Chitose Airport to Furano, one of which leaves in time for those coming off the Kuala Lumpur overnight flight and another three hours later.

There is also the option of a train but that is not as convenient from the airport and better suited if you are spending time in Sapporo either on the way to Furano or before leaving Japan.

If you are looking for other destinations in Japan with kids, read our Universal Studios Japan for Harry Potter Fans.

Happy Go KL is the go-to site for families in the Klang Valley. Their content is written by parents for parents, so you know where to get out and about with your kids in KL and the surrounding region.