Furano, the Navel of Hokkaido (so called because of its location in the center of Hokkaido) is very popular with tourists from Japan and also other Asian countries in Summer. It is a perfect day trip from Hokkaido’s biggest city Sapporo. Especially in July when the lavender fields are in full blossom it is the perfect time to visit Farm Tomita, the biggest lavender farm in Furano.
For some reason, the “western” tourists from Europe and America don’t seem to have found out about the delights of Furano yet. I can count the western looking people I say in two days on one hand. There were about 3 of them.
On the other hand, the place was nearly overrun by Chinese and Korean tourists.
So, I would like to introduce to you Furano and give you an overview of what Furano attractions there are, what to do in Furano, Furano hotels you can spend the night at and so much more, so you can put this fascinating destination on your bucket list and maybe even visit during your trip around the world.
If you want to read more about Japan, check out my Japan travel blog category, and if you want to read more itineraries like this of places all over the world check out my travel itineraries category.
I took a plane from Tokyo Narita International Airport to Sapporo New Chitose Airport. My LCC (low-cost carrier) was a relatively new Japanese one called Vanilla Air. I have written a review about the flight and if you are interested I welcome you to have a look.
The flight only takes about 2 hours from Tokyo to Sapporo, so it is the fastest and most convenient option to reach Hokkaido. A flight with Vanilla Air or any other LLC can be as cheap as 175 US dollars for a return ticket. Check Skyscanner for the exact prices on your travel dates. The earlier you book the cheaper it will be.
Another option is to take the bullet train north all the way to Hokkaido. If you have a Japan Rail Pass the whole trip will be free for you. But it takes just under 8 hours to get to Sapporo and then another 2 hours to Furano.
If you want to know more about the Japan Rail Pass you can read my full guide with everything you need to know about it. I also answer the question if you need a Japan Rail Pass for your trip or not. If you already know you want a Japan Rail Pass you can purchase it online and have your voucher delivered within 2 days!
If you were wondering how to get to Furano from Sapporo I have all the answers for you.
Driving from Sapporo to Furano is the easiest way if you are arriving by plane. I rented a car at the airport and was in Furano in about 2 hours. Having a car around Furano is super convenient as it is the easiest way to get around the different places of interest in the area.
Check the rental prices on rentalcars.com right now. It’s super easy and let’s you compare the prices of all major rental car companies in Japan.
If you arrive by train, you can also take a train from Sapporo station to Furano station. You just need to change trains at Takikawa Station. The train ride also takes about 2 hours. The Sapporo to Furano train is also JR and therefore free if you are a Japan Rail Pass holder. If you want to visit Farm Tomita right away it is better to get off at Naka-Furano Station and walk the 1.7 km for there, it should take about 20 minutes.
Your third option is a Sapporo to Furano Bus. The bus from Sapporo Ekimae BT Bus Stop takes almost 3 hours but is much cheaper than the train, if you don’t have a JR Pass. It only costs 2260 yen one way (22 USD). To go directly from Sapporo to Farm Tomita, when you have arrived at the Furano bus stop which is in front of Furano Sation, you can either take a JR Furano Line train to Naka-Furano Station or another bus that also goes there. The price is almost the same. So it’s really up to you, and what is available when you arrive.
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Most tourist visit Hokkaido in winter, during the famous snow festival in February. I have also been there before, and I have to admit Hokkaido in February is beautiful. The thick blankets of snow everywhere and icicles reaching from the roof tops ten meters all the way to the ground.
But in my opinion the best month to visit Hokkaido is July, and summer is the best season to visit Hokkaido, when the beautiful lavender flowers are in full blossom. It is an amazing place to flee the humidity and heat of Tokyo and all the other southern parts of Japan. While Tokyo has temperatures in the high 30s, the Hokkaido weather in July will be mostly sunny and mild with only around 25 degrees celsius. This is really the best time to visit Furano.
By the way, if you were wondering ‘when is lavender in season?’ The Hokkaido lavender season is from early July to early August and that is when the Furano lavender fields are most beautiful.
Furano is a popular ski resort in winter, but the main reason to visit in summer are the famous Furano lavender fields. Hokkaido lavender used to be cultivated for commercial reasons, but when cheaper imports from other countries made it impossible for the Hokkaido lavender to compete the farmers there had an idea: Tourism!
Lavender not only smells good and has many uses, it is also beautiful to look at, and so the farmers of Furano made the transition to tourism. Successfully attracting huge crowds in the summer months during lavender season.
The biggest and most famous Furano flower farm is Farm Tomita with a wide area of lavender, but also other flower fields (there are also other flower farms in the area, such as Flower Land Kamifurano which you might want to check out as well). So, it is not only beautiful in July when the Furano lavender is in blossom but also in the other summer months.
Tomita Lavender Farm additionally sells many products made from lavender like perfume and soap, but also lavender drinks like Ramune (one of 25 unique Japanese drink you have to try while in Japan) and Hokkaido lavender ice cream.
The views are really an attraction in its own right and you can comfortably spend 2 to 3 hours just strolling through the flower fields and taking pictures while taking in the characteristic smell of the different flowers.
Once you have seen enough flowers at the Furano flower fields at Farm Tomita it is time to turn to something else: Japanese melons.
Japanese Melons are the Rolce Royce of fruit. They are the most expensive fruit in the world, being sold for hundreds of dollars a peace in department stores. They are usually presents for honored guests, or eaten at weddings. Something only bought for special occasions.
One of the regions where this delicacy is grown is Hokkaido. While driving through the villages of Furano you get the impression everyone is growing melons, there are also a couple of other things planted like onions and corn, but mainly you see melons.
On every corner, there are small stands selling the melons and sometimes watermelons. Depending on the quality of the individual melon (size, the pattern of the skin, shape, ripeness) the price ranges from 15$ to around 50$.
On our second day, on our way back to Sapporo we bought one to eat at night in our Airbnb. And had another one delivered home to Tokyo.
The taste is so rich and sweet you won’t believe it. I was never a huge fan of melons until now, but I have realized that was because of the lacking quality and taste. Melons are delicious.
While they sell melon soft serve ice cream at Farm Tomita Melon House, I recommend you visit a different place for an entirely different melon soft serve experience.
I recommend you visit a shop called “Santa no Hige” (Santa’s beard). They sell half a melon with a topping of melon and/or vanilla soft serve ice cream. In summer this is a refreshing treat and perfect for a little afternoon snack to cool yourself off.
There is delicious soft serve ice cream all over Japan. I eat it everywhere I go. And you should, too.
When you are already in the area I highly recommend taking a little detour to the blue pond. It is a curiosity of nature.
The water has a milky blue quality from the magnesium dissolved in the water. Standing in the middle of the pond is a cluster of dead tree trunks sticking out of the surface like arrows fired into the pond, giving the whole thing a surreal atmosphere a little bit like in a fairytale, or a magical world.
The pond is easily accessible by car and has a huge parking lot. You can stroll along the whole pond on a little path and see it from different angles.
The Google Maps information can be found here.
At the Furano Cheese Factory you can learn how the local cheese is made by following the production line behind glass windows. If you want to you can also make your own cheese, butter or ice cream at one of the workshops or taste the finished cheese at the factory shop, where you can buy cheesy souvenirs to take home.
If you rather try some wine, the Furano Winery is the place for you to go. Here the local grapes are made into delicious Furano wine. You can learn about the production of wine in this windery and of course taste different wine samples (just don’t try too many).
While a Sapporo to Furano day trip is possible, it is much better to spend the night in Furano. This is much less stressful than making the 2 hour journey back from Furano to Sapporo.
If you are on a tight budget, there aren’t that many hotels in Furano (Japan) to choose from. But there is a really cheap Guest House you might want to consider. A night in a dormitory costs only 2000 yen and a private room with shared bathroom starts from 3000 yen. The reviews are quite good and this simple place has everything you need to spend a comfortable night in Furano. Free Wifi, a clean shared toilet and bathroom and even a shuttle bus from Furano Station.
Book your stay at Log Yukari Guest House now via Booking.com!
You could also stay the night at Pension Lavender (Furano). If you prefere to have a comfortable night in a modern and bright lodge. Here you will have private rooms with a private bathroom. The rooms are equipped with a log fire (but you won’t need that during your visit in summer). The breakfast is supposed to be exceptional.
Check the prices for your travel dates at Pension Lavender via Booking.com now!
If you do have some more budget and want to stay in a nice, very Japanese hotel, I can recommend the Furano Prince Hotel, where I stayed. While getting on in years it is still one of the best options in Furano. The rooms are clean and the dinner consists of a big buffet with Hokkaido crabs and other delicacies. You can also enjoy a Japanese breakfast buffet.
Book a night at Furano Prince Hotel now!
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Furano is an amazing one or two day trip in Hokkaido. You can see the Furano Lanvender Fields at Farm Tomita, eat lots of delicious Japanese Melons (and melon ice cream) and visit the outer-worldly blue pond. Lastly you can learn about local cheese and wine.
But Hokkaido in July has so much more to offer. Include a one or two days stay in Sapporo and also consider visiting some other places like Otaru, one of the cutest port towns I have ever been to, and with the most delicious and fresh seafood you will ever taste.
And if you have even more time, head south and see all the highlights of Honshu, Japanese biggest island. You can follow my perfect 2 weeks Japan itinerary if you want a perfect mix of old and new, delicious food, and lots and lots of culture.
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None of the experiences in this post are in any way sponsored and have all been paid for by myself. The opinions stated are all my own and have not been influenced in any way.
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Lena is the creator of the Social Travel Experiment. Planning her trip around the world took a lot of effort. To make it easier for future world travelers she has made it her mission to teach others how to have an unforgettable trip around the world, through short stays with locals, without wasting valuable time or money.