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10 Fun Activities and Magical Places in Furano, According to a Singaporean Expat!

10 Fun Activities and Magical Places in Furano, According to a Singaporean Expat!

Date published: 28 April 2021
Last updated: 7 June 2021

Furano, a region in Hokkaido, is beautiful all year round. Located in a basin-shaped valley, the Furano area is a breadbasket for agriculture and dairy production, which is why Furano is also known as a treasure trove of excellent food. Its rolling hills and stunning mountain backdrops also make it a popular draw for tourists, especially in the spring and summer.

So what exactly can you look forward to in terms of scenery and activities here? Ms. Marilyn Ichihashi, the Singapore-born lady owner of B&B Plus+ Shooting Star, which she opened together with her husband in 2020, shares with us her top 10 picks for places of interest in Furano, along with some fantastic photographs!

Photo by: Masakazu Yoshida

Table of Contents
  1. 1. Japanese smelt fishing in Kanayama Lake: An exclusively Hokkaido activity!
  2. 2. Anpanman Shop: Designed to appeal to people of all ages
  3. 3. Nakafurano Lavender Festival: Where fireworks fall like shooting stars
  4. 4. Hiking up Mount Tokachi: For an overwhelmingly impressive view!
  5. 5. The Glass Forest: Shopping therapy and enjoyable experiences
  6. 6. Farm Tomita & Tomita Melon House: More than just flower fields!
  7. 7. Sembo Pass: Where you can take in all of Furano Basin at leisure
  8. 8. Furano Cheese Factory: Cheese it the way you want it
  9. 9. Cycling around Nakafurano's rural districts: Picture-perfect at every turn
  10. 10. B&B Plus+ Shooting Star: A peaceful place of respite
  11. Enjoy all of these places of interest in Furano!

1. Japanese smelt fishing in Kanayama Lake: An exclusively Hokkaido activity!

1. Japanese smelt fishing in Kanayama Lake: An exclusively Hokkaido activity!

Marilyn: "I was born in tropical Singapore, where there are no seasons because it's summer all year round, so you can just imagine how impressive any sort of winter activity is to me.

"One of these is Japanese smelt fishing, where you lower a fishhook into a hole made in the ice and try to catch a Japanese smelt or two. The joy you feel when you reel one in is simply indescribable! You can also warm yourself to a comfortable temperature in front of a heater tucked away inside a tent pitched on top of the ice.

"This is a great activity to try with family and friends that will help you to experience an interesting facet of winter life in Hokkaido."

Japanese smelt is native to Hokkaido, and ice fishing for smelt is a popular winter activity. Kanayama Lake in Minamifurano Town is a popular place to go to for high-quality smelt.

Staying nice and warm in a tent outdoors when the surroundings are below the freezing point is another exciting experience unique to Hokkaido's location up north.

Japanese smelt are usually fried before consumption, and because these fish grew in the clear and clean waters of the lake, they taste deliciously plain and light.

  • Kanayama Lake
    かなやま湖
    • Address Higashishikagoe, Minamifurano, Sorachi District, Hokkaido 079-2411
    • Phone: 0167-39-7000 (NPO Minamifurano Machizukuri Tourism Association)
      Period: Late January – Early March

2. Anpanman Shop: Designed to appeal to people of all ages

2. Anpanman Shop: Designed to appeal to people of all ages
Photo credit: Takashi Yanase's Shop - Anpanman Shop Furano

Marilyn: "This shop is located in the outskirts of Minamifurano Town, and it's filled to the brim with merchandise of Anpanman, a superhero character from my childhood, because the anime was broadcast in Singapore as well.

"I only found out that the show was based on a picture story book after I came to Japan! There's a fantastic art gallery on the second floor of the shop where you can view the original drawings of Anpanman as well.

"Some of the illustrations are even depicted in an unexpectedly attractive style that made me go, 'Anpanman is true art!' the moment I laid eyes on them."

The first floor of Anpanman Shop sells related merchandise, and the second floor is a museum gallery where highly artistic portraits and pictures of the beloved superhero character are on display.

You'll find a completely different Anpanman from his anime form here, and the stylistic variation here is wide enough to delight and appeal to people of all ages.

  • Takashi Yanase's Shop - Anpanman Shop Furano
    やなせたかしの店 アンパンマンショップふらの店
    • Address 3 Higashirokugo Furano Town, Hokkaido 076-0162
    • Phone Number 0167-29-2235
    • Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
      Closed: Thursdays
      Opening hours and shop holidays may differ depending on the season. Call the shop or visit the official website for the latest information before heading down.

3. Nakafurano Lavender Festival: Where fireworks fall like shooting stars

3. Nakafurano Lavender Festival: Where fireworks fall like shooting stars

Marilyn: "This festival held in Furano Lavender Fields is a simple affair that really exudes local charm. It's usually held in mid-July when the lavender is in full bloom.

"Start the festivities by going up Mount Hokusei on a lift and enjoying the area's beautiful lavender-filled landscape from a vantage point.

"Between evening and nightfall, stage performances are held. The locals will bring out mats, food, and drinks to picnic under the stars while being entertained by the shows.

"The festival climaxes with a fireworks display, and the spectacular sight of the lavender fields being lit up by glimpses of more than 4,000 pyrotechnics bursting in the sky is a fitting end to a wonderful event."

Every year, Nakafurano Lavender Festival is held in mid-July, the period where the blooming lavender fields are the most beautiful.

Over 10,000 visitors flock to the fields during this time to take part in the celebrations, with many also looking forward to seeing the fireworks show at a close distance to enjoy the fantastical atmosphere it creates, as the falling sparks are said to resemble the sight of a meteor shower!

The festival venue will be very crowded on the day itself, so all visitors are encouraged to make use of available public transportation options if possible, instead of arranging their own transport.

4. Hiking up Mount Tokachi: For an overwhelmingly impressive view!

4. Hiking up Mount Tokachi: For an overwhelmingly impressive view!

Marilyn: "The highest active volcano in the Tokachi Volcanic Group is Mount Tokachi. While you're hiking up the mountain, you'll definitely notice an unmistakable smell of sulfur lingering around.

"A round trip from the entrance of the mountain trail that starts from Tokachidake Onsen to the mountaintop and back should take about seven hours. After finishing the climb, be sure to drop by the hot spring facility nearby to soak your tiredness away - it's the perfect way to end your day."

Mount Tokachi is ranked among Japan's top 100 mountains and flower mountains. The bold and dynamic landscape scenery that can be found on its slopes is peculiar to active volcanoes.

This appeals to many mountain climbers and they come from far and wide to scale the mountain while taking in the sights. According to them, the panoramic view of the surroundings from the mountaintop on fair weather days is worth every effort!

  • Mount Tokachi
    十勝岳
    • Address Shirogane, Biei, Kamikawa District, Hokkaido 071-0235
    • Phone: 0167-45-3150 (Kamifurano Tokachidake Tourism Association)

5. The Glass Forest: Shopping therapy and enjoyable experiences

5. The Glass Forest: Shopping therapy and enjoyable experiences

Marilyn: "This is a quaint glass factory located in Furano Town's Rokugo area. The main building is a shop that sells glassware made from the workshop next door.

"It's chock-full of lovely things for sale, from decorations to practical items, and the whole place feels like an art gallery sometimes!

"If you like, you can also join one of their workshops that allows you to make your very own glassware using different methods, such as free-blowing or sandblasting."

Shibare Glass is a type of frosted glassware that the shop produces based on the motif of diamond dust. This is an original product that is only available here!

The entire production process takes about three to five years, where cracks are slowly added to the glass over time without breaking it until it turns into a unique pattern of its own.

All glassware here are made by hand and cannot be found anywhere else, making them perfect items to buy back as souvenirs for loved ones!

  • Glass Forest in Furano
    グラス・フォレストin富良野
    • Address 3 Rokugo Shigaichi, Furano, Hokkaido 076-0161
    • Phone Number 0167-39-9088
    • Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (summer); July – August; 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (winter)
      Closed: Open daily

6. Farm Tomita & Tomita Melon House: More than just flower fields!

6. Farm Tomita & Tomita Melon House: More than just flower fields!

Marilyn: "Most people immediately link Farm Tomita with its beautiful lavender and assorted flower fields, but there are actually plenty of other attractive facilities on the premises as well.

"My personal favorite is the Dried Flower House in the dried flowers arrangement exhibition space, which has been lavishly decorated inside with plenty of pink flowers of all types.

"It almost feels as if you've stepped into a fairytale world! The staff here are very hospitable as well, and everything is designed to make you feel happy about your visit."

It's not particularly well-known, but there's a lot of great-tasting snacks available for sale on Farm Tomita as well! Marilyn's recommendation is the melon bread being sold in the farm's Flower House.

This sumptuous pastry treat is stuffed full of cream made from melon juice, and only a limited number are available for purchase every day, so don't hesitate to buy one if you see it!

7. Sembo Pass: Where you can take in all of Furano Basin at leisure

7. Sembo Pass: Where you can take in all of Furano Basin at leisure

Marilyn: "Sembo Pass stretches from the area near the Goddess of Kannon statue on National Route 237 heading towards Asahikawa, all the way to National Route 581's Rubeshibe-Kamifurano Line.

"It's a great spot to sightsee Furano Basin and the Tokachi Volcanic Group all at once. The slopes here are also known as 'Patchwork Hills' due to farmland, and watching tractors till the fields with this impressive backdrop is quite literally the definition of picturesque. You won't find crowds here even during peak travel season, so take your time to admire the view at leisure."

Sembo Pass is known as one of Kamifurano's top eight scenic spots. Visitors are treated to a majestic sight of the Tokachi Volcanic Group and Furano Basin from the observatory deck here.

The observatory is also the starting point for a 10-kilometer (about 6 miles) long well-maintained footpath that's suitable for easy activities such as cycling or walking.

  • Sembo Pass
    千望峠
    • Address Sembo Pass, Kamifurano Town, Sorachi District, 071-0506 Hokkaido
    • Phone: 0167-45-6983 (Kamifurano Town Hall Development, Industries, and Tourism Department)

8. Furano Cheese Factory: Cheese it the way you want it

8. Furano Cheese Factory: Cheese it the way you want it

Marilyn: "Besides making and selling their own cheese products using the freshest milk available, Furano Cheese Factory also offers workshop experiences for visitors interested in trying to make their own butter, ice cream, cheese, or other dairy products.

"Although the instructors only speak Japanese, rest assured that they're all as friendly and helpful as can be. The steps to making these dairy products are also straightforward, so I would definitely recommend giving one of these activities a go even if you don't speak Japanese well or at all. Also, the cheese-flavored ice cream here is not to be missed!"

The milk used in Furano Cheese Factory products is taken from the Holstein dairy cows reared locally in Furano. One of the most popularly bought items here is "Wine Cheddar" - the very first of its kind in Japan.

Furano red wine is poured over fresh cheese to create a marble-like design on its surface, enhancing the cheese's looks and taste. You can also request to tour around the cheese factory to see how things are done on the inside!

Note, however, that this activity may not be offered during certain periods, as determined by the factory.

9. Cycling around Nakafurano's rural districts: Picture-perfect at every turn

9. Cycling around Nakafurano's rural districts: Picture-perfect at every turn

Marilyn: "Furano's rural area is just full of wonderful scenic sights - sunflower fields, grazing horses, golden stalks of rice grain swaying in the breeze, and more!

"If you get on a bicycle and go around the rural districts, it's almost a guarantee that you'll find something you like as you're cycling along. Just remember not to accidentally step into any of the fields being cultivated out of excitement when you're making a stop to take photos!"

Because even casual, daily scenes in Furano can look so pretty, plenty of photographs have chosen to make Furano the subject of their published works.

You'll find a lot of photo galleries open in and around Biei Town, and you can use the photographs on display as a reference on how to make your own shots look their prettiest.

10. B&B Plus+ Shooting Star: A peaceful place of respite

10. B&B Plus+ Shooting Star: A peaceful place of respite

Marilyn: "We opened B&B Plus+ Shooting Star in the rural area of Nakafurano in February 2020, and the concept behind our lodge is to 'let us color your life!' with packages that include special things like a yoga retreat or Singapore homecooked dinners.

"Being able to look out at Mount Tokachi and its surrounding mountains from across a wide field while having some breakfast in the dining area will be one of the more memorable sights of your trip for sure! My husband and I, as well as our little boss cat, are happy to welcome you here."

Photo by Masakazu Yoshida

So, what unique experiences can you expect to find in B&B Plus+ Shooting Star, besides warm hospitality? Yoga lessons from Marilyn herself, a registered yoga teacher certified by the Yoga Alliance, delicious cuisine made from fresh local ingredients, and homemade Singaporean dishes rarely found in the Furano region.

Marilyn's personal touches can be seen everywhere in the hotel as well - which she put inside for the sake of helping visitors to reach a state of ultimate relaxation during their stay. An experience that can be yours too, if you plan for a trip down to Furano as soon as you can!

Enjoy all of these places of interest in Furano!

Enjoy all of these places of interest in Furano!

There are many attractive spots in the Furano area, from beautiful scenery to local food delicacies. If it is your first time visiting Furano, you will probably wonder if you can see everything in one or two days. Rest assured that you can visit many times - or stay for a few days and enjoy it all. Take plenty of time to relax and enjoy all that Furano has to offer!

Text by: Masakazu
English translation by: Huimin Pan

The information in this article is current as of March 2021. Please check the official website for the latest information.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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