Furano is the name for a town in Hokkaido but in reality it is more a collection of pretty little farming villages than anything else.
This part of Japan also goes by its nickname which is ‘Belly Button Town’ and the reason for this is that Furano lies in the exact center of the island of Hokkaido.
The Furano region is also famous for its winter sports so if you like skiing and snowboarding then this is one place you don’t want to miss.
If you are here in the summer months however you will also find a huge amount to enjoy and the fields that surround Furano are known for their lavender plantations as well as a wealth of other produce like juicy berries, melons and pumpkins.
Whenever you come to Furano there is a huge amount to do here, and this is also one of the most beautiful parts of the country that is well worth your time if you are planning to venture to Hokkaido.
Here are the 25 best things to do in Furano…
1. Visit Furano Cheese Factory
If you are a cheese lover then you mustn’t miss the chance to visit the Furano Cheese Factory.
This is actually a factory and a museum combined and dates from the 1980s.
The name is actually slightly misleading as they have a range of dairy products on offer and you learn how these are made as well as buy a range of diary based treats on site.
One of the signature snacks sold here is the squid ink cheese which is a startling black color thanks to the squid ink but which is delightfully oozy on the inside and reminiscent of Camembert.
You can also get hands on at the factory and learn now to churn your own cheese or ice cream.
2. Get out on the river
Furano lies on the beautiful Sorachi River which means that if you visit in the summer months you will be blessed with a huge number of fun water sports to enjoy.
If you are feeling adventurous then you can get out on the water and have a go at rafting or canoeing, and you can also try fishing straight from the river.
As if that wasn’t enough you can rent a kayak here and paddle down the waterway which is one of the best ways to take in the gorgeous scenery in Furano.
3. Explore Furano Brewery
Like much of Hokkaido, Furano is known for its beer and you can get a taste of this firsthand at the Furano Brewery.
This is located at the Kitanomine Ski Area and you will find a range of local beers here including dark ale, light ale and pilsner.
On a visit you can take a tour of the brewery to find out how the beers are made here with local ingredients that use seasonal ingredients and also sample some of these at the same time.
4. Tour Farm Tomita
Furano is known, during the summer season, for its flowers, so if you are in town at that time then you need to head to Farm Tomita which is one of the main attractions in the area.
The fields at Tomita Farm are covered in an array of gorgeous flowers including lavender fields that stretch as far as the eye can see.
As you would imagine, this is one of the best places to visit if you are on the lookout for some lavender products such as tea and ice cream.
5. Enjoy a harvesting experience
Furano is famous for its farms and in recent years these have started to offer a range of ‘harvesting experiences’ which allow you to get hands on and connect with nature.
A number of farms in the region will allow you to visit and also try your hand at harvesting the seasonal crops such as plucking fresh asparagus from the ground, or digging for jewel-like potatoes.
Several of the farms specialize in berries so you can go strawberry picking here as well as blueberry and raspberry picking.
6. Go climbing
The mountain climbing season in Furano runs from June onwards and this is one of the best places to climb in all of Japan.
You can take the Furano Ropeway into the hills around Furano and you can check out all the summer colors and flowers as you climb.
At the start of the season Shinto monks pray for the safety of hikers and climbers in the region so if you are in Furano in June then you will be able to watch some of these ceremonies taking place at the base of the various mountains around the town.
7. Tour Kami-Furano Pioneer Memorial Museum
Kami-Furano Pioneer Memorial Museum is a small museum which tells the story of Kami-Furano which is the northern region of the wider Furano area.
Here you can find galleries dedicated to the history of this region which are also filled with photographs of famous residents and you can also learn more about the geography and topography of this part of Japan.
There is also a flower garden here which is the ideal spot to stop off for a picnic.
8. Try the ramen
As you would expect in Japan, Furano is yet another town that is famous for its ramen noodles.
The reason to try these is that they are adapted to use local ingredients, and in this case the chewy noodles are topped with delicious local Furano cheese.
One of the most famous places to try these special kinds of cheesy noodles is Chizu Ramen-no-mise Karin which has been serving up steaming bowls to hungry customers for years.
9. Go skiing
Furano is known for its amazing skiing trails which are one of the reasons that many people come here.
This is down to the quality of the powder snow which is dry and has a very low moisture content, resulting in a crisp skiing experience and in the winter season there is around a meter of snow that falls every week.
You can go skiing in several places in Furano including what is known as Furano Zone and Kitanomine Zone.
There are a range of different runs for skiers of different abilities and you can also take a gondola rides or ropeway ride here.
10. Experience the Belly Button Festival
One of the main annual events held in Furano is the Hokkai Heso Festival which is also known as the Belly Button Festival.
The festival is usually held in July every year and had been held in Furano since 1969. Nowadays you can line up and watch a procession where men walk through the streets and have faces painted on their stomachs and wear costumes that expose their belly buttons.
There are also a range of other events held at this time such as dance recitals and musical shows so it is well worth trying to time your visit to coincide with the festival if you are planning to travel here in the summer months.
11. Tour Furano Jam Garden
Furano Jam Garden is one of the most famous spots to visit in the summer months and you can buy some of the most delicious jam in all of Furano here.
The farm is famous for the Auntie Jam Gift Shop and here you can try some 35 different varieties of jam and even have a go at making some of your own.
You can also walk around the farm and check out the berries that are used in the jam and find out how it is made on site.
12. Go hiking
In the summer season Furano is a great place to go hiking.
There are a range of different trails to enjoy such as Furano-dake, Tokachi-dake and Ashibetsu-dake and you can get a free map of the best routes to take from the main tourist office in town.
In the summer you can simply hike the trails and enjoy the weather and the flowery scenery, but if you travel to Furano in the winter then you can travel along the same trails but can try snowshoeing instead of simply walking.
This allows you to strap on a pair of snow shoes and glide over the pristine snow.
13. Visit a melon farm
Furano is known for its delicious fruits and vegetables but one of its most famous fruits is the Furano sweet melon.
You can find melon farms all over Furano which will give you the chance to see how the melons are grown and also sample summer of this sweet fruit in the summer months.
Another delicacy in Furano is soft serve ice cream which is presented to you in a bowl made out of half of a Furano sweet melon.
14. Go shopping for local products
Furano is known for a variety of local specialties and a great place to find all of these in one place is at the famous Ningle Terrace.
This is actually a selection of small shops and you can get well known local items here such as Furano wine and fresh carrot juice.
There is also a selection of craft shops here that sell things like silver items as well as paintings and glass ware.
The shops are all fashioned as traditional log cabins which also add to the atmosphere.
15. Ride on a tractor
If you are travelling to Furano with younger children then one activity that you mustn’t miss is the chance to go for a tractor ride.
These usually take place on the farms for which Furano is famous and you can sit in a cart behind the tractor and then relax and enjoy the ride as you are pulled along.
This lets you check out the local scenery and most rides have a commentary to fill you in on all the different aspects of farm life in Japan.
16. Visit Furano Winery
If you want to try the local tipple in Furano then you need to head to the Furano Winery where you can find wines that are made in the region.
These include both white and red varieties and you can also get the signature blend which is made with lavender.
There is also a kind of white wine sold here which is also made with a lavender infusion which creates a perfumed taste that is sure to remind you of Furano long after your visit.
17. Go cycling
If you want to get outside and explore Furano then one of the best ways to do so is by renting a bicycle.
There are a wide range of different cycle paths that you can use here and these include steep inclines which are great if you want to get off piste and rent a mountain bike, or you can also choose to cycle on paved roads for a smoother ride.
This is an especially good activity if you are visiting Furano in either the spring or autumn months when the weather is clement.
18. Go for a hot air balloon ride
If you want to get a look at Furano from a completely different vantage point then you may want to consider signing up for a hot air balloon ride.
There are a number of companies that provide this, or you can also sign up to go paragliding if you are feeling even more adventurous.
This will allow you to soar high above Furano and take in all the sights and you will have a guide with you to point out different parts of the countryside and make you feel safe and comfortable as you glide high in the skies above the region.
19. Visit Furano Hands On Workshop
If you want to learn how to make some of the most famous products in Furano then you need to head to the Furano Hands On Workshop.
Here you can learn how to make a variety of food items such as ice cream which is churned by hand as well as cheese and butter.
You can also try baking your own bread and of course you get to eat the fruits of your labors at the end of the process.
If you prefer you can also learn to make local handicrafts such as flower boxes, candles and even glass objects.
20. Soak in an onsen
You can’t come to Japan and not try the traditional onsen for which this country is famous.
These are traditional Japanese hot springs and they are the perfect way to relax at the end of a long day if you have been out in the countryside skiing or cycling.
There are three natural hot springs here which are located out of doors, or you can also try a wide variety of indoor hot springs which are the ideal spot to rest and soak your tired muscles.
21. Go wildlife spotting
Furano is known for a number of animals that only live here and not in other parts of the country including Ezo brown bears, Ezo deer, Northern foxes, and Ezo flying squirrels.
There are also a wealth of avians that bird watching enthusiasts can enjoy such as the Ural Owl, Hazel Grouse and Black Woodpeckers.
If you hike out into the neighboring countryside just outside of Furano proper then you will find a huge range of these animals in both the summer and winter months.
22. Attend Furano Wine Matsuri
Furano Wine Matsuri is the name for a festival which is held annual on the third Sunday of September.
This is meant to be a kind of harvest festival event and local growers attend to show off their wares.
This means that you can find a huge amount of fresh local produce on offer as well as specialty products like locally produced wines and jams.
23. Try the curry
If you want to try some of the local specialties in Furano then look no further than the omu-kare which is rice which is covered in an omelet and then served up with a thick slick of the local Japanese curry.
One of the most famous places to get this is at Kunen-kobo Yamadori who also add bacon bits to their curries and this restaurant is set in a rustic farmhouse setting which only serves to add to the atmosphere.
24. Go fishing
Furano is a haven for anyone who likes fishing and you will find a wealth of different fishing options here that allow you to enjoy this popular activity in the region.
In the winter months you can try ice fishing here and in the summer you can fish strait from the various rivers and lakes that dot the region.
Many hotels will arrange a fishing trip for you and this usually comes with a local guide who will take you out and then set up a barbecue next to the river so that you can immediately cook your fish for one of the freshest meals that it is possible to have in Furano.
25. Play a game of golf
If you like golf then you will be in luck in Furano.
There are a number of different courses that you can try scattered around the edges of the town and these include large 18 hole greens as well as smaller facilities.
There are also some courses that are perfect for younger visitors who want to play a round of mini golf, and this is a way to take in the serene surroundings and flowery vistas that have truly put Furano on the map.