Stretching across Hokkaido’s middle ground from Asahikawa to Furano passes through the rural towns, the 54km JR Furano Line ranks high on wish list in summer. Picturesque hillside breadbasket and flower gardens covered with colorful patchwork like a mini European village. You will find real onsen around the Tokachi-dake Mountains.
DURATION: 1 hour
ORDINARY FARE: ¥1290
BEST TIME: July is the best lavender season. June to October for cycling and hiking.
Nakafurano & Lavender Farm ›› In summer picturesque lavender gardens can be easily explored on foot from the both train stations.
Northern Hokkaido’s major transport hub, Asahikawa is a good base for a train trip on the JR Hakodate Line, the JR Soya Line and the JR Sekihoku Line. The city is straddles the clear rivers and laid out in a grid pattern. The train crosses Chubetsu-gawa soon after leaving and heading south out of Asahikawa along Route 237.
Hokkaido’s most famous countryside on the distinctive undulating hills, Biei is something like a France’s mini rural village. The lovely train station was built in 1952 and using local shite stone. The highland Shirogane Onsen near the Blue Pond is an excellent point for a soak after a cycling.
23.8km to 39.7km
Biei to Kamifurano
The line between Biei and Bibaushi has a 28.6 per mille maximum gradient on the winding hills, the steepest rail section in Hokkaido. Bibaushi is the closest position to the scenic Shikisai-no-oka (2km southeast) and Kanno Farm (1.5km northwest) flower gardens. As you go down the hills, the active volcano Tokachi-dake lies on the left.
On the northern side of the Furano Basin, the agricultural town Kamifurano is a convenient jumping-off point for both wonderful onsen and great hikes on the Tokachidake Mountains in the southwestern part of Daisetsuzan National Park.
The Furano-Biei Norokko Train stops at this seasonal station from June to September (No stop for the local train). The region’s most popular flower garden, Farm Tomita is about 500m northeast of the train station. After you pass this station, look out for the town-managed hillside lavender garden (Hokusei-yama) on the right.
Just 10km north of Furano, the small rural town Nakafurano is a dream destination for flower lovers. In July the scenic hillside gardens are covered with lavender.
One stop before Furano on the line, Gakuden (in Northern Furano) is the closest station to Furano Grape Juice Factory (600m) and Furano Winery (2km) on the scenic hills. A few trains don’t stop here.
After crossing Sorachi-gawa, the train arrives in Furano on the JR Nemuro Line. This lively agricultural city is said to mark the geographical center of Hokkaido and the main setting of the long TV drama series Kita-no-Kuni-kara . Tourist-friendly attractions and dining options dotted around the city (such as the rural village Rokugo) so you won’t miss out anything. In winter, the ski area is occupied by skiers and snowboarders.