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.
Stations & Stopovers
ASAHIKAWA TO BIEI
Northern Hokkaido’s major transport hub, Asahikawa (population 331,000) is a good base for a train trip on the JR Hakodate Line (for Sapporo), the JR Soya Line (for Wakkanai), the JR Sekihoku Line (for Abashiri) and Asahidake Onsen (1hr 40min by bus). The city is straddles the clear rivers and laid out in a grid pattern. Asahikawa City Museum (0.8km) has excellent Ainu culture and historical displays. Asahiyama Zoo (10km) features wildlife of Hokkaido.
▼ The train crosses Chubetsu-gawa soon after leaving and heading south out of Asahikawa.
▼ Local train from Asahikawa stops at Kaguraoka (2.4km), Midorigaoka (4.0km), Nishi-Goryo (5.2km), Nishi-Mizuho (7.4km), Nishi-Kagura (9.9km), Nishi-Seiwa (12.3km), Chiyogaoka (16.6km) and Kita-Biei (20.3km).
Hokkaido’s most famous countryside on the distinctive undulating hills, Biei (population 9700) is something like a France’s mini rural village. The lovely train station was built in 1952 and using local shite stones. Patchwork Hills offer four scenic viewpoints overlooking the hill farming areas. Southeast Biei runs scenic Panorama Road overlooking the Tokachidake Mountains. The highland Shirogane Onsen (30min by bus) near the Blue Pond is an excellent point for a soak after a cycling.
BIEI TO FURANO
▼ 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 Kanno Farm (1.5km) and the Shikisai-no-oka (2km) scenic 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 (population 10,000) is a convenient jumping-off point for both Tokachidake Onsen (45min by bus) and great hikes on the Tokachidake Mountains in the southwestern part of Daisetsuzan National Park. Hinode Park (1km) has hillside lavender gardens and spectacular mountain views. Don’t miss Furanui Onsen (1km) in the town center.
▼ 44.2km Nishinaka 西中
Lavender Farm ラベンダー畑
The Furano-Biei Norokko Train stops at this seasonal station from June to September (No stop for the local train). Hokkaido’s most famous lavender garden, Farm Tomita (0.5km) is about 500m northeast of the train station.
▼ After you pass this station, look out for the hillside lavender garden (Hokusei-yama) on the right.
Just 10km north of Furano, the small rural town Nakafurano (population 4800) is a dream destination for flower lovers. In July the scenic hillside gardens are covered with lavender. Hokusei-yama (0.8km) is the town-managed hillside lavender garden with ski slopes. Saika-no-Sato (1km) is an another scenic hillside lavender garden. Farm Tomita (1.7km) is also within walking distance.
▼ 49.7km Shikauchi 鹿討
One stop before Furano on the line, Gakuden is the closest station to Furano Grape Juice Factory (0.6km) and Furano Winery (2km) on the scenic hills.
After crossing Furano-gawa, the train arrives in Furano (population 21,000) on the JR Nemuro Line (for Takikawa, Shintoku). 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, so you won’t miss out anything. In winter, the ski area is occupied by skiers and snowboarders.
Furano Ski Area (3km) is Northern Hokkaido’s largest ski resort with scenic slopes. Furano Marche (0.6km) has a good range of local specialities and souvenirs. Torinuma Park (5km) features a beautiful pond with spring water.
▶︎ DC 40 Asahikawa – Biei
▶︎ DC 150 Asahikawa – Furano
▶︎ Furano & Biei Norokko Train Asahikawa ● Biei – Furano
Timing June to October // Stops Asahikawa ● Biei ● Bibaushi ● Kamifurano ● Lavender Farm ● Nakafurano ● Furano
Ordinary Fare ¥1290