From 1907 to 1981 this rail line was the main route to Eastern Hokkaido from Sapporo via Furano. Traveling alongside Sorachi-gawa river from Takikawa you encounter the old coal mining towns, Northern Hokkaido’s top ski resort and the pleasant artificial lake Kanayama-ko. After crossing the Karikachi Pass, the majestic Tokachi Plain awaits you.
ORDINARY FARE: ¥2860 (Valid for 2-day)
▶︎ DC 40 Takikawa – Furano – Higashi-Shikagoe
LIMITED EXPRESS (Seasonal)
▶︎ Furano Lavender Express Sapporo – Takikawa – Furano
TIMING June to September // DURATION 2hrs // STOPS Sapporo ● Iwamizawa ● Takikawa ● Ashibetsu ● Furano
STATIONS & STOPOVERS
LEGEND ⬇︎︎ Route Info // ☆ Attractions // ♨︎ Onsen // ☞ Transfer
TAKIKAWA TO FURANO
About 80km northeast of Sapporo on the JR Hakodate Line, Takikawa is a start of the JR Nemuro Line. You will have a layover if you are heading east to Furano.
◎ POP Takikawa-shi 39,000
⬇︎︎ 7.2km Higashi-Takikawa 東滝川
⬇︎︎ The train crosses Sorachi-gawa, the longest tributary of Ishikari-gawa.
Akabira holds the original forms of old mining remnants. The 6-storey train station facing the Old Akama Coal Mine has a rooftop observation deck (May-Oct).
☞ Sunagawa (58min) via Utashinai (13min)
☆ Zuri-yama Stairs (0.9km) Old Akama Coal Mine formed the 130m-high big artificial mountain.
☆ Akabira Coal Mine Guidance Facility (0.8km) Does guided tours with a former miner.
◎ POP Akabira-shi 9600
⬇︎︎ Soon after Akabira, look out for the Old Sumitomo Akabira Coal Mine (opened in 1968 and closed in 1995) with a 43.8m-high pithead on the right.
⬇︎︎ 17.2km Moshiri 茂尻
⬇︎︎ 20.7km Hiragishi 平岸
Ashibetsu was also once Sorachi’s major coal mining town. You can switch to Chuo Bus here for a scenic byway to Asahikawa passes through Shinjo and Kamuikotan.
☞ Asahikawa (1hr 20min)
◎ POP Ashibetsu-shi 12,000
⬇︎︎ 30.5km Kami-Ashibetsu 上芦別
⬇︎︎ 35.2km Nokanan 野花南
⬇︎︎ A few kilometers after Nokanan you spend about 10 minutes in Takisato Tunnel (5595m) and Shimanoshita Tunnel (2839m), then you meet the charming city of Furano across Sorachi-gawa.
Furano 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.
☆ Furano Marche (0.6km) Has a good range of local specialities and souvenirs.
☆ Furano Ski Area (3km) Northern Hokkaido’s largest ski resort with scenic slopes.
☆ Torinuma Park (5km) This forest park features a beautiful pond with spring water.
◎ POP Furano-shi 21,000
FURANO TO SHINTOKU
⬇︎︎ 60.9km Nunobe 布部
Yamabe is the base for climb to the sharp-edged Ashibetsu-dake (1726m) on the rugged Yubari Mountains, where you can admire the mountain from the platform.
☆ Yamabe Natural Park Taiyo-no-Sato (4km) Trailhead of Ashibetsu-dake with a campsite.
☞ Shimukappu (25min)
⬇︎︎ After pass through Sorachi-gawa Tunnel (2255m), the train crosses the picturesque artificial lake Kanayama-ko and follows the southern shore.
Currently all local trains on the JR Nemuro Line from Takikawa end this lakeside unstaffed station near the limestone quarry. The holiday resort Kanayama-ko Forest Park is about 3km northwest of the train station across Shikagoe-ohashi bridge. Alternative JR buses (列車代行バス) connect Higashi-Shikagoe with Shintoku (1hr) on Route 38.
☆ Kanayama-ko (0.1km) 36-sq-km artificial lake surrounded by coniferous forest.
☆ Kanayama-ko Forest Park (3km) Has pleasant lodges and campsites overlooking the lake.
Minamifurano’s other popular sight is the nostalgic Ikutora Station, the setting for scenes in Poppoya (Railwayman ● 1999), used as the late-1980s Horomai terminus. Takakura Ken (1931-2014), one of Japan’s most famous actors, played here as the last station master. The train station has exhibits movie props and photos, where a red diesel car stands in front of the building.
☞ Shimukappu (1hr) via Tomamu (30min)
☆ Minamifurano Ski Area (1.2km) Has a fine view over the lake.
◎ POP Minamifurano-cho 2300
⬇︎︎ 108.2km Ochiai 落合
⬇︎︎ Stopping after Ochiai, alternative JR buses cross the dynamic Karikachi Pass (644m) on the border of Kamikawa and Tokachi regions. Most buses pause at Sahoro Resorto with ski slopes, hotels and the Bear Mountain.
The refreshing highland town Shintoku is a main gateway of Western Tokachi and famed for high-quality soba. The train station area has some excellent noodle shops. You will have a layover if you are continuing east to Obihiro on the JR Nemuro Line or west to Sapporo on the JR Sekisho Line.
☆ Shintoku Soba-no-Yakata (5km) Offers tasty soba noodles from its own farm.
☆ Sahoro Resort Ski Area (12km) Eastern Hokkaido’s premier ski resort with 21 slopes and 8 lifts.
♨︎ Tomuraushi Onsen (60km) Wonderful hideaway sits at the base of Tomuraushi-yama (2141m).
◎ POP Shintoku-cho 5800