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.
Asahikawa to Furano
DURATION: 1 hour
ORDINARY FARE: ¥1290
BEST TIME: July is the best lavender season / June to October for cycling and hiking
Biei ›› While Biei is a very easy day-trip from both Asahikawa and Furano for cycling on the scenic hills. The Blue Pond in Shirogane Onsen is a popular detour from Biei.
Kamifurano ›› The rustic countryside makes for a good few hours of strolling. Climbers and onsen enthusiasts come to the mountain foot of Tokachi-dake.
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 Furano Line. The city is straddles the clear rivers and laid out in a grid pattern.
BOARDING ›› 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 picturesque hilly fields spread like a patchwork, you can explore the memorable landscapes from the scenic road network by bike or on foot.
BOARDING ›› Biei’s lovely train station was built in 1952 and using local shite stone. The line between Biei and Bibaushi has a 28.6 per mille maximum gradient on the winding hills, the steepest rail section in Hokkaido.
DETOUR: 20km Southeast of Biei
Shirogane Onsen 白金温泉
The highland hot sprigs village of Shirogane Onsen is an excellent point for a soak after a hike or cycling, as well as hike to the Tokachi-dake Mountains. Dohoku Bus 39 and 42 runs between JR Biei Station and Shirogane Onsen via the Blue Pond.
Bibaushi sits on the border between Biei and Kamifurano. It is the closest position to the scenic Shikisai-no-oka (2km southeast) and Kanno Farm (1.5km northwest) flower gardens.
BOARDING ›› As you go down the pass, the active volcanic Tokachi-dake lie on the left.
On the northern side of the Furano Basin, this agricultural town is a convenient jumping-off point for both Tokachi-dake’s wonderful onsen and great hikes in the southwestern part of Daisetsuzan National Park.
BOARDING ›› The straight line on the Furano Basin runs across the fields.
Lavender Farm ラベンダー畑
No stop for the local train. The Furano-Biei Norokko Train stops at this seasonal station from June to September. The region’s most popular flower garden, Farm Tomita is about 500m northeast of the train station.
BOARDING ›› Look out for the town-managed hillside lavender garden (Hokusei-yama) on the right.
Just 10km north of Furano, this small rural town is a dream destination for flower lovers. In July the scenic hillside gardens are covered with lavender.
BOARDING ›› Note that a few trains don’t stop at two stations (Shikauchi and Gakuden) between Nakafurano and Furano.
One stop before Furano on the line, Gakuden is the closest station to Furano Grape Juice Factory (600m) and Furano Winery (2km) on the scenic hills.
BOARDING ›› After crossing Sorachi-gawa, the train arrives in Furano on the JR Nemuro Line.
The lively agricultural city of Furano is said to mark the geographical center of Hokkaido. 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 coming from all over the world.
CONNECTIONS: Trains for Takikawa and Shintoku
BOOK YOUR STAY ONLINE: FURANO
Furano has a spread of accommodation near the train station and the ski area. Room rates rise sharply during lavender and ski seasons. Kitanomine (北の峰) is a perfect base for skiing and plenty of hotels, pensions and condominiums. A number of lodges may be closed for about one month before and after ski seasons.