Furano is one of Japan's most famous ski resorts, although relatively little is known about it outside of Japan. Situated in the middle of Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island, Furano benefits from Siberian storm systems that pass over the Sea of Japan and then dump the lightest and driest snow in all of Hokkaido - and 9 meters of it each season. The Furano Ski area is made up two zones, the Kitanomine zone (Mid. Dec - Late Mar) and the Furano zone (Late Nov - Early May). Both areas have a variety of accommodation options and the town of Furano is only a 3 min shuttle from the Kitanomine zone and a 6 min shuttle away from the Furano zone, and is home to a wide array of restaurants and bars and all the services you would expect to find in a town. Both of these zones can be accessed on the one pass and are serviced by 11 lifts. Furano has an abundance of varied terrain for every level of skier and snowboarder and a vertical drop of over 950 meters making it one of the steepest mountains in Hokkaido. There are a number of restaurants and cafeterias open on the mountain during the ski season. At the base of both the Kitanomine Gondola and the Furano Ropeway (cable car), there are decent restaurants where you can get a wide variety of good, hearty and healthy meals. At the top of the ropeway in the Furano Zone there is also a small European style café restaurant with a fireplace to sit by. There are a variety of choices for all diets and tastes if you look for it and all the food is reasonably priced. There is also food, drinks and beers available at vending machines right across the hill at different points. All drinks are also very reasonably priced. At the base of the Kitanomine gondola you can find the Snow Dome Festival site. This is a great area to grab a bite to eat after skiing, have a relaxing drink, hot wine, beer or hot chocolate, and unwind in a small country festival atmosphere. Furano's history dates back centuries, as the area was originally inhabited by the indigenous Ainu people. The town flourished during the late 19th century when the Hokkaido Development Commission initiated the colonization of the region. The pioneers introduced agriculture and established the foundations of Furano's farming community. Today, Furano remains an agricultural hub, known for its vast fields of crops, including the renowned lavender fields that have become an iconic symbol of the region. The town's cultural heritage is celebrated through various festivals and events. The Furano Belly Button Festival, held annually in July, pays homage to the town's farming roots and features lively parades, traditional music, and a market showcasing local produce. The Furano Wine Festival in August is another highlight, where visitors can sample a variety of wines produced from Furano's fertile soil. Furano's natural beauty is truly captivating, offering awe-inspiring landscapes throughout the year. One of the town's most famous attractions is the lavender fields, which bloom in vibrant hues of purple and create a picturesque panorama. The lavender season typically runs from late June to early August, attracting throngs of visitors who come to witness the stunning spectacle and immerse themselves in the soothing scent. Beyond lavender, Furano boasts a plethora of other captivating natural attractions. In spring, the cherry blossoms paint the town in shades of pink, creating a dreamlike ambiance. The Tokachidake Mountain Range, part of the Daisetsuzan National Park, offers breathtaking hiking trails and mesmerizing vistas. Visitors can explore the enchanting Blue Pond, famous for its turquoise waters, or relax in the hot springs of the Furano Ski Resort during winter. No visit to Furano is complete without indulging in its culinary delights. The town's fertile soil and favorable climate provide the perfect conditions for producing high-quality ingredients. Furano is known for its delicious melons, potatoes, and corn, which are used in various local dishes. The region's dairy products, particularly its cheese and ice cream, are also highly regarded. Visitors can sample Furano's culinary offerings at local restaurants and cafes, which serve traditional Japanese cuisine, including mouthwatering ramen, sushi, and fresh seafood. For those seeking a unique experience, the Furano Cheese Factory offers tours where visitors can witness the cheese-making process and taste a variety of artisanal cheeses. Furano's warm hospitality and cozy accommodations enhance the overall experience for visitors. The town offers a range of lodging options, including luxurious hotels, charming guesthouses, and traditional ryokans. Many accommodations provide stunning views of the surrounding landscapes and easy access to the town's attractions. The local hosts take pride in offering exceptional service, ensuring that guests feel welcome and comfortable throughout their stay.
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Kiroro is a smallish ski resort on the Northern island of Hokkaido. Close to Niseko it enjoys mountains of snowfall (approx 12m per year), without the crowds and has that family friendly feel. Less well known, Kiroro is the hidden gem of the region, only an hour North-East of Niseko. Usually receiving more snow than its sibling resorts, locals come to Kiroro to escape the lift lines and find deep untracked tree-skiing. Lift lines are rare and even when the snow does stop falling, fresh tracks can be found for days. There are 21 runs ranging from 400m-4,050m in length, with a good spread of difficulties, split almost evenly between green, red (blue), and black. Kiroro is situated in the southwestern part of the Shiribeshi subprefecture of Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost island. It is conveniently located approximately 90 minutes away from New Chitose Airport, the primary gateway to Hokkaido, making it easily accessible for both domestic and international travelers. The resort provides shuttle services from the airport, ensuring a seamless journey to this winter wonderland. One of the most compelling reasons to visit Kiroro is its legendary snowfall. Known as the "Champagne Powder," the region receives an average of over 20 meters of snow each winter. This light, dry, and fluffy snow creates excellent skiing and snowboarding conditions, attracting winter sports enthusiasts of all skill levels. Kiroro offers a range of ski slopes catering to different abilities. From gentle beginner slopes to challenging advanced runs, there is something for everyone. The resort features over 20 ski trails, including wide-open groomed pistes, thrilling tree runs, and steep off-piste areas for the more adventurous skiers and snowboarders. Additionally, the resort boasts an excellent snow park with jumps, rails, and other features for freestyle enthusiasts. Kiroro offers a variety of accommodation options, including luxurious hotels, condominiums, and cozy mountain lodges. The resort's hotels provide direct access to the slopes, allowing guests to ski-in and ski-out with ease. Many accommodations feature hot springs, known as "onsen," where visitors can relax and rejuvenate after a day on the slopes. The onsens provide a traditional Japanese bathing experience and offer stunning views of the surrounding snow-covered mountains. In addition to exceptional lodging, Kiroro offers a range of amenities and services to enhance visitors' experience. The resort boasts several restaurants serving delicious Japanese and international cuisine, ensuring that every palate is satisfied. Visitors can also indulge in après-ski activities, such as shopping for local crafts and souvenirs, enjoying live music performances, or simply cozying up by a fireplace with a warm drink. While Kiroro is primarily known for its superb skiing and snowboarding, the region offers a myriad of off-slope activities for those looking to explore further. Guided snowshoe tours allow visitors to immerse themselves in the serene winter landscape and discover hidden corners of the area. Snowmobiling adventures provide an adrenaline rush as riders navigate through the snow-covered forests. For a more tranquil experience, visitors can take a scenic horse-drawn sleigh ride and enjoy the picturesque surroundings. For those interested in Japanese culture, Kiroro offers opportunities to partake in traditional activities such as tea ceremonies, calligraphy lessons, and kimono dressing experiences. Visitors can also learn about the local Ainu culture, the indigenous people of Hokkaido, through workshops and cultural performances. Beyond winter activities, Kiroro's location makes it an ideal base for exploring the surrounding region. Visitors can embark on day trips to nearby attractions, such as the charming port city of Otaru or the vibrant city of Sapporo, famous for its annual Snow Festival. These excursions provide a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage and culinary delights of Hokkaido. One aspect that sets Kiroro apart is the genuine warmth and hospitality of its people. From the moment visitors arrive, they are greeted with friendly smiles and a genuine eagerness to make their stay unforgettable. The staff at Kiroro's resorts and facilities go above and beyond to ensure guests feel welcome and well taken care of, adding an extra layer of charm to the overall experience.
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Tomamu Ski Resort in Hokkaido is the most extravagant of the Hokkaido ski resorts, with a 50 metre wave pool, glamorous restaurants and peculiar looking sky-scraper hotel towers. When you see the size of the hotel towers at the base, you’d think that the Tomamu ski area must be the size of Whistler Blackcomb. Then you remember you’re in Japan where the ski resorts are only small to medium sized and Tomamu Ski Resort is no exception. The Tomamu ski resort also caters really well to families and the young at heart, with an adventure terrain park and a kids-specific park. Officially the ski resort is 145 hectares in size (which probably only refers to the piste) with 28 courses (ie trails) and a vertical drop of 699 metres (540-1,239m). The ski area offers a variety of terrain including a great beginner area, various groomers for intermediates, and a couple of advanced mogul runs. The "expert" courses and off-piste skiing are certainly a drawcard for the advanced skier and snowboarder, whilst the sidecountry and backcountry areas around Tomamu are a major bonus. Known for its stunning natural beauty, Tomamu has become a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking a unique vacation experience. From its snow-covered landscapes in winter to its lush greenery in summer, Tomamu offers a wide range of activities and attractions that cater to visitors throughout the year. One of the main draws of Tomamu is its exceptional ski and snowboarding facilities. The region receives abundant snowfall during the winter months, creating perfect conditions for winter sports. The Tomamu Ski Resort is a paradise for skiers and snowboarders of all levels, with a variety of well-groomed slopes and trails to suit different abilities. The resort features modern lifts, rental equipment, and expert instructors, making it an ideal destination for both beginners and experienced winter sports enthusiasts. Beyond skiing and snowboarding, Tomamu offers a host of other winter activities to keep visitors entertained. Visitors can embark on exhilarating snowmobile rides, go snowshoeing through pristine forests, or try their hand at ice fishing in frozen lakes. Additionally, the resort boasts the Ice Village, a magical wonderland constructed entirely out of ice and snow. Here, visitors can explore ice sculptures, enjoy ice slides, and even spend the night in ice hotels for a truly unique and unforgettable experience. In the warmer months, Tomamu transforms into a lush green oasis, offering a completely different set of activities. The surrounding landscape becomes a paradise for hikers, mountain bikers, and nature lovers. The region is dotted with numerous hiking trails, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the stunning alpine scenery and observe the diverse flora and fauna. The Unkai Terrace, located at the top of the mountain, offers breathtaking panoramic views of the sea of clouds, which often forms in the early morning hours, creating a surreal and awe-inspiring sight. For those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation, Tomamu is home to luxurious hot spring resorts known as "onsen." The mineral-rich waters of the onsens are believed to have healing properties and provide a soothing retreat for weary travelers. Immerse yourself in the warm waters while admiring the surrounding natural beauty, and let the stress melt away. Tomamu also caters to families and children with its range of family-friendly activities and amenities. The resort features indoor and outdoor pools, thrilling water slides, and a wave pool at the Tomamu Resort Center, ensuring that visitors of all ages can have a splashing good time. There is also a kids' club and childcare services available, allowing parents to enjoy some leisure time while their children are engaged in supervised activities. When it comes to accommodation, Tomamu offers a variety of options to suit different preferences and budgets. From luxurious hotels with panoramic views to cozy cottages nestled amidst the woods, visitors can find the perfect place to rest and unwind after a day of exploration and adventure. In addition to its natural attractions and recreational activities, Tomamu has a vibrant culinary scene that showcases the best of Hokkaido's renowned cuisine. The region is famous for its fresh seafood, succulent Hokkaido beef, and dairy products such as cheese and ice cream. Visitors can indulge in delicious local delicacies at the numerous restaurants and food stalls in and around the resort.
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Shiga Kogen, located in Nagano Prefecture, Japan, is a picturesque mountainous region renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, abundant wildlife, and exceptional skiing opportunities. Spread across the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, it encompasses a vast area of approximately 13,000 hectares, making it the largest ski resort in Japan. Shiga Kogen offers an array of attractions and activities throughout the year, attracting nature enthusiasts, outdoor adventurers, and winter sports enthusiasts alike. Let's delve into the captivating world of Shiga Kogen and explore its unique features, cultural significance, and recreational offerings. Geographically, Shiga Kogen is nestled in the northern part of Nagano Prefecture, bordering the famed Jigokudani Monkey Park, which draws tourists from around the globe. Its location at an altitude of 1,300 to 2,300 meters above sea level blesses it with abundant snowfall and a long winter season, making it a haven for skiers and snowboarders. The region boasts an impressive ski season from mid-November to early May, offering enthusiasts an extended period to enjoy the powdery slopes and world-class facilities. Shiga Kogen's ski resort features a unique interconnected system of twenty-one ski areas, providing an unrivaled variety of slopes suitable for all skill levels. From gentle beginner slopes to challenging advanced runs, there is something for everyone. The resorts offer excellent infrastructure, including well-groomed trails, modern ski lifts, and top-notch amenities, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable skiing experience. The snow quality in Shiga Kogen is exceptional, renowned for its powder snow, which is light, dry, and perfect for carving tracks through the picturesque winter wonderland. One of the standout features of Shiga Kogen is its integration with the surrounding natural environment. Unlike many other ski resorts, Shiga Kogen remains in harmony with its surroundings, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the beauty of the surrounding mountains and forests. The area is home to an abundance of wildlife, including the famous snow monkeys that inhabit the nearby Jigokudani Monkey Park. Visitors can witness these delightful creatures bathing in natural hot springs, an extraordinary sight unique to this region. Beyond winter sports, Shiga Kogen offers a multitude of activities for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. In the summer months, the region transforms into a lush green landscape adorned with colorful alpine flowers, making it an ideal destination for hiking and exploring. Numerous trails wind through the mountains, providing breathtaking panoramic views and opportunities to encounter diverse flora and fauna. Exploring the trails of Shiga Kogen offers a serene and rejuvenating experience, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The natural hot springs, or onsens, are another highlight of Shiga Kogen. After a day of skiing or hiking, visitors can indulge in the therapeutic and relaxing experience of soaking in the rejuvenating waters of these traditional Japanese hot springs. The area is dotted with a variety of onsen resorts, each offering its own unique setting and atmosphere. The hot springs provide not only physical relaxation but also a chance to immerse oneself in Japanese culture and traditions. Shiga Kogen is also steeped in cultural significance. The region has a rich history dating back to ancient times, and remnants of its past can still be observed in the local customs and traditions. The nearby Yudanaka-Shibu Onsen village, for instance, is a historic hot spring town that exudes a traditional Japanese atmosphere. Visitors can explore its narrow streets lined with charming ryokans (traditional inns), shops selling local crafts, and small restaurants offering regional delicacies. This quaint village provides an authentic glimpse into traditional Japanese rural life. In terms of accommodation, Shiga Kogen offers a range of options to suit different preferences and budgets. From cozy family-run lodges and charming ryokans to modern hotels and self-catering apartments, visitors are spoiled for choice. The accommodations are strategically located within easy reach of the ski slopes or hiking trails, ensuring convenience and comfort during one's stay. Additionally, Shiga Kogen's accessibility enhances its appeal as a premier destination in Japan. It is well-connected to major cities like Tokyo and Nagano by train and bus services, making it easily accessible for both domestic and international travelers. Whether one is seeking a quick weekend getaway or an extended vacation, Shiga Kogen presents an enticing option for adventure and relaxation.