It’s time for winter moment!.
Earlier in Osaka, we took Haruka train from Kyoto station to Kansai Airport early morning to catch domestic flight to New Chitose airport (gateway to hokkaido). The train fare was ¥3250 per adult one-way.
Note: This trip was in January 2014. The conversion rate, ¥1000 = RM32
We booked a flight tickets in advanced about a month before the trip. We booked a multy-city tickets, Osaka – Hokkaido – Tokyo. Affordable airfare for 2 person, one-way, 2 x 20kg baggage and meals are ¥28,560 only. Meaning average for 1 person was ¥14,280 (about RM457). Departed at 9:40am and arrived at 11:30am.
Once arrive New Chitose Airport, without wasting time, we quickly went to train station and buy one-way train ticket ¥4390 per adult to Furano. Travel time was about 3 hours with interchange at Asahikawa Station. Furano located in the center of Hokkaido. During winter, Furano turns into a popular downhill and cross country skiing resort. Alternatively, you can take a bus direct to Furano with half of the train fare.
Yeah, it’s quite exhausting 1 day traveling from Osaka to Hokkaido. We didn’t manage to catch the free shuttle bus from Furano Station to our guesthouse. It was late and we missed the last bus, so we took taxi instead. Taxi fare for very short distance was ¥1,230 which i consider not cheap nor expensive.
We stayed in Pension Ressha House, the only accommodation available during my booking. Winter season is consider a peak season here because people come for skiing activities. This guesthouse is 300 meters away from the Furano Ski Area, so you can just walk there. The cost for 3 nights for twin room with shared toilet was ¥19,500. Although the toilet we need to share with others, we still have bathroom in the room. It’s consider cheap but during our stay, the heater not working properly but still manageable. Maybe its too cold during our visit in January.
Second day in Furano, we checkout for skiing gear at nearby shop. Once everything confirmed for gear rental, we take Lavender Bus from nearest bus stop heading to Biei. Bus fare ¥620 one-way per person.
Biei is a small town located in the central part of Hokkaido. Its main industry is agriculture, and wide fields, producing for example wheat and potatoes, spread all over the town. This countryside famous with Lavender farm during spring season. Since my visit was during winter, the farm was covered with thick snow.
Lavender Bus’s last stop is Biei train station. From here, you need to ride Biei sightseeing bus to Shirogane onsen village. Bus fare ¥620 one-way per person.
Here, another famous spot is Blue pond. Since, snowing heavily we didn’t go there to check out. We sightseeing around Shirahige waterfall and experienced hot spring bath in Yumoto Shirogane Onsen Hotel. Onsen in Japan is a must-do list!. The cost in this hotel was ¥1,100 each person. Small towel for bathing use is provided. I’m sorry I don’t have any photo of the hot spring area, that time my phone was out of battery. So, disappointed!.
Done hot spring bath, the snowing still heavy and the visibility was quite poor. While waiting for the bus to go back Biei Station, we had coffee at nearby local cafe. The cafe was run by a local old couple, they were so friendly and sweet. Although they can’t really talk in english, but we try hard to communicate until we understand each other and it was fun!.
We take last bus to biei station and catch a same bus back to Furano Town. While in the bus, we manage to chat with a local lady and asked for recommendation place to eat in Furano town. She recommend Topical Sushi restaurant, the only sushi train in Furano, and is a very popular eating spot for the locals.
Once we got off from the bus, we walking towards the restaurant. We were surprised when we got there, many people still waiting in the queue and quite crowded inside. We waited for the table about 25 min. Nice decoration and the use of color may feel like home when you step into a restaurant. The wide variety of sushi available on the menu, ‘Topical’ will not disappoint you. Be warned, Saturday and Sunday nights are very popular with the family crowds, so go before or after the busy dinner hours.
After dinner, we walk to supermarket for some grocery and snacks then we wait for the bus to going back to our guesthouse. We waited quite long enough in heavy snow, then we decided to sharing taxi ride with some locals who are also waiting for the bus. Yeah, another fun time got a chance to chatting with them.
Furano Ski Resort
3rd day in Furano, we spent whole day for skiing activities in Furano Kitanomine Zone. We already rented the equipment from the ski shop earlier yesterday. So, we only signed up for ski lesson with the Ski school located at Kitanomine Zone. Ski lesson rate was ¥4800 per person for 2 hours lesson.
We rented a ski equipment from local shop which is cheaper than Ski school. Ski equipment rental for 1 day use, ¥3000 (ski set not include outerwear and pants) per person. We didn’t buy ski lift pass because we are not ready yet to ski from the higher slope. We kept practicing on the learning slope until we exhausted. Skiing for first timer was really exhausting and pain. I would love to come back again and the slope from top.
Don’t worry about your meal if you have to spend your whole day here. In this ski centre there’s some variety of food like western and Japanese food you can buy. Our favorite is Takoyaki Balls.
In the evening we went to New Furano Prince Hotel by bus. Take bus in front of Hotel Naturwald Furano with bus fare ¥170 per person only. This is the place where you can visit Ningle Terrace and Furano Kan Kan Mura-Snow Night Fantasy. Entrance fee for Furano Kan Kan Mura is ¥300 per person.
Please remember, the last bus to go back Furano station is at 8pm. Don’t forget to catch the bus, unless you’re staying in New Furano Prince hotel. Unfortunately, we missed the last bus so we have to grab a taxi which costs us more.
Last day in Furano, we take a gondola ride up to the top of the Kitanomine Ski resort. Ticket price is ¥1800 for return ticket 1 adult. Great experiance as you can see people skiing from above. The view of Furano town from the top was so awesome.
After lunch, we catch a bus to Sapporo city. One-way ticket per person ¥2200. Bus journey is about 3 hours to reach Sapporo Station.
We stayed at Century Royal Hotel for 1 night. This hotel located near the Sapporo Station. Once we arrived Sapporo Station, we just walked from underground tunnel straight to the hotel. The best stay in Sapporo when we were late for check in, they upgraded us to suite room. Its a 4 star hotel we got a best deal from booking.com, price for 1 night was ¥7200.
Since we arrived at night, we just do food hunting. We went 2 very famous restaurants. Highly recommended for Japanese food lover, they are Sushizanmai and Unagi Grill Bar.
Early morning we checkout from the hotel and leave the luggage at the concierge. Today we catch a train to Otaru. Two-way tickets per person ¥1240. Otaru is a small harbor city, about 30 minutes northwest of Sapporo by train. Its beautifully preserved canal area and interesting herring mansions make Otaru a pleasant day trip from Sapporo.
While you are in Otaru, seafood is a must-try food. They’re fresh and tasty. We tried few type of fresh seafood and costs us ¥1,200. It’s consider a snack to us, then we had lunch at chinese restaurant nearby. ordered 2 types of dishes costs us ¥1,650.
From Otaru, we went back to the hotel and fetch our luggage and catch train to New Chitose Airport. Train fare is ¥1040 one-way per person. Our journey continue to Tokyo fly via Jetstar Japan.