Many Japanese city dwellers escape the urban areas in summer by flocking to beach resorts. Those looking for more adventure head north — and up, to mountain towns like Furano.
On Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, Furano is a recreational paradise in both winter and summer. In winter, abundant snow makes this a major ski destination. Summer is much more colorful: Furano is perhaps best known for its agriculture, especially flowers. Tourists wander among rows and rows of purple, yellow, green, red and white blooms laid out like colorful rugs across the rolling landscape. Lavender is a perennial (so to speak) favorite.
The mild, sunny climate is also ideal for other fruits and vegetables, which has led to another of Furano’s draws: delicious, freshly made food, with an emphasis on dessert.
To work off those calories, take a hike on one of the forested slopes that surround the town. Mt. Furano is part of the Tokachi Volcanic Group, a collection of volcanoes that reach nearly 7,000 feet at their tallest, and some have trails leading all the way to their summits. (They're technically active volcanoes — this is the “Ring of Fire,” after all — but presumably, you’ll have warning if one is about to blow its top.)
Water sports, including whitewater rafting and kayaking, are also popular. Visitors often stay in cozy alpine lodges or family cabins made of rough-hewn logs. Some lodges offer day-trip packages to nearby hot springs.
All this beauty makes Furano a frequent filming location, and the local visitor center has set up tours to some of the spots Japanese visitors will recognize from movies and TV.