ABOUT THE APARTMENT BUILDING
How new are the apartments?
Fresh Powder was a complete renovation and interior rebuild of an existing ski lodge, completed in December 2008. In September 2018 our office, drying room, ski locker and the interior of the building underwent another update and renovation. This makes our modern, clean apartments some of the newest accommodations available in Furano
Where is Fresh Powder located?
The apartment building is perfectly located in the Kitanomine Resort area of Furano, about 50 meters from the Kitanomine Gondola terminal. As of December 2019 we are the only luxury ski out self contained apartments in Furano.
Are the apartments fully private?
Yes, all apartments are fully self-contained, and include a private kitchen, bathroom, and living room. The apartments are complete with modern furnishings and appliances including a laundry machine, internet access, satellite TV, and a private phone line. For full details, please see our room descriptions and virtual tours.
Are cleaning services available?
The apartments are fully cleaned before and after each stay and provided with new linens and towels. If you require a cleaning service during your stay, please contact us in advance to arrange. (Extra charges apply.) Please speak to reception to change towels as needed, maximum once every two days. For stays of 10 nights or longer an interim cleaning and linen change is provided. For your convenience, all apartments also contain an automatic dishwasher with detergent provided free of charge.
What are the closest services?
Convenience Store / Basic Grocery: Kitanomine 7 – 11 (about 8 minutes walk)
Full Grocery: Forest Grocery (about 5 minutes drive / 20 minutes walk)
Breakfast service: Buffet breakfast at the Naturwald Hotel (less than 1 minute walk, 7:00 to 9:00 am)
Post Office: Kitanomine Postal Station (about 10 minutes walk). Stamps and a post box are also available at 7 – 11.
ATM with International Service: Kitanomine 7 – 11 (about 8 minutes walk)
Bus Stop: Hotel Naturwald Bus Stop (about 50 meters) – Furano Town Bus, Lavender Bus, Ski Night Shuttle Bus, and Airport Ski Buses
Tourist Information Center: Furano Tourism Association Info Desk inside Kitanomine Gondola Terminal 1st floor (only available during ski season)
Souvenir Shop: Hotel Naturwald Lobby (50 meters)
Park / Playground: Asahigaoka Park (about 10 minutes walk) – includes walking / jogging trails, kids playground, and “park golf” course
What amenities are in the rooms?
The following amenities are provided free of charge: Kitchen – tea, coffee, sugar, salt & pepper, paper towels, napkins, dish soap, dish gloves, sponges, cleaning cloths, dishwasher detergent, extra rubbish bags. Laundry – detergent with softener is provided, drying rack. Bath – body soap, shampoo, conditioner, hair dryer, towels, extra toilet paper. Bedroom – iron, ironing board, full linens & extra blanket Note: Disposable personal care items such as toothbrush, razors, combs, etc are not provided in the apartments. We ask that you bring your own or purchase from the nearby convenience store.
Where is the management office, and when is it open?
Our friendly bilingual guest services staff can be found in the ground floor of the apartment building. The management office is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. For late arrivals, please let us know in advance. An on-call manager provides emergency 24-hour assistance. Our staff are happy to provide any assistance we can with your travels. Please feel free to inquire if there is anything we can do to make your stay more comfortable. The management office also loans DVD movies, video games, books, and card games free of charge for use in your suite, and has a collection of tourist information.
Do you have a ski room / drying room?
Yes, we have a secure walk-in ski room located next door to the management office. The ski room includes two parts: a ski locker / rack room for storing skis and snowboards, and a drying room for hanging up ski wear. The drying room is humidity controlled to help ensure that your gear is dry and toasty warm in the morning. We have also included a waxing bench with an iron available for waxing skis. The drying room is connected to an internal stairwell which provides direct access to all guest suites. The ski room is secured from the outside by an electronic lock.
Do you have parking?
Parking is available just across the street. Stopping is allowed in front of the building for guests to load and unload. All parking is free of charge for staying guests.
Do you have internet access?
Yes, the apartments all feature wireless internet access. Internet access is free of charge.
Do you have a lift / elevator?
No, we do not have an elevator/lift. The upper floor and lower floor are accessed by one flight of stairs from the main entrance. For those who have trouble climbing stairs or with small children, we would recommend the 2 BR Ski View and Studio Apartments on the main floor, just a few steps up from street level.
How effective is the heating system?
Our modern electric panel heating is powerful enough to be comfortable during the coldest winter nights, and allows individual control of each room’s temperature. This is supplemented by hot air heating available in the living room of each suite. All of the heating systems are electric and completely silent, dustless and smokeless. The rooms are designed with environmentally-friendly windows and are well insulated to provide a comfortable stay while reducing our impact on the environment.
Do you have air conditioners?
Although Furano is known for cool summers, we have installed air conditioning units into the living room of each suite. The air conditioners are thermostat controlled and automatically maintain your desired temperature. The air conditioning units are very modern and completely silent.
What electric system do you use?
Our apartments use the standard Japanese electric system, which is 100 Volt, 50 Hz, non-polarized twin pin. Plug converters are available to borrow from our office, but please note that they do not change the voltage or frequency of the electric current. They generally work well for most rechargeable devices, but they may work more slowly due to differences from your home country’s power system. We provide hair dryers in each bathroom, and recommend that you do not bring your home hair dryer as it may be dangerous to use overseas.
We’d like to cook some of our own meals at the apartments. What grocery shopping options are available?
Furano has excellent grocery stores, featuring seasonal local produce from Furano and throughout Hokkaido. The nearest full grocery is the Forest store, about 20-minute walk or 5-minute drive from the apartments. The largest store in Furano is the Co-Op (Seikyo) supermarket located downtown, which is about a 10-minute drive. Both stores include a greengrocer, dairy, fresh meats, seafood, dry goods, frozen, liquor, as well as deli counters with pre-made dishes including salads, cooked meats, sushi, and deep fried foods. Co-op also has a fresh bakery and cake shop, with a 100-yen shop (dollar store) located on the second floor. NOTE: Most grocery stores in Furano do not accept credit cards. The 7 – 11 convenience store in Kitanomine (about 8 minutes walk) also features a basic grocery.
Do you have baby cots?
Yes, western baby cots (crib) and Japanese-style baby futon (floor mattress) are available upon request. Bedding for infants is free of charge.
Are ski lessons available for children?
Yes, private ski lessons are available from age 4 and group lessons from age 6.
Do you recycle?
Yes! Furano City requires all citizens and businesses to use its advanced recycling system. We have greatly simplified the system, allowing guests to easily help protect our environment. Each room has a recycling cabinet in the kitchen which will allow you to easily sort out recyclable materials into four types. Recyclables may be dropped off at the recycling room next to our ski locker.
GENERAL QUESTIONS ABOUT FURANO
Can I use credit cards at the resort?
Not always. Japan is traditionally a cash society, and many small businesses (including restaurants and accommodations) cannot accept credit cards. Certain brands of foreign credit cards will not work with Japanese card terminals. On top of this, security features in your card may prevent it from working in Japan. We recommend having enough cash to cover incidental expenses. The ATM in the Kitanomine 7-11 Convenience Store (about 8 minutes walk from Fresh Powder) can make withdrawals from most “Cirrus” and “Plus” system debit cards. It also offers cash advance from most Visa credit cards.
What level of English should I expect?
Although Furano is a major resort, it is based in a very small agricultural city and thus you should not expect that every business has English speaking staff. English is taught in almost all schools in Japan, and Simple English (especially written instructions) will be understood by the majority of businesses. Furano has made many advances in the past few years, with a wide variety of tourist information, restaurant menus, and street signs now carrying English information. Our guest service staff are fully bilingual locals, and are able to assist should any communication difficulties arrive.
Are there many restaurants?
Yes, Furano has over 100 restaurants, pubs, and cafes. Due to the quality of the agricultural produce in this area, Furano is well known as a gourmet city with a number of excellent choices for almost any food preference and budget. The central location of Furano also means that you can enjoy fresh seasonal ingredients from all around Hokkaido. Fresh Powder is located in the Kitanomine area, which is a year-round resort area with dozens of restaurants. Most tend to be small and offer a unique character. Some favourite restaurants of Fresh Powder guests include Tirol (Lamb BBQ), Tamaya (Soba Noodle House), Tomi-Zushi (Sushi & Japanese Cuisine), Bakushu (Stone-baked Pizza), and Le Chemin (French Bistro), all of which are within easy walking distance. Downtown Furano (about 10 minutes / 1000 yen taxi) offers even more variety. In past years, the resort has offered an excellent hourly shuttle bus service, which is expected to continue for 2008-2009. For more info, please see our dining page.
How about pubs and bars?
A few popular pubs are found within a 5 minute walk, including the Naturwald Hotel Pub “Yuufure”, Tirol Café, Furano Beer Hall, and Ajito Sports Bar. The majority of pubs and bars are found downtown, a short taxi ride (about 10 minutes / 1000 yen). This means that the ski resort area is quiet in the evenings. Some favorites in the downtown area are Bar Bocco and The Bridge Bar, both of which feature an American style. For those looking for something more traditional, Robata offers a true Hokkaido sake bar experience, with a giant pot of hot sake warmed over a charcoal hearth in the middle of the room. There are also modern Japanese bars such as the chain Tsubohachi, as well as ones with local flavour such as Nanmara, Sakana-ya, and Bar Wonder. Furano’s nightclub street has dozens of “snack bars” (hostess clubs) and small karaoke bars.
What other night life options are there?
During the ski season, the Furano Hiroba (Furano Stage, near the JR train station) features a local cultural performance every Saturday evening. Furano’s downtown area has bowling alleys, billiards, karaoke bars, and a few dance clubs. Some bars also feature more than just drinks, such as Ajito (big screen TV and sports events), Kingyo (Karaoke stage) and The Bridge (free billiards). Live performances and DJ events are fairly common, please check our notice board for the most recent information!
Are there onsens (hot spring mineral baths) nearby?
Yes, the region offers a number of options to experience this uniquely Japanese experience. A number of the hotels in our immediate area feature onsen-style spas. The closest are the Naturwald Hotel (50 meters walk) and the Bell Hills Hotel (100 meters walk.) Bathing passes and towel hire are available from their front desk. Please note that the hotels are sometimes closed to the public when hosting school trips. For an extremely authentic Hokkaido hot spring experience, we recommend a day trip to the Fukiage Hot Spring district of the Tokachi mountain range. About 40 to 60 minutes from the city, these fully natural mountainside hot springs offer tranquility, solitude, and breathtaking views. Our guest services staff are happy to assist in booking transportation to the hot springs or recommending different options.
Is driving in Furano safe / recommended?
Yes and no. In summer, driving is an ideal way to see many of the beautiful sightseeing spots on your own schedule. It’s also an ideal way to take advantage of Furano’s central location, with easy day trips to Asahikawa, Biei, Ashibetsu, Lake Katsurazawa, Taisetsuzan National Park, Minami Furano, Obihiro, and Hidaka areas. The wide, straight roads in the area are well-marked and very easy to drive compared to most of Japan. On the other hand, winter driving conditions can be extreme, and navigation can be very difficult due to the amount of snow on the roads. Unless you are an experienced winter driver with knowledge of the area, we highly discourage driving in the winter. Due to the difficulty in winter driving, the winter season has a larger number of day tour buses as well as direct airport buses available. AN INTERNATIONAL DRIVING PERMIT (Geneva Convention), AS WELL AS YOUR HOME COUNTRY LICENSE, IS REQUIRED FOR ALL CAR RENTALS IN JAPAN. It will not be possible to rent a car if you do not arrange the license from your home country before your trip.we strongly recommend that you have full travel insurance and bring sufficient cash on your trip. In the case of a medical emergency, one must typically pay the full uninsured amount and claim back the cost on their travel insurance. In case medical care is required, our guest services staff is able to recommend a suitable clinic or hospital and provide Japanese interpretation if required. We do not charge any fee for assistance with medical care. If you have any serious allergies or dietary needs, please inquire with our guest services staff. We would be happy to provide a written note in Japanese to help explain your needs to local restaurants. We can also recommend some alternative local foods.
Is out-of-bounds skiing (tree skiing) allowed at the Furano resort?
Yes, but limited. The resort only allows access to and from the resort boundaries at certain designated points. For the full rules, please visit the ticket office or ski patrol office. For your safety we strongly recommend to file a backcountry route plan with the ski patrol before embarking. Please check with your insurance policy to make certain that skiing outside of a maintained ski course is permitted. We ask all guests to comply with the posted rules at the ski resort.
There are also several backcountry guide operators based in Furano who offer trips on the Furano mountain as well as through the area, such as Asahidake.
How does the resort compare to the Niseko resort?
Snow quality in Furano is considered to be some of the best in Japan (or even the world, depending on who you ask.) Furano’s location in the very center of Hokkaido leads to a more consistent continental climate, with snow often lighter and drier than Niseko. There are also fewer storms, less closures due to wind, and more blue-sky days. Being further from the ocean and with slightly lower precipitation, Furano doesn’t get the sheer volume of snow of Niseko – on average, Furano “only” gets 8-9 meters of snowfall per year. On the slopes, the most noticeable difference is the lack of crowds. Furano’s advanced lift system is well designed for the amount of people the resort draws. The lifts are longer and faster than Niseko, meaning less time spent in lines and more time on the slopes. In terms of vertical and slope grade, Furano is very similar to Niseko. The community of Furano is also much less westernized than Niseko, offering a more cultural experience. On the other hand, this means less English-speaking staff throughout the resort. Fresh Powder Apartments Furano is the first accommodation in the resort designed specifically for international visitors, with fully bilingual guest service staff.
Are English speaking ski instructors available at the Furano resort?
Yes, but numbers are limited. For your convenience we are pleased to offer pre-booking services for English-speaking instructors. We can also inquire for availability of English-speaking instructors from our front desk after your arrival, but pre-booking is recommended due to high demand.
Can we rent ski wear?
Yes, rental ski wear is available, however please keep in mind that it can be quite costly for long duration rentals. To ensure an optimal fit, we recommend purchasing ski wear in advance. At the least, we recommend you bring high quality winter gloves or mittens that fit you well, and a set of goggles. Please be aware that the local shops do not carry extra-large size ski wear.
Is ski hire available?
Yes, in addition to the ski hire available on the ski hill, there are several rental outlets in the village itself. Please inquire for accommodation packages including ski and snowboard rental.
Can we purchase ski gear in Furano?
Ski equipment purchase is highly limited to a few small shops. If you plan to buy ski gear in Japan, we’d recommend to shop at Tokyo, Sapporo, or Asahikawa before coming to Furano. There is a good selection of accessories available in the gondola terminal ski rental shop, but please note that the rental shops do not retail skis, boots, bindings, or snowboards.
Is there night skiing at Furano?
Yes, both zones of the resort offer night skiing until 8:30 pm on a limited selection of runs. (Night skiing is typically available from mid December to mid March only. For official schedules please inquire with the Furano Ski Resort.) Night skiing is fully lit and patrolled. Multi-day lift passes purchased through our guest services include night skiing access for both sides. The quad lift immediately in front of Fresh Powder Apartments is open for night skiing, making it a very attractive location for night skiing. Beautiful views of the illuminated slopes are available from some suites.
Are sledding and other activities allowed on the ski resort?
Yes, the Kitanomine ski area has a small sled park near the gondola station, just a one minute walk from our apartments. The Furano Zone contains a snow park called Family Snow Land, which offers other activities such as banana boat rides, cross country skiing, and even snowmobiling.
Are other winter activities available outside of the resort?
Absolutely. The area is filled with abundant nature which makes the perfect setting for a number of outdoor activities, such as trekking, dog sledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing, hot air balloon rides, and many more. Please see our winter activities page for details.
How about back country skiing and day trips from the Furano resort?
One of Furano’s greatest charms is its central location, giving rise to its nickname “the Bellybutton of Hokkaido”. There are great day trips and backcountry skiing to be found in almost every direction, including Tomamu Resort to south, Tokachidake Mountains and Mt Asahidake to the east, and Kamui Ski Links to the north. For day trips out of Furano, we highly recommend the services of Hokkaido Powder Guides, who combine excellent area knowledge with professional avalanche and safety techniques. In previous years, Furano multi-day passes of 5 days or longer have allowed the option of trading one day in for a day trip to Kamui Ski Links or Tomamu, both of which offer some degree of off-piste and tree skiing. Alpine Visitor Center has been offering day trip bus routes to Kamui and Tomamu since 2007. These are typically restricted to certain days of the week and bookings are required.
What is the Furano Mountain Guide Program?
Furano’s Mountain Guide Program is the first of its kind in Japan. Local volunteers ski along with visitors, providing a mountain orientation and also helping to answer any questions about the town. Most of the mountain guides are very interested in English and internationalization, so this is a great chance to make friends with the locals while picking up some tips about the ski resort and Furano City. This service is completely free of charge. You may make appointments for the guide service at the Furano International Tourism Center located in the ground floor of the Kitanomine Gondola. NOTE: The mountain guides do not provide ski lessons or instructions. Our staff will be happy to help arrange a ski lesson with one of the local ski schools.
How cold is winter in Furano, and what clothes should we bring?
Temperatures during most of the ski season range between -5° and -15° Celsius. On a very cold night, temperatures may drop as low as -25°C. Due to cold temperatures, high quality thermal underwear and winter socks are highly recommended. It’s important to dress in layers to allow you to adjust to changing temperatures. All visitors should be certain to prepare good gloves, a warm hat, and warm boots. Winter boots are highly recommended, not only to keep your feet warm but also to prevent falling on icy surfaces. During December through March, the entire city is blanketed with snow so please keep this in mind. A face mask or baklava is highly recommended for skiing, due to the high wind chill created by speed. This is compounded by powder snow which may blow into your face while skiing. Likewise, goggles are a must.
Is there spring skiing?
Yes, the Furano ski resort is open until early May. Spring skiing conditions generally begin from mid March. Because of the excellent grooming at Furano, it’s considered to be one of the best spring skiing destinations in the area.
How early does the season start?
The ski hill is scheduled to open in late November, subject to conditions. The Furano Zone is the first area to open. The Kitanomine Zone typically opens by the second week of December.
What’s the easiest way to access the Furano resort?
Furano is most conveniently accessed from Asahikawa Airport. Asahikawa is just a 1-hour bus ride from Furano. Asahikawa Airport has connections from Haneda (Tokyo), Kansai (Osaka), and Nagoya airports. For international flights, we recommend Osaka Kansai airport, since there is no need to change airports for your domestic connection, and it tends to be less crowded than Tokyo Haneda airport. Furano can also be accessed from the major Sapporo New Chitose Airport. For connections from Hong Kong or Korea, there are direct flights to Sapporo which may be the most convenient. During the ski season, there are dedicated ski shuttle buses which travel directly from the airport and make stops just two doors down from our apartments. The bus travel time is approximately 3 hours. During the winter, there is also a Ski Express Train from Sapporo New Chitose Airport to Furano. The train is restricted to certain periods only, so we recommend checking with JR Hokkaido. All other trains require changing trains, and taking local (non-reserved seating) trains. This may not be a good idea if you have a large group or much luggage. Driving in winter is not recommended unless you are a very experienced winter driver with good knowledge of the local roads.
SKIING IN FURANO
Is pre-payment required?
Yes. Because our property is a dedicated long-stay rental facility, a deposit is required to secure all bookings. Deposits must be paid within 7 days, or the booking may be automatically cancelled. Final payments for all ski season bookings are due by 60 days before check-in. For booking requests which are placed within 67 days before check-in, the full payment is required within 7 days in order to secure your booking.
Are there refunds in case of cancellations?
No. We are not able to provide refunds for any payments. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you take out a travel insurance plan which includes cancellation before departure.
Are refunds possible in the case of a medical or family emergency?
No. We are not able to provide refunds for any payments. For this reason, we strongly recommend that you take out a travel insurance plan which includes cancellation before departure.
Can we pay by credit card? Is there a credit card levy?
Credit card payments are possible, but incur a levy of 5 to 6 percent. In order to provide the best possible value, we provide cash-discounted rates and request that payments are made by bank transfer. (Bank transfer fees must be paid by the guest.) This is due to the very high credit card fees incurred for Japanese businesses. For convenience, we allow deposit payment with no credit card levy. However, the levy will be incurred if the remaining 80% balance is paid by credit card. For small bookings, it may be better value to pay the 5-6% credit card levy than to pay for a telegraphic transfer. Please inquire in this case. All rates shown on the website are cash discounted.
Are there restrictions for check in days and minimum stays?
Yes, during the ski season, all apartment stay check-in and check-out are restricted to Wednesday and Saturday. The minimum stay is 7 nights, and 10, 11, or 14 night stays are possible depending on if you arrive and depart on Wednesday or Saturday. Our new free-standing 5 BR chalet does not have check-in/check-out day restrictions and is available for shorter stays. On occasion, we may have availability for 3 or 4 night stays, however, this is the exception rather than the norm. All short stay winter availability is shown on our availability chart as “3” or “4” nights. In the summer season, we have a basic minimum stay of 2 nights. Please inquire by e-mail for 1 night availability.
The online booking system shows that a room is “available by e-mail request only”. What does this mean?
In many cases, we will be able to offer the room, but due to restrictions, our staff must confirm the booking manually. In some cases, the room has been requested by another guest, but not yet confirmed. In this case, you will be waitlisted for the room. Please e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire for these periods.
How quickly can I expect a reply?
We endeavour to reply to all reservation inquiries within two working days. Please be aware that our reservation office is closed most weekends and Japanese national holidays, so it may not be possible to reply until the following business day.
Can I reserve or make inquiries by telephone?
Inquiries by telephone are available most business days, from 9:00 am through 5:00 pm Japan time. We ask your kind understanding that telephone inquiries may not be available every day. Please call +81-167-23-4738 for inquiries.
It is outside of Japanese business hours, but I really need to secure a booking right away. What is the best way to do this?
In many cases, available rooms may be secured instantly by online booking. Please note that all instant online bookings must comply with booking conditions, including restrictions for check in and check out dates. For other inquiries, please e-mail email@example.com and they will be answered in the order received.
How early should we book?
Because of the large number of international guests, our peak seasons begin to heavily book out from 11 months in advance. (Most international airfares are available from 11 months in advance.) In order to avoid disappointment, we recommend booking as early as possible.
Can you provide package bookings for airport transfers, ski hire, lift passes and ski lessons?
Yes, in order to add convenience and value to your travels, we are happy to offer a complimentary pre-booking service. All pre-booked services must be paid in advance.
Can you provide packages with airfares?
No, we can only arrange domestic ground services within Hokkaido. Please see our Getting to Furano section for details on airline service. Almost all of the airlines have an automated online booking service.
May I link to the Fresh Powder website?
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for link permission.
Where can we send comments or complaints?
We look forward to receiving any feedback to help serve all guests as well as possible in the future. Please direct any comments by e-mail to email@example.com If you have any comments during your stay, please direct them to our management staff. We have a guest book at the front desk, please feel free to leave a message or comment when you check out.