This was my second time driving from Sapporo to Furano. On both occasions, the default route given by the GPS instructed us to take the expressway all the way to Takikawa before turning back to Furano. This time, I decided to ignore the GPS instruction and exit and Mikasa and use route 452 to get to Furano. I found going by this way took about the same time but saved us quite a bit on toll fees.
We arrived at Furano in the afternoon and headed straight for lunch at Furano Wine House.
Furano Wine House was located at the top of a hill and the view from there was splendid even on this rainy day! We got a table next to the window where we could enjoy the beautiful scenery while dining.
The most famous dish at Furano wine house was the cheese fondue. We ordered their lunch set which came with a main course (steak) and a mini cheese fondue.
We also ordered also their four cheese pizza. The cheese fondue and cheese pizza were both made with locally produced Furano cheese!
We also ordered a locally produced Furano grape juice – the kids loved it!
Frankly, I found the food here was nothing to rave about. I enjoyed the grape juice, but I believe you can buy the bottle of juice at souvenir stores for a cheaper price than what the restaurant was selling it for. And I thought the cheese fondue was over-hyped. We unanimously agreed that the best part of the meal was the kids meal! It was cheap and the prawn was gigantic! Excellent value for money!
Furano Wine Factory
After lunch, we drove down the hill to the wine factory.
There was a lavender hill in front of the wine factory, but June was too early for lavender season. These lavender were still in their infancy.
We went for a walk around the cellar.
Then we went upstairs for free wine tasting. You can just grab a small plastic cup and help yourself to the barrels of wine available. Unlimited wine for free!
The kids also helped themselves to a cup each and they got their first taste of wine. :p
Before anyone got drunk, we left and headed to our next destination: Tomita Melon House.
When we first arrived, the boys were more interested in the tractors than the melons.
It started raining, so I shooed the boys off the tractors and into the melon house to seek shelter. We were welcomed by the enticing display of melons!
While waiting for the rain to stop, we went around to buy all sorts of melon snacks. The kids loved the melon snacks and ate so much!
When the rain became lighter, we quickly dashed back to our car and headed for Farm Tomita which was just beside the melon house.
June was too early for lavender season and most of the flowers were not in full bloom yet. But it was a nice visit nevertheless.
We walked all the way to the end of the farm where there was a terrace cafe from which we could get a beautiful panaromic view of the flower field. By June it was already so beautiful, how nice it would be if I could visit in July / August when everything is in full bloom!
There were some lavender hills at the back, but as mentioned, June was too early for lavender viewing.
I just had to take a photo with the baby lavenders. These were the most mature lavender I could find in the farm when we were there.. Better than nothing. :p
And there were some lavender wannabe (a purplish plant that looks a bit like lavender).
The kids were more interested in posing with the lavender ice-cream than the flowers.
It started raining again after a while, so we quickly headed back to our car and didn’t have time to visit all the shops around the farm. In my earlier visit in October 2013, we did some shopping at the beautiful dried flower shop and dined at the cafe at Tomita Farm. Click here to read about my earlier visit to Tomita Farm!
Furano Cheese Factory
Since it was raining, we decided to go to an indoor destination next – Furano Cheese Factory.
There were some free cheese for sampling:
MF was super excited to sink his teeth into the black squid ink cheese (because black was his favourite colour).
But the moment it went into his mouth, he spit it out. I tried a piece myself and frankly found it absolutely disgusting! We quickly bought ourselves some milk to wash away the awful taste of squid ink cheese.
In the factory, there was a fake cow which you can milk – it was coin operated.
Next, we headed to Furano Delice for tea break (never mind the fact that we have been eating non-stop since we arrived in Furano.. but what else could we do on a rainy day?). Their double fromage cheesecake was pretty so-so IMO, I very much prefer Le Tao’s. But it was a nice cosy place to chill out.
We then headed to Furano Marche to do some shopping. Furano Marche turned out to be much smaller than expected, and it was hard to get between the buildings when it was raining heavily. (They provided umbrellas, but still it was a hassle with the kids around.)
We grabbed some Furano snacks from the souvenir shop. The potato chips was quite nice, so make sure you buy a pack if you are there!
Since it was raining heavily, we decided to just go back to our hotel and bum until dinner time. For dinner, we went to restaurant called Haruchan sushi which was recommended by the Furano Cheese Factory for their cheese steamboat which uses cheese from Furano Cheese Factory. We ordered the cheese pot and a pork shabu shabu.
It was pretty puzzling for a sushi restaurant to be selling cheese pot and shabu shabu. The food was forgettable.. So I guess a jack of all trades is a master of none.
There was a festival going on right outside the restaurant. It was raining, so we just took a quick look around before going back to our hotel.
We started the day with a visit to Flower Land Kamifurano.
June was still too early for flower season, but there were a few fields that were blooming.
Although many of the flower fields were still bare, the view from Flower Land Kamifurano of the surrounding area was breath-taking!
Even 18 month old MY could appreciate the scenery!
Since it was not peak flowering season, the good thing was that we had the whole place to ourselves! The kids had fun just running around.
The little one particularly liked the little flowers!
There was a tractor ride going around the farm for a fee and MF (who has a thing for tractors) kept asking to ride on it. Flower Land Kamifurano is not very big and it was pretty lame going around on the tractor AFTER we have already explored the whole place on foot. But the kids loved the tractor ride anyway.
So we had a repeat telecast of all the flowers we had seen earlier.
Shikisai No Oka
Next, we drove on to Biei. Driving to Biei from Furano, we arrived at the area called Panorama Road first. Our first stop was Shikisai No Oka.
Most of the flowers were still at infancy stage, but we could see that the flower fields went on and on and on…. Shikisai No Oka is much bigger than Flower Land Kamifurano, which makes taking the tractor ride here a much better idea.
In June, there was only a patch of red and yellow flowers that were in full bloom.
There was a lone tree in the middle of the flower fields which makes for good photo opportunities.
I would love to come here in July / August when the flower fields are in full bloom. If it is already this beautiful in June, how wonderful it must be in a month’s time!
Our next stop in the Panorama Road area was Shinnei No Oka.
The scenery of the rolling hills around Shinnei No Oka was so beautiful!
Our next stop was Sanai No Oka which also offered a beautiful view of the rolling hills of Biei.
In case you are wondering where the kids were, they were happily sleeping in the car all the way since we left Shikisai No Oka. We just took turns to hop out to take photos while leaving them in the car.
Our lunch destination was Farm Restaurant Chiyoda which was also in the Panorama Road area. Our initial plan was to have lunch before going to the Patchwork Road area, but because the weather was so good and the weather forecast said that it would rain in the afternoon, we decided to go to Patchwork Road area first.
Our first stop in the Patchwork Road area was Hokusei No Oka.
We climbed up the pyramid-shaped observation deck for a view of the surrounding area.
Next, we went to Hill of Zerebu.
I would recommend skipping Hill of Zerebu if you are visiting in June because the flowers have not bloomed yet. But if you’re visiting in July – October, it should be worth a visit.
Next, we drove around the Patchwork Road area in search for celebrity trees.
The whole drive around Patchwork Road was extremely scenic. My photos do not do the place any justice, you need to visit it for yourself (or google for some professionally taken photos :p).
Farm Restaurant Chiyoda
After a while, everyone was bored of celebrity trees and decided to go for lunch. So we drove back to the Panorama Road where Farm Restaurant Chiyoda was.
The restaurant was extremely popular and we had to wait some time for a table. Their most popular dish was the beef stew and I can understand why. It was SUPER yummy!
We also ordered their steak which was not bad – not the best steak I’ve had in Japan but not too bad.
The kids meal was disappointing though – there was hardly any meat in the curry. The jersey ice-cream that came with it was pretty crappy too. Should have just ordered one more beef stew for the kids!
One bad thing about Farm Restaurant Chiyoda was that they only have beef on their menu. So if you have anyone in your company who does not take beef, he or she would be stuck eating plain potato.
More of Panorama Road
After lunch, we drove to the nearby Tree of Philosphy to take some been-here-done-that photos. It was drizzling by then, so we just snapped some photos from the car.
Next, we decided to go for after-lunch coffee at Sanai No Chaya Curve, which is a small cottage just beside Sanai no Oka.
The cottage is famous for its affogato. We tried one coffee and one green tea affogato and both were delicious! We also ordered a toast with jam which was quite nice. Can’t believe we were having toast immediately after lunch. But what else could we do on a rainy day??
If the weather is good, you can sip your drink on the terrace while enjoying the beautiful view around Sanai No Oka.
There is also a little pavilion nearby with a great view.
Word of caution: The interior of the cottage is not very child-friendly at all. It only has one counter with high stools and the place is full of breakable pottery! Hence, we did not stay long (because staying any longer would increase the chances of one of the kids breaking something).
After the coffee break, we left Biei and drove back to Furano and visited Ningle Terrace.
After spending some time browsing through the shops at Ningle Terrace, we decided to go for dinner. We visited Kumagera, which is a pretty famous restaurant in Furano and appeared on many TV shows before.
We had a table with a stove in the middle for their famous hot pot.
Although they are more famous for their hotpot with various types of meat such as chicken and venison, we ordered their seafood hotpot instead. Doesn’t it look delicious?
The fire was started and the hot pot was cooked right in front of us. When it was done, TADA!
And for those who like your beef rare like me, you have to try their beef sashimi rice!
I would highly recommend dining at Kumagera if you are visiting Furano. They were very tourist and foreigner friendly and the food was so good! (No wonder they keep getting featured on variety shows all around the world.)
After dinner, we left Furano and drove to our next destination: Tomamu.
We woke up bright and early to go up to Unkai Terrace. Unkai means ‘sea of clouds’ in Japanese and this postcard of Unkai Terrace shows you what you can see on a perfectly good day.
The gondola only operated from 4.30 to 7am in June, so we had to wake up really early and dressed everyone up warmly and headed out. But we actually weren’t that early, by the time we dressed the kids and took the resort shuttle from the hotel tower to the gondola station, it was about 6am.
When we arrived at the gondola station, there was a poster showing the current unkai condition, so you can still change your mind before buying the expensive gondola tickets if there is no unkai the day you are there. Lucky us, it said there was beautiful unkai that day!
So up the gondola we went! The kids LOVE gondola rides.
And through the clouds we went..
And we were above the sea of clouds!
We arrived at the terrace and went around taking photos non-stop! It was pretty cold at the terrace, so if you did not pack warm clothing (since it’s summer), don’t worry, there were many winter jackets available for guests to help themselves to for free. However, there were no kids jackets, only adult ones.
There are two levels to the terrace but they were all packed with people on this beautiful morning! The kids managed to squeeze their way to the front.
It didn’t help that there was a TV crew doing filming and taking up so much space on the terrace.
There was a mailbox at the terrace. We received a postcard that could be sent to anywhere in Japan for free, but they did not sell stamps there so that we could mail it back to Singapore. So if you want to mail your postcard overseas, bring your own stamps!
We walked around the terrace to take more photos.
There was a short walking trail beside the terrace which offered beautiful views of the unkai with the surrounding mountains and allowed us to get away from the crowd.
By the time we came back from the walking trail, many people have descended the mountain and the terrace was significantly less crowded.
We found a table and had a hot drink while enjoying the scenery.
We took the gondola back down and went for buffet breakfast that was included in our stay.
After eating, we went back to the room where MY went back to sleep. I brought MF to the resort centre to see what activities were available for a 3 year old.
They had balance bikes that were free to use. MF went for a short ride on it.
Next, we decided to try ice-cream making (chargeable). We paid for the activity at the resort centre shop and received a ‘ticket’.
We brought the ticket up to the second storey where all the activities were held. They also had bread making and cookie making, but I thought those seemed too difficult for a 3 year old. An English-speaking staff came to teach us how to make ice-cream and MF was able to complete all the tasks (except the shaking of the tin which all of us had to take turns to do because it was super tiring!).
MF was super excited to see the end product.
Tada.. We made ice-cream!
And MF got to enjoy the fruit of his labour.
By then it was almost time to check-out, so we went back to the hotel and bid farewell to Tomamu. We had a very enjoyable stay at Hoshino Resorts Tomamu!
From Tomamu, we drove to Obihiro where we had lunch at my favourite buta don (pork rice bowl) shop, Panchou, which was located near Obihiro station.
New Chitose Airport
We checked in to Air Terminal Hotel where we would be staying for the final night. After resting for a while, we went to walk around New Chitose Airport. New Chitose Airport is an awesome place to visit and I can easily spend a whole day there.
We first visited Royce Chocolate World.
You can see how the famous Royce chocolate is made, right here at New Chitose Airport!
Next, we passed by Steffi’s Nature World, which is a place where you could take photo with life-size animal stuffed toys (I think), but did not go in. There was a small play area outside Steffi’s Nature World that was free and suitable for small babies.
For older kids, move on to Doraemon Waku Waku Sky Park!
MF had been asking to visit the Doraemon Waku Waku Sky Park since our last visit. He was so happy to see Doraemon this time that he did a Doraemon impersonation.
At Doraemon Waku Waku Sky Park, there was an awesome FREE play area for kids!
The play area was super fun, considering it was free. The kids had lots of fun!
There was an interesting target board where the kids used their socks as ammo. Very creative! (Though not the most hygienic.. Lol!)
If your kids are more of the sit-down-and-do-craft type of kid rather than the run-and-jump-around kind, just opposite the play area is a craft area. You need to pay to do the craft though.
There is also a ‘library’ full of Doraemon comic books – and they have them in different languages!!
If your kids like Doraemon, they would definitely LOVE dining at the Doraemon theme cafe!
There was a trick mirror along the corridor and the kids had a good laugh at it!
The kids had so much fun there and they were only willing to leave when the place was closed.
We went around exploring the rest of the airport and had dinner before going back to the hotel to rest before our flight home the next day.
Read More: Activities in New Chitose Airport for Kids
Summary: Itinerary Outline for Hokkaido Self-Drive with Kids (June 2014)
Part 1: New Chitose Airport, Lake Shikotsu, Lake Toya, Hakodate
Part 2: Onuma Koen, Niseko, Shakotan
Part 3: Otaru
Part 4: Sapporo
Part 5: Furano, Biei, Tomamu, Obihiro, New Chitose Airport (You’re here now)