This past May, my husband and I took a day trip to Furano. It was a two and a half hour drive from our place. It was far enough to get away from the city, but close enough that it was not a miserable drive.
Even though it wasn’t lavender season yet, we felt like going for a longer drive to explore places we haven’t been to before. Most people come to Furano in the summer to see the flower fields and also in the winter for some skiing. Early spring doesn’t really offer much to see–not even cherry blossoms.
I enjoyed the short trip, nevertheless. I especially loved the scenery even if the roads were small and very local. The surrounding nature made the drive very enjoyable. We visited the site of a previously aired drama, Kita no Kuni Kara (北の国から）–or “From the North.”
The site was the actual location of when the show was shot, preserved for eternity. The actual houses used in the show are still standing. There are several sites available to the public, but they are quite separated from each other. We went to the main site of where the houses that the main character, Goro-san, lived and supposedly built from scratch. We paid ¥500 to enter the little compound, but if you wanted to see the other places, you have to pay a little extra for an inclusive ticket that would allow you to see all the locations. We passed on that and stuck to the main area.
Some of the interior has remained unchanged from when the drama aired. The drama stopped airing fifteen years ago in 2002, but people still come to visit this place because of its sentimental value.
If you’re not interested in the drama, it’s probably quite boring. However, it is one of those places that people go to see in Furano because the drama was quite popular. It aired for about 20 years, I think. But you can totally skip this place. My husband watched the show when he was younger, and he was able to explain the story as we walked along. It seemed like an interesting show.
Furano is not really known for onsens, but we had a soak at a place called Furano LaTerre. You can check out their site here. It has an outdoor bath with a spectacular view. But the main attraction is the different types of baths indoors. For example, you could soak on your own in an individual giant pot, or you could go to the Star Bath, where you are completely in the dark while gazing up at the stars. There’s also a jacuzzi and a sauna. You could also soak in a milky type of water or sit in a traditional wooden hinoki tub.
On the way home, we stopped at one of those rest areas you often see when you’re driving through Hokkaido. It was perfect because it was very close to a lake, Lake Katsurazawa in Mikasa. We stopped the car for a chance to stretch our legs a bit, and to see a giant dinosaur.
Wait, did you say dinosaur?
In such a random place, no less…
Okay, maybe it’s not so random. Apparently there were lots of dinosaur fossils found in this area. So much so that it was enough to have a museum erected nearby. We saw signs for the museum, but neither of us were particularly interested in going to see it. But the dinosaur by the lake was lots of fun.
Again, if you like driving, it was a quirky little stop in the area. Furano was the main destination, but the little stop at this lake was more memorable than the city itself.