All photos by Sarah A. Hasselle.
With purple lavender fields in summer and pure, white ski slopes in winter, Furano fulfills its role as “one of the ten most beautiful places in Japan” in all seasons. A central town in Hokkaido known for its picturesque landscape, Furano holds one novel treasure: Ningle Terrace, a group of 15 cottages hidden in the woods next to one of Furano’s most popular resorts, New Furano Prince Hotel.
The name “Ningle Terrace” refers to So Kuramoto’s book, Ningle. In this book, a 15 centimeter-tall character, “the Wise Man of the Forest,” inspired by Ainu belief, supposedly lived in Hokkaido’s woodlands in the past. Based off Kuramoto’s design, Ningle Terrace’s small circle of rustic cabins light up like candles on dark, quiet nights and gives the surrounding forest a cozy atmosphere similar to that of a children’s book. Opened in 1995, this site marks a local hub for artists, who come to this tranquil place to sell their craft, even in the dead of January, Hokkaido’s coldest month.
The types of handmade-crafts you can find there include pottery, jewelry, paper art, glass art and so on. Many crafts have a Furano-isque style, with products made out of natural materials, such as driftwood. While some products resemble the town's landscape, by displaying Furano’s famous flowers and hot air balloons, others take a more all-Hokkaido theme by exhibiting a winter snow-concept through items such as glass snowflake wind chimes and necklaces. The price of the products is usually relatively reasonable for the effort put into making them.
The line of illuminated log cabins gives this place a cozy atmosphere.Ningle Terrace is not only a place to come to appreciate local art, but it is also a spot to try hands-on workshops as well. Classes include chances to learn Japanese traditional candle-making, wooden puppet-making, kaleidoscope-making and paper crafts. These can all be attended in the Terrace’s "Ningle Atelier”. Reservations should be made in advance through the phone.
Because of its romantic atmosphere, Ningle Terrace is a hot spot for couples for a romantic evening out. The perfect time to go is at night, when the cottages’ lights glow against the dark sky and trees, giving visitors the impression of "fairy lights." After checking out some shops, you can grab coffee from the cafe located in the Terrace, the Coffeehouse. Alternatively, if you don't mind walking just down the gravel path from the main part, you can reach the famous coffeeshop called “Mori no tokee”. A drama called Yasashii Jikan ("A Tender Time") was filmed here. This coffeeshop has a bar with a view of the beautiful, green forest. This place allows you to grind your own coffee, and there is also a variety of snow-themed cakes. However, if you are a bit more hungry, you can order a delicious bowl of curry.
A waiter prepares coffee for customers at Mori no Tokee.
Cakes at Mori no Tokee.
Hand coffee grinders at Mori no TokeeIf you come to Furano in winter for skiing, you can additionally go to the small snow village located right across from the Terrace. This village is called “Furano Kankanmura”, and it is usually open from late December to early March. The village makes for good photos, and you walk among illuminated snow structures. In addition, there is a tiny ice bar, where you can order hot chocolate or alcoholic drinks. On the far side of the village is a place where you can try snow tubing. Other activities include dog sledding and riding a banana boat in the snow. However, if you do decide to go dog sledding, make sure to arrive there a bit early; they will close that activity after a certain time.
A couple walks from Mori no Tokee to Furano Kankanmura on the path down the hill from Ningle Terrace. Photo by Sarah A. Hasselle.
A man prepares drinks at the snow village’s ice bar.
Ningle Terrace usual hours: 12:00–20:45
Summer hours: 10:00–20:45 (July 1st–August 31st)
How to get there: 10 minutes by car from JR Furano Station.
Address: 18-6 Kitanominechō, Furano-shi, Hokkaidō 076-0034
Workshop reservation information
Phone number: +81 0167-22-1111
Website: Furano Tourism
Mori no Tokei
How to get there: 5 minute walk from the New Furano Prince Hotel
Furano Kankanmura (snow village)
Admission: 300 yen (free for elementary school students and younger)