Go to see the blooming flowers in Hokkaido – Special tourism trains run for Furano & Biei

JR Hokkaido will hold the campaign “Furano/Biei 2023 by JR” around the Furano and Biei area, which is in the high season for tourism, and operate the extra trains for tourists called the “FURANO LAVENDER EXPRESS” and the “FURANO-BIEI NOROKKO TRAIN”.

JR Hokkaido's DE15 diesel locomotive and a 510 series trolley passenger car as the sightseeing train "FURANO-BIEI NOROKKO TRAIN" stopping at Furano Station (まこりげ/Photo AC)
JR Hokkaido’s DE15 diesel locomotive and a 510 series trolley passenger car as the sightseeing train “FURANO-BIEI NOROKKO TRAIN” stopping at Furano Station (まこりげ/Photo AC)

2 hours from Sapporo…Furano is close by train!

There are many spots in Furano and Biei that you should visit at least once during this season, such as “Farm Tomita” where flowers such as lavender are in full bloom, and “Blue Pond” where dead larch trees create a magical atmosphere. JR’s official campaign website (in Japanese only) has a model course that starts and ends in Sapporo and Asahikawa, where you can tour classic sightseeing spots using only trains and tour buses.

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From Sapporo Station, the convenient limited express train “Furano Lavender Express” will start operating from June 10, 2023 (Sat), connecting you to Furano Station in about two hours without changing trains. The rolling stocks used are KIHA 261 series 5000’s “Lavender” unit, and the appeal point is the comfort of using Wi-Fi and power outlets in all carriages and seats. Also pay attention to the head mark, which will be a new design from this year.

On July 2 (Sun) and 3 (Mon), the event “Furano Train Marche” will be held where you can experience sightseeing in Furano and Biei on the “FURANO LAVENDER EXPRESS.” In Car 1 “Lavender Lounge”, which is used as a free space, events such as “Furano Wine” tasting event and lavender scent experience will be held with the cooperation of the people of the Furano Biei Wide Area Tourism Promotion Council.

In addition, special sales of railway goods will be held on the trains to Sapporo as a “Weekend Train Marche” on Saturdays, with some exceptions. At the sales counter in Car 1, staff from the Furano Tourism Association will be selling items that can only be purchased onboard, such as the station plate magnet (See the chart below for details such as the timetable of the “FURANO LAVENDER EXPRESS” and the “FURANO-BIEI NOROKKO TRAIN”).

[Chart] The timetable of the "FURANO LAVENDER EXPRESS" and the "FURANO-BIEI NOROKKO TRAIN"

Trolley trains run leisurely at “highlights”

On the Furano Line, the trolley train “FURANO-BIEI NOROKKO TRAIN” that runs leisurely through fields will appear, and an extra station “Lavender-Farm Station” will also be opened. One of the 3-car trains has reserved seats, so a reserved seat ticket is required in addition to the ticket. On the operating days in August and September, the diesel locomotive (DL) that pulls the coaches will be changed, and you will be able to enjoy the different design of the train.

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At some of the “highlights” along the line, the speed of trains will be slowed down, so you can take your time and enjoy the magnificent scenery from the open-air train window. The interior of the train will be decorated with artificial flowers of lavender or others, and each station will be decorated with welcome banners and flags so that you can feel the uniqueness of Furano and Biei. On June 10 (Sat), the first day of service, people along the railway and local characters will welcome passengers at some stations.

In addition, there is no on-board sales on the Furano/Biei Norokko Train, so during the hot summer months, you are encouraged to bring your own beverages with you when riding.

Those who board the “FURANO LAVENDER EXPRESS” and the “FURANO-BIEI NOROKKO TRAIN” will receive a boarding certificate as a souvenir of their trip. The design for the “FURANO LAVENDER EXPRESS” varies depending on the destination, and the “FURANO-BIEI NOROKKO TRAIN” varies depending on the season. In addition, as a collaboration project of two trains, there is a mechanism that connects the designs by arranging the backs of the certificates that can be obtained on each train.

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