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Winter car rental in Furano 2011/11/2 11:42
Grateful for anyone's accurate info - I wish to rent a car in Furano in mid-January to drive to some out-of-the-way places further north such as Asahidake and Sounkyo/Kurodake. I would like to drop the car off at New Chitose Airport (Sapporo) several days later. Since I don't speak or read Japanese, an English GPS would be a must. Many thanks!!
by woodchuck (guest)  

Re: Winter car rental in Furano 2011/11/2 12:25
Toyota has an outlet in Furano. Toyota may not be the cheapest option but they always supply an English GPS on request.
http://rent.toyota.co.jp/rental/1-4-1-2.asp?sFlg=3&prev=04&rCode=61101...

You can also book JR rental through ToCoo.
http://www2.tocoo.jp/?file=rentcar_inbound/branch&id=82019&prefecture=...

Note that by renting in Furano and returning in Chitose Airport, it will involve an additional drop-off charge.

The next and most important question is how confident are you in winter driving. At home we have to face that problem every winter and we will never dream of doing it in Hokkaido. We did drive twice in Hokkaido, once during summer and another during autumn but definitely we won't do it during winter months.

By public transport there are buses going to Asahidake and Sounkyo from Asahikawa.
by William5 rate this post as useful

Re: Winter car rental in Furano 2011/11/2 12:40
William, thank you!

We spend our winters in northern Vermont, so we are no strangers to driving in snow and ice for months on end. I saw online the possibility of RVs and snow tires, in which case I would feel ok. My Hokkaido destinations are rather remote and the bus/train schedules involve a tremendous amount of travel time. Plus I'll have skis and gear with me....

Thanks again!
by woodchuck (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Winter car rental in Furano 2011/11/2 13:31
Well, in that case enjoy a fantastic winter vacation in Hokkaido then.

BTW, hope you will be in Sounkyo during the latter half of Jan. for its Hyoukabku Matsuri (Ice Waterfall Festival) which is held from Jan 21 to Mar 25 next year. Additional firework display will be on during weekends.

http://www.sounkyo.net/index.html

by William5 rate this post as useful

Re: Winter car rental in Furano 2011/11/3 08:09
William, thanks!

Unfortunately, I will be in Sounkyo closer to the middle of the month of January, before the ice festival - next time!

I am also interested to find out if the ropeway and separate chairlift above it at Kurodake will be running in mid-January...this has been difficult information to find and I gather one or both of the lifts are sometimes not open - oters have said not to go for skiing unless they are both open.

Finally, do you think hotel rooms will be easy to get without reservations? Depending on conditions (snow, driving), having a car will allow me flexibility to move about, so I would like to try to avoid making a lot of reservations.

My best wishes and thanks again,
by woodchuck (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Winter car rental in Furano 2011/11/3 09:47
The following is the schedule for the Kurodake ropeway and chain-lift. It seems that from Jan 4 to Jan 19, 2012 both the ropeway and chain-lift will be closed for maintenance and the chain-lift won't resume operating till Feb 24. You can monitor the webpage for any possible update information when the time comes to travel.
http://www.rinyu.co.jp/modules/pico01/index.php?content_id=1=

My wife feels uncomfortable without booking accommodation in advance so we almost already book beforehand. But you are right into thinking that it is more flexible to find accommodation along the way, especially on a self-drive trip. Quite often we find we can drive a bit "further" if not for the reserved accommodation at a designated location. On the other hand booking in advance sometimes has the advantage of getting hold of a budget deal which is unlike if you just walk in.
by William5 rate this post as useful

Re: Winter car rental in Furano 2011/11/3 21:21
William, thank you again!

It sounds like our wives would like one another - I like to move about with less of a plan and my wife likes certainty!

The ropeway schedule is very helpful, thanks. I cannot read Japanese but I gather "^x" means closed! Perhaps I will spend more time skiing at Asahidake on the other side of the mountain instead. I will monitor this site as you suggest.

Finally - cars - it turns out that to do a "one-way" rental (dropping off at New Chitose Airport), it is not possible from any of the agents in Furano. TooCo says it is possible from Asahikawa, so I may go there to pick the car up.

Never a dull moment! Thanks again,
by woodchuck (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Winter car rental in Furano 2011/11/4 04:03
Yes, ^x means closed for maintenance, [vEFC is ropeway, tg is chain-lift.

No drop-off even for Toyota!? That is a bit of a surprise to hear.

One more thing about driving; try to go for expressway if you can (although in central Hokkaido that means only between Sapporo and Asahikawa). Not simply because it is safer to drive, but rather to avoid the possibility of road closure during winter months on minor routes which is not uncommon.

There are a couple of Japanese websites that monitor the road conditions in Hokkaido with webcams.
http://info-road.hdb.hkd.mlit.go.jp/index_gazou.htm
http://northern-road.jp/navi/index_touge.htm

Northern-road has an English route search page for finding out driving distance and time.
http://northern-road.jp/navi/eng/index.htm

Wives are all alike, lol. I hope yours is not too alike mine:
http://picasaweb.google.com/WilliamCWP512/AutumnInJapan#54144142178957...
by William5 rate this post as useful

Re: Winter car rental in Furano 2011/11/5 11:36
William, thank you!

Very funny picture...I hope your wife can also laugh about it! Mine thinks I am crazy going off to back country ski in remote places (Japan, Iceland, Chile, etc). Oh, well - to each his own.

I appreciate the tips on drive times and conditions, duly noted!

Best wishes,
by woodchuck (guest) rate this post as useful

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