Hokkaido and Furano in the Summer
Many people know that Hokkaido in Northern Japan boasts some of the best winter slopes and a magnificent Snow Festival. But did you know that Hokkaido is also a great place to escape from the summer heat and enjoy delicious dairy products?
The sprawling countryside that makes up the island of Hokkaido allows for the production of about half of the nation’s milk. Delicious dairy products like ice cream, butter, and cheese are also made here!
If you are traveling in Hokkaido outside of ski season, do not worry, there is still so much to explore! For a summer getaway filled with flowers, fresh melons, and dairy, head to the small city of Furano.
For those who are dairy lovers, you will not want to miss a visit to the Furano Cheese Factory. Here you can have a firsthand experience making your own mascarpone cheese, tasting unique gelato flavors, and munching on fresh pizza.
Getting to the Furano Cheese Factory
Furano is a quaint city with limited public transportation. If you have a car, the Cheese Factory is just a short 8-minute drive from the JR Furano station. For those without a car, you can catch the Furano bus, embark on a 50-minute stroll, or rent a bike in town. (My recommendation is to rent a bike!)
Furano Cheese Factory
Inside the Furano Cheese Factory, there is a small upstairs museum to meader through as well as fresh dairy products to sample and purchase for an outdoor picnic.
Here is a sample of black cheese. No, it has not gone bad, it’s made with black squid ink!
For those who like hands-on experiences, you can participate in one of the classes to learn how to make simple cheese, butter, bread, or ice cream. Read more about this below!
Stop by the ice cream store for soft-serve ice cream and unique gelato flavors like pumpkin, asparagus, grape sherbert, and honeyberry. Can you guess what flavor gelato this is?
Answer: …this is corn gelato!
This flavor had a nice sweetness and there were little bits of corn mixed in!
Hands-On Classes at the Furano Cheese Factory
At the Furano Cheese Factory, you can sign up for classes to make butter, ice cream, bread, or cheese. Most of the classes can be taken on the day of, but if you want to secure your spot, send a reservation email to: firstname.lastname@example.org . Prices vary depending on the class but are around ￥900 / person.
All of the materials are provided so you just need to bring yourself. While the classes are taught in Japanese, handouts are given that include illustrations and translations in English and Korean. To learn more about these experiences, check out the official site here.
Make Your Own Mascarpone Cheese!
The mascarpone cheese-making class is very straightforward and easy to understand. Only three ingredients are needed to make this cheese. (Milk, heavy cream, and lactic acid).
In the class, we heated the milk and heavy cream together, added lactic acid, then used gauze to strain the excess liquid once the mixture started to clump together.
It was cool to see the chemical transformation happen right before my eyes – it felt like I was back in science class 🧪!
The final step of the process was to knead the cheese with the spatula and add a bit of salt for seasoning.
After sticking on a handmade label, the mascarpone was complete!
The fresh cheese was tasty and since I had made quite a bit, I decided to head back to the central town market afterward to pick up bread, wine, and cold cuts for a proper summer picnic.
The Furano Cheese Factory is relatively small, but it is family-friendly and makes for a fun afternoon for those interested in indulging in some of Hokkaido’s best dairy.
Outside of the factory, are many other things to do in the surrounding area like visiting the Ningle Terrace, the famous Blue Pond, Tomita Lavender Farm, and Tomita Melon House. More on these locations coming soon!
Booking Your Stay in Hokkaido
Wondering how to book your hotels when you are in Hokkaido? Check out Booking.com! I find the app super easy to use and has reliably provided some of the best rates out there.
For more summer adventures in Japan, be sure to check out these posts!
- Summer in Japan: Special Celebrations and Surviving the Soaring Temps – Learn about what it is like living in Japan during the summer
- Solo Hiking the Nakasendo Trail: Complete Guide and Itinerary – Take a hike on one of Japan’s oldest trails that leads from Kyoto to Tokyo
- Aizome Traditional Indigo Dyeing in Kurume – Try your hand at traditional indigo dyeing in Kurume!