Hokkaido has some of the most beautiful scenes in autumn! Hokkaido's autumn foliage season begins from around mid-September.
Let’s take a look at the beautifully colored mountains and streets lined with colorful trees! Here we'll share exactly when you can catch the fall leaves in Hokkaido in all their glory.
- Table of Contents
- When can you see autumn leaves in Hokkaido?
- 1. Mount Asahidake: See autumn beauty Daisetsuzan from the Asahidake Ropeway!
- 2. Ginga Falls and Ryusei Falls in Sounkyo: Two waterfalls flow in tandem off the colorful cliffs
- 3. Noboribetsu Jigokudani: Autumn leaves surrounding a smoky crater
- 4. Jozankei Onsen: A Hokkaido autumn foliage retreat in Sapporo
- 5. Nakajima Park: Reds and greens against the bustling cityscape
- 6. Hiraoka Jugei Center: Tunnel of Red Nomura Momiji Leaves
- 7. Hokkaido University Icho Namiki (Gingko Avenue): The Yellow Arch on Hokkaido University Campus
- 8. Shiretoko Pass: Dynamic Autumn Leaves that Cross the Mysterious Shiretoko
When can you see autumn leaves in Hokkaido?
According to the Japan Meteorological Corporation, the forecast for red leaves in 2021 for Hokkaido is in early November.
Fall colors in Hokkaido start from Mount Asahi in the Daisetsuzan Volcanic Group and move south. A unique feature of the mountains in Hokkaido is various broadleaf trees, and conifers are mixed, such as maple (kaede), Japanese rowan (nanakamado), black locust (niseakashia), Ezo spruce (Ezo matsu, and Sakhalin fir (todo matsu).
For this reason, there are three colors of red, yellow, and green which come together and create something special.
Also, you don’t have to go to the mountains or forest to enjoy the fall colors: you can find streets lined with trees like Japanese rowan, which turns red, and ginkgo (icho) and poplar, which turn yellow. The ginkgo in Hokkaido changes color around mid to late October, around 1 month before Tokyo.
1. Mount Asahidake: See autumn beauty Daisetsuzan from the Asahidake Ropeway!
・Best time to visit Mount Asahi in autumn: Mid-late September
From Asahidake Onsen Sanroku Station at an altitude of 1,000m, it takes 10 minutes riding the ropeway to reach Sugatami Station at 1,600m. From Sugatami Station, it takes about an hour's walk to reach the First Observation Point, Fourth Observation Point, Sugatami Observation Point, and Fifth Observation Point.
From here, you can view Hokkaido’s tallest Mountain, Mount Asahi (reaching 2,291m), and the reflection of Mount Asahi on Sugatami Pond. It is said that this is the first place in Japan where autumn’s colors start, and the best viewing season is from mid to late September. Japanese rowan and Erma’s birch (dakekanba) fill the mountainside with red and yellow.
Access: About a 2.5-hour drive from Sapporo City to Asahidake Onsen. 1 hour and 25 minutes via express train from JR Sapporo Station, get off at Asahikawa Station and take the shuttle bus Ideyu-Go for an hour and 30 minutes and get off at Asahidake.
2. Ginga Falls and Ryusei Falls in Sounkyo: Two waterfalls flow in tandem off the colorful cliffs
・Best time to visit Sounkyo in autumn: Late September ~ mid-October
Sounkyo is a hot spring area that is located in Kawakami Town, which is east of Asahikawa. Along the Ishikari River, there is a cliffside of about 24km in the valley. There are also around a dozen hotels in the area. In autumn, the cliffs of Sounkyo and Mount Kuro turn red and yellow.
A famous spot to view the colors is at Ginga Falls and Ryusei Falls, a pair of waterfalls about a 5-minute drive on National Route 39 from Sounkyo Onsen.
The pair of waterfalls have poetic names in Japanese: ginga meaning “galaxy” and ryusei meaning “meteor.”
After climbing for 20 minutes from the parking lot, you will reach the Sobakudai observation deck, where you can see both waterfalls and the colorful leaves sprawled across the cliff.
Access: About 3 hour and 45-minute drive from Sapporo. 1 hour and 25 minutes by express train from JR Sapporo Station, get off at Asahikawa Station and a 1 hour and 55 minutes by bus to Sounkyo.
3. Noboribetsu Jigokudani: Autumn leaves surrounding a smoky crater
・Best time to visit Noboribetsu Jigokudani in autumn: Mid-October
Jigokudani (Hell Valley) are areas in which volcanic activity is particularly pronounced, in the form of massive steam vents, bubbling open-air hot springs, or sulfur-coated hills. This particular hot springs area was created by the crater explosion due to Mount Hiyori’s volcanic activity.
Jigokudani, with a diameter of 450m, constantly has steam rising from it, and the desolate scenery looks like hell. There are wooden paths along Jigokudani, and you can view the gorgeous autumn scenery of Japanese rowan, Japanese sumac, and Erman’s birch.
4. Jozankei Onsen: A Hokkaido autumn foliage retreat in Sapporo
・Best time to visit Jozankei in autumn: Late September ~ mid-October
Jozankei Onsen is located in the southern part of Sapporo City. It is a hot spring area that was established in 1866 by the Buddhist monk Miizumi Jozan.
Thanks to convenient access from Sapporo City, it is called Sapporo’s Okuzashiki (a hot spring retreat) and sees many visitors throughout the year. There is a path to enjoy the beautiful valley, and especially the view from Jozankei Futami Suspension Bridge, which is a 10-minute walk from the hot spring district, is spectacular.
There are also free foot baths, so one can enjoy the beautiful view of the colorful valley and casually explore.
5. Nakajima Park: Reds and greens against the bustling cityscape
・Best time to visit Nakajima Park in autumn: Mid-October ~ early November
Nakajima Park is located 3km south of JR Sapporo Station and past Susukino. It is one of Japan’s City Parks and is also listed in Japan’s Top 100 Historical Parks.
From Nakajima Park's entrance, there is a path with ginkgo trees along the side and a large pond that reflects the beautiful Hokkaido autumn foliage. The park has a concert hall and is also home to important cultural properties such as Hoheikan and Hassouan. The colorful leaves on the trees around the pond and the city buildings are impressive.
6. Hiraoka Jugei Center: Tunnel of Red Nomura Momiji Leaves
・Best time to visit Hiraoka Jugei Center in autumn: Mid-late October
Hiraoka Jugei Center is a garden in Sapporo City and is also called Midoream. On the expansive grounds, there is a Japanese-style garden and a western-style garden. In the spring, 7 different types of cherry trees blossom, and in August, 700 trees of 8 types of momiji (Japanese maple) turn red.
It is famous for the red tunnel created by the Nomura momiji and has many visitors during the fall foliage season. Also, the design garden made of around 3,000 Japanese yew cut in a cone or round shape is impressive.
Hiraoka Jyugei center平岡樹芸センター
- Address 3 Chome-1 Hiraoka 4 Jo, Kiyota Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido 004-0874
- Phone Number 011-883-2891
Map Code: 9 324 022*80
7. Hokkaido University Icho Namiki (Gingko Avenue): The Yellow Arch on Hokkaido University Campus
・Best time to visit Hokkaido University Gingko Avenue in autumn: Late October ~ early November
Hokkaido University was originally established in 1876 as Sapporo Agricultural College. The large campus located on the northern side of Sapporo Station has many noteworthy sites such as the poplar tree-lined avenue, Hokkaido University Museum, and the historical building Sapporo Agricultural College Farm No. 2.
During autumn in Hokkaido, around 70 Japanese yew trees along the 380m street on campus will turn yellow. The branches create an arch that makes a spectacular view.
Hokkaido University Icho Namiki北海道大学イチョウ並木
- Address Hokkaido University, 5-7 Kita 13-jo Nishi, Kita-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido 001-0012
- Phone Number 011-716-2111
Map Code: 9 551 683*82
8. Shiretoko Pass: Dynamic Autumn Leaves that Cross the Mysterious Shiretoko
・Best time to visit Shiretoko Pass in autumn: Early-mid October
At the peak of Shiretoko Odan Road, which crosses the World Natural Heritage Site of Shiretoko Peninsula, is Shiretokotoge (Shiretoko Pass). From here, you can see Shiretoko’s highest peak, Mount Rausu, and Kunashir Island, part of the northern territories across the Nemuro Strait.
The pass, located at an altitude of 738m, is covered with Japanese stone pine (haimatsu), while Erma’s birch and Japanese rowan cover the slope in yellow. There is a parking area at Shiretoko Pass where you can enjoy the view.
- Address Yunosawacho, Rausu, Menashi District, Hokkaido 086-1822
・Phone Number: 0152-22-2125 (Shiretoko
Shari-cho Tourism Association)
・Map Code: 757 603 455*83
*Unless explicitly mentioned, all prices include tax.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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