Due to COVID-19 outbreaks, certain facilities and establishments in Japan currently may be temporarily closed or have modified their operating hours. Please confirm directly with the facility before you go, and exercise appropriate caution during your visit.

Stay Safe in Japan Update: 21/09/2018, 19:14

More Information

Hokkaido 2019 - 10 Best Spots To View The Autumn Leaves

Hokkaido 2019 - 10 Best Spots To View The Autumn Leaves

Translated by Shinji Takaramura

Written by MATCHA

Hokkaido 2019.07.25 Bookmark

If you plan to visit Hokkaido in fall, don't miss the stunning autumn leaves. Read on to learn about the ten destinations to enjoy the view, along with Japanese hot springs and outdoor activities.

Autumn Leaves against a Grand Backdrop in Hokkaido

Hokkaido is the northernmost prefecture in Japan. It is blessed with beautiful outdoors, delicious seafood, and magnificent nighttime views, drawing a large number of visitors from all over the world.

If you plan to visit Hokkaido in fall, do not miss the autumn leaves. This article is about the ten popular spots and the best time for a visit to enjoy the fall colors, onsen (hot springs), and other activities.

The Autumn Leaves Season in Hokkaido

Due to its vast size, the viewing season in Hokkaido varies according to the location of each spot. Although the fall foliage looks best from October to early November in most areas, visitors can enjoy the scenery even in late August in Sounkyo, known to be the earliest viewing spot in Japan.

In 2019, the Kushiro area is estimated to peak around October 14, Obihiro around October 25, and Sapporo between October 30 and November 3.

The viewing seasons listed below in this article are based on data from the previous years, which is subject to change.

1. Activity-Filled Onuma Quasi-National Park

Onuma Quasi-National Park

Onuma Quasi-National Park is a massive park of 9000 hectares. It is blessed with stunning scenery and has been chosen as one of the New Three Views of Japan.

Visitors can enjoy various activities here, such as hiking, canoeing, and cycling at this park, all while viewing the autumn leaves. In winter you can also try wakasagi (pond smelt) fishing on a frozen lake.

There are buses from the Hakodate Station and Hakodate Airport, so the park can be accessed easily. From Hakodate Station, the limited express Hokuto reaches the park in thirty minutes.

Annual Viewing Season

From October 20 to late October

Onuma Quasi-National Park

View Map & Details

2. Japan's Earliest Autumn Colors - Sounkyo (Kamikawa)


Picture courtesy of Tourism Association of Sounkyo

From Asahikawa Airport, it takes eighty minutes by car to reach the huge canyon named Sounkyo. It is located near the entrance of Daisetsuzan National Park, the largest of its kind in Japan.

From Sounkyo Onsen (hot springs), Kurodake, located at the seventh stage of the mountain, can be reached by using the ropeway and lifts. From the ropeway station, it takes about an hour on foot to the mountaintop. The trek allows the visitors to fully take in the landscape, along with the great view from the mountaintop.

Visitors should stay at Sounkyo Onsen, as Momiji Daki, a famous viewing spot, is located at a thirty-minute walking distance from there. The trekking course should be easy to walk for beginners, but be sure to wear sports shoes.

The Daisetuzan area, including Kurodake, is said to be the earliest spot in Japan to enjoy the autumn leaves, where the mountaintop leaves start changing colors at late August. It is best to see it at the start of the season.

Annual Viewing Season

Mountaintop: From late August.
Eighth and ninth stages: From early September.
Fifth, sixth and seventh stages: From late September.
Sounkyo Onsen Area: From early October.

Sounkyo Visitor Center

Address: Hokkaido, Kamikawa-gun, Kamikawa-cho, Sounkyo Google Map
Access: Thirty-minute bus ride from JR Kamikawa Station (Sekihoku Main Line). The fare is 870 yen. Get off at "Sounkyo Onsen" bus stop, and it is a five-minute walk to Sounkyo.
Official Site: Sounkyo Visitor Center

3. Five Lakes of Shiretoko Goko (Shiretoko)

Shiretoko Goko

There are five lakes (goko) in the Shiretoko Peninsula, which is designated as a World Natural Heritage Site. Visitors can enjoy the autumn leaves in the area, walking along the two trekking courses surrounding the lakes.

Wheelchair users can access the Elevated Wooden Path, an 800-meter path stretching through the trees. As the area is a natural habitat of brown bears, this path is equipped with an electrified fence for safety and can be used for free.

The Ground Pathway winds through a deep forest, and visitors can see various wild animals and plants along the way. Please note that this path is closed from October 1 to November 11, the path is closed for renovations; the path is also closed when bears are active. For this pathway, normally visitors will be asked to join a paid lecture tour for most of the season.

Tour reservations can be made at the Shiretoko Goko Field House.

Annual Viewing Season

From early to mid-October.

Shiretoko Goko Field House

Address: Hokkaido, Shari-gun, Shari-cho, Onnebetsu-mura Google Map
Access: Ninety-minute ride from Shiretoko-Shari Station on the Shari Bus. The fare is 2,000 yen. Get off at "Shiretoko Goko" bus stop.
Official Site: Shiretoko Goko Field House

4. Autumn-Filled Jozankei (Sapporo)

Autumn-Filled Jozankei

From the central area of Sapporo, it takes about an hour by bus to reach Jozankei, where visitors can enjoy the autumn leaves while strolling along a mountain stream.

Futami Tsuribashi (suspension bridge) is a popular viewing spot that is completely surrounded by the foliage. Visitors can reach the mountaintop using the ropeway, and enjoy the view from high above.

There are many hot springs for day-trippers in the area, so you can even enjoy the view while soaking in the water. There are also fun canoeing and horseback riding activities.

Koyo Kappa Bus Tour is held during the autumn leaves season, from October 1 to October 20. The bus leaves from Jozankei Tourist Information Center, and tours the area for an hour, four times a day. The fare is 500 yen.

Annual Viewing Season

From early to mid-October.


View Map & Details

5. World-Class Hot Springs of Noboribetsu Onsen (Noboribetsu)

Noboribetsu Onsen

Nine types of onsen (hot springs) are featured at Noboribetsu Onsen, a prominent hot springs area in Hokkaido where ten thousand tons of hot water are used each day.

There are many varieties of trees colored gold and crimson at Jigokudani, the source of Noboribetsu Onsen, and Oyunuma, a former crater. The area is filled with volcanic gases and vapors from the hot springs, creating a perfect backdrop for the colorful scenery.

Annual Viewing Season

From mid- to late October.

Noboribetsu Onsen

Address: Hokkaido, Noboribetsu, Noboribetsu Onsen Google Map
Access: Fifteen-minute ride from Noboribetsu Station on the Donan Bus. The fare is 340 yen. Get off at "Noboribetsu Onsen" bus stop.
Official Site: Noboribetsu Onsen

6. Stunning Gingko Trees at Hokkaido University (Sapporo)

Hokkaido University

Hokkaido University may not be well known for its autumn leaves, as it is one of the major National Universities in Hokkaido, famous for its large campus in Sapporo.

Seventy ginkgo trees are lined up along a road stretching for 380 meters, with the yellow leaves virtually covering the sky. The campus is located only seven minutes away on foot from JR Sapporo Station, which is one of the reasons it has become popular.

Annual Viewing Season

From late October to early November.

Hokkaido University

Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Kita, Kita-hachijo, Nishi-go Google Map
Access: Seven-minute walk from JR Sapporo Station.
Official Site: Hokkaido University

7. Stunning View from Mt. Moiwa (Sapporo)

Mt. Moiwa

Sapporo is renowned throughout Japan for its spectacular evening scenery. This renowned view is from Mt. Moiwa, where the mountaintop is connected to the foothills by a ropeway.

Visitors can overlook the autumn leaves from the ropeway cars. In the autumn you can appreciate the leaves at daytime as well as the magnificent view of Sapporo at nighttime.

Annual Viewing Season

From mid- to late October.

Mt. Moiwa

View Map & Details

8. Star-Shaped Goryokaku (Hakodate)


Picture courtesy of City of Hakodate Tourism Department

Goryokaku is a star-shaped fixture, and one of the main sightseeing spots in Hakodate. Historically it was used as a fortress, built in the late Edo Period, and has been renovated into a park.

In spring the park will be colored pink by the cherry blossoms, and turn red and yellow in fall. The whole park can be viewed from the top of the 107-meter tall Goryokaku Tower.

Annual Viewing Season

From mid-October to early November.

Goryōkaku Tower

View Map & Details

9. Must-Visit Kosetsuen (Hakodate)


Picture courtesy of City of Hakodate Tourism Department

Another desitination in Hakodate for autumn colors, in addition to Goryokaku, is the Kosetsuen. It is a Japanese garden located inside Miharashi Park, which used to be the villa of a wealthy merchant.


Photograph courtesy of City of Hakodate Tourism Department

Kosetsuen offers a magnificent view throughout the year, but the autumn leaves are especially breathtaking, with the fallen leaves covering the ground in a carpet of gold and crimson. The garden is illuminated at night, creating a magical view.

Annual Viewing Season

From mid-October to early November.


Address: Hokkaido, Hakodate, Miharashi 56 Google Map
Access: Forty-minute bus ride from Hakodate Station on the No. 14 bus route. The fare is 270 yen. Get off at "Kosetsuen" bus stop.

10. Autumn Colors at the Blue Pond (Biei)

Blue Pond, Biei

Apple company chose a photograph of the Blue Pond in Biei for its OS wallpaper, making the destination famous intrrnationally. Although the view changes every season, the best time to visit may be from mid-May to late June, when the pond shows the most beautiful colors of cobalt blue.

The scenery in fall, with the leaves changing colors, and its reflection on the pond surface creating a multihued sight, is exceptional. Accessing this area may not be easy, but this a destination worth visiting.

Annual Viewing Season

From early to mid-October.

Blue Pond

Address: Hokkaido, Kamikawa-gun, Biei Shirogane Google Map
Access: Twenty-minute ride from JR Biei Station on the Dohoku Bus. The fare is 540 yen. Get off at "Shirogane Aoi Ike Iriguchi" bus stop.

Take in the Hokkaido Autumn

As Hokkaido is such a large prefecture, it will take time to move around! Be sure to check the routes to your destinations in advance, as there may be only a few ways of access.

In Hokkaido, there are many one-of-a-kind destinations where travelers can enjoy the foliage along with the hot springs or outdoor activities like canoeing and cycling. We are sure you will spend an unforgettable visit to Hokkaido in fall, filled with autumn colors.

Original article written by Miku Yasuda.
This article is a revised version of the original article, published on November 3, 2015.

Autumn leaves start changing from the north, beginning in the middle of September in Hokkaido. From mid-October to mid-December you can enjoy the scenery throughout the country. In this special feature, we introduce details on the fall foliage for each area in Japan, from famous spots to areas that are lesser known. With MATCHA’s articles as your guide, please enjoy Japan's gorgeous fall foliage!

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

Related topics