Translated by Allie
Hokkaido's 6 Best Spots To View The Autumn Leaves In 2017
Autumn is one of the best seasons to visit Hokkaido because of its impressive autumn foliage, which starts the earliest in Japan, beginning in mid-September. This article features the 6 best places in Hokkaido to view the fall colors in 2017.
Written by Miku Yasuda
See the First Autumn Leaves of the Year in Hokkaido!
Hokkaido is the northernmost prefecture in Japan. There are so many charming things in Hokkaido, including food, night views and nature, that attract visitors from not only Japan but also all over the world. The last prefecture to see the cherry blossoms in spring, Hokkaido is also the first prefecture to have the autumn leaves, with some trees changing color in mid-September.
Hokkaido is also considered to be one of the best places to view fall foliage thanks to its immense scale. In this article we will be introducing the six most popular spots to view fall foliage in Hokkaido for 2017.
From Tokyo, Hokkaido can be reached easily either by plane in about 80 minutes or by bullet train in approximately 4 hours. For details on the most convenient ways to get to Hokkaido from Tokyo, please refer to our article: Ways To Travel From Tokyo To Hokkaido! A Thorough Comparison
1. Onuma Quasi-National Park
Onuma Quasi-National Park is located in southwest Hokkaido, 50 minutes away from Hakodate Airport by car. This huge 9083 hectare nature park possesses landscape so beautiful that it has been designated as one of the Three New Views of Japan.
One can participate in various activities like hiking, canoeing and cycling while fully enjoying the fall foliage. This park is also easily accessible via buses from Hakodate Station and Hakodate Airport.
Sounkyo, a huge gorge located right next to the entrance of the widest national park in Japan, Daisetsuzan National Park, is approximately one hour and twenty minutes away from Asahikawa Airport by car.
You can go up to the seventh station of this mountain by cable car or aerial lift while looking down at the spectacular fall foliage. It takes another hour to get to the summit on foot from the seventh station. A terrific spot for trekking as you can get close Hokkaido's nature.
3. Shiretoko Five Lakes
Shiretoko Peninsula, a World Heritage Site, has five lakes inside the deep forest. There are two trails which you could take to enjoy fall foliage while touring around the five lakes.
One path is an 800m long, wheelchair-accessible elevated wooden path. The Shiretoko goko area is home to the brown bear but worry not about bumping into them as electric fences are also set up along this path!
Another one is a boarded path which allows you to get closer to the wild animals and plants. A paid guided tour is mandatory from May to 20th October since it is the plant preservation period. Outside of this period, however, visitors get to hike for free.
You can observe beautiful fall foliage along the stream from the hot spring street in Jozankei area. Futamibashi suspension bridge is one of the popular spots you will pass along the way. Looking down at the stunning fall colors from the top of the mountain is an extraordinary experience, a privilege given to those going up by cable car.
There are hot springs where you can stop by to rest your tired feet. Enjoying the fall leaves while taking a hot spring is also one of the most exquisite things you can do here.
5. Noboribetsu Hot Spring
Jigoku Dani and Oyunuma in the Noboribetsu Onsen (Noboribetsu hot spring area) are part of Shikotsu-Toya National Park. One of the allures of this place is that it has various kinds of trees that turn a extraordinary blazing red.
Steam rising up from the springs strike an interesting contrast to the red foliage, making for an interesting sight.
6. Hokkaido University
Not as well known as a place for fall foliage, Hokkaido University has 70 ginkgo trees planted along its 380m-long street. Looking up while standing on that street, you will be greeted with a spectacular sight of golden yellow ginkgo leaves above your head.
Hokkaido University is located seven minute's walk from the JR Sapporo Station, easily accessible and ideal for the traveler who has extra time to kill.
There are tons more places to view fall foliage in Hokkaido that this article has not yet covered.
Viewing foliage while taking a hot spring or going about outdoor activities such as cycling and canoeing truly provides a unique experience. That is not all there is to it of course, because reading a book right in the middle of splendid nature or spending time with your loved ones is also a good way to enjoy this treasure of a place. Why not pay Hokkaido a visit?
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Onuma Quasi-National Park
Address: Hokkaido, Kameda, Nanae, Onumacho
Nearest Station: JR Onuma-Koen Station
Access: 5 minute walk from JR Onuma-Koen Station
Website: Onuma Quasi-National Park Guide (Japanese)
Address: Hokkaido, Kamikawa, Daisetsuzan National Park Sounkyo Onsen
Hours: Changes, best to check website
Nearest Station: JR Kamikawa Station
Access: 30 minutes by bus from JR Kamikawa Station, alight at Sounkyo bus stop.
Website: Tourism Association of Sounkyo Website
Shiretoko Goko Lakes
Address: Hokkaido, Shari-gun, Sharicho, Iwaubetsu Onnebetsumura
Hours: 07:30-18:00 (varies by season)
Closed: December to May
Nearest Station: JR Shiretoko-Shari Station
Access: Take the bus from Shiretoko-Shari Station
Website: Shiretoko Goko Lakes
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Minami, Jozankei
Nearest Station: JR Sapporo Station
Access: Take a Jotetsu bus from JR Sapporo Station bound for Jozankei and alight at Yu no Machi bus stop
Noboribetsu Hot Spring
Address: Hokkaido, Noribetsu, Noboribetsuonsencho
Hours: 09: 00-17:30（Winter 09:30-16:30）(Shikotsu-Toya National Park Lake Shikotsu information center)
Closed: During New Years
Nearest Station: JR Noboribetsu Station
Access: 15 minutes walk from JR Noboribetsu Station
Website: Tourism Association of Noboribetsu Website
Address: Hokkaido, Sapporo, Kita, Jonishi 5-7 Kita 13
Closed: During New Years
Nearest Station: JR Sapporo Station
Access: Seven minute walk from JR Sapporo Station
Website: Hokkaido University