Hokkaido 2018: Ten Best Spots to View The Autumn Leaves

Hokkaido 2018: Ten Best Spots to View The Autumn Leaves

Hokkaido 2017.10.17

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

Translated by Shinji Takaramura

Written by MATCHA

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The Autumn Leaves against a Grand Backdrop

Hokkaido is the northernmost prefecture in Japan. It is blessed with vast natural surroundings, delicious seafood and magnificent nighttime views, drawing a large number of tourists 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 onsen (hot springs) and various activities, along with the view.

The Autumn Leaves Season in Hokkaido

Due to its size, the viewing season in Hokkaido varies according to the spots' location. Although the autumn leaves are at their best from October to early November at most spots, visitors can enjoy the autumn leaves in late August at Sounkyo, the earliest viewing spot in Japan.

The viewing season listed in this article are based on data from the previous years, and may change from year to year.

1. Onuma Quasi-National Park

北海道

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

Visitors can enjoy various activities such as hiking, canoeing and cycling at this park, while viewing the autumn leaves. In winter they can also enjoy 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.

2. Sounkyo (Kamikawa)

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Photograph 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 trekking allows the visitors to enjoy the atmosphere, 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. Shiretoko Goko (Shiretoko)

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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 stroll 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, and can be used for free.

The Ground Pathway winds through a deep forest, and various wild animals and plants can be seen along the way. Please note that this path will be closed when the bears are active. At this pathway, visitors will be asked to join a charged lecture tour for most of the season. From October 21 to the end of the season, the pathway will be open to all visitors, free of charge. 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 2000 yen. Get off at "Shiretoko Goko" bus stop.
Official Site: Shiretoko Goko Field House

4. Jozankei (Sapporo)

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From the central areas 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, completely surrounded by the autumn leaves. 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 visitors can even enjoy the view while bathing. They can also have fun canoeing and horseback riding in a natural setting.

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.

5. Noboribetsu Onsen (Noboribetsu)

北海道で鮮やかな紅葉を楽しもう!紅葉スポット6選

Nine types of hot springs are available at Noboribetsu Onsen, a prominent hot springs area in Hokkaido where ten thousand ton of hot water is consumed every day.

There are various kinds of trees featuring autumn leaves at Jigokudani, the source of Noboribetsu Onsen, and Oyunuma, a former crater spewing vapors. 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-cho 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. Hokkaido University (Sapporo)

北海道で鮮やかな紅葉を楽しもう!紅葉スポット6選

Hokkaido University may not be well known as a viewing spot for the autumn leaves, as it is one of the prominent National Universities in Hokkaido, famous for its huge campus in Sapporo.

Seventy ginkgo trees are lined up along the 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-gochome Google Map
Access: Seven-minute walk from JR Sapporo Station.
Official Site: Hokkaido University

7. Mt. Moiwa (Sapporo)

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Sapporo has been chosen as one of the New Three Major Night View Cities of Japan, and the view can be seen from Mt. Moiwa, where the mountaintop is connected to the foothills by a ropeway.

Visitors can overlook the autumn leaves from the ropeway cars. Come fall, they will be able to appreciate the leaves at daytime, and the magnificent view of Sapporo at nighttime.

Annual Viewing Season

From mid- to late October.

8. Goryokaku (Hakodate)

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Photograph courtesy of City of Hakodate Tourism Department

Goryokaku is a star-shaped building, and one of the main sightseeing spots in Hakodate. It used to be a fortress built in the late Edo Period, which has been renovated into a park.

In spring, the park will be colored pink by the cherry blossoms, and by the autumn leaves in fall. The whole park can be viewed from the top of Goryokaku Tower, which rises up to 107 meters.

Annual Viewing Season

From mid-October to early November.

9. Kosetsuen (Hakodate)

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Photograph courtesy of City of Hakodate Tourism Department

Another viewing spot in Hakodate besides Goryokaku is the Kosetsuen. It is a Japanese garden located inside Miharashi Park, which used to be a retreat of a wealthy merchant.

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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. The garden will be illuminated at night, creating a fantastic view.

Annual Viewing Season

From mid-October to early November.

Kosetsuen

Address: Hokkaido, Hakodate, Miharashi-cho 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. Blue Pond (Biei)

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Apple once chose a photograph of the Blue Pond in Biei for its OS wallpaper, making the pond famous. 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. The access may not be easy, but this is a place worth visiting.

Annual Viewing Season

From early to mid-October.

Blue Pond

Address: Hokkaido, Kamikawa-gun, Biei-cho, 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.

In Conclusion

Due to its size, it will take time to move around in Hokkaido, So be sure to check the route to your destination in advance, as the access may be limited.

There is a wide variety of spots where visitors can enjoy the autumn leaves along with the hot springs or activities such as canoeing and cycling. A visit to Hokkaido in fall, filled with the view of autumn leaves, should make a special memory.

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

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