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Hokkaido 2022 - 10 Best Spots To View The Autumn Leaves

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

2022.03.26

Autumn Leaves against a Grand Backdrop in Hokkaido

Hokkaido is the northernmost prefecture in Japan. It's blessed with beautiful nature, 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, don't miss out on the autumn leaves. This article features ten popular spots and the best time for a visit to enjoy the fall colors, onsen (hot springs), and other autumn 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 as early as late August in Sounkyo, known as the earliest viewing spot in Japan.

In 2021, the Kushiro area is estimated to peak around mid-October, Obihiro around late October, and Sapporo in late October or early November.

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

*Due to COVID-19, travel restrictions may still be in place in Japan during the fall season. Please check for information on local policies when planning your trip.

1. Fun-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 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. Japan's Earliest Autumn Colors at Sounkyo (Kamikawa)

Sounkyo

Picture courtesy of Tourism Association of Sounkyo

From Asahikawa Airport, it takes about an hour and a half 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's about a one hour hike to the mountaintop. The trek allows the visitors to fully take in the landscape, not to mention the great view from the mountaintop.

Visitors should stay at Sounkyo Onsen, as Momiji Daki, a famous viewing spot, is located just a half hour walk away. The trekking course is easy 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 in late August. It's 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.

3. Five Lakes of Shiretoko Goko (Shiretoko)

Shiretoko Goko

There are five lakes (goko) in the Shiretoko Peninsula, which is designated 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 inhabited by 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, and when bears are active. For most of the season, visitors who wish to take this pathway will be asked to join a paid lecture tour.

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

Annual Viewing Season

From early to mid-October.

4. Floating Along at Jozankei (Sapporo)

Autumn-Filled Jozankei

From the central area of Sapporo, it's a one hour bus ride 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 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.


5. World-Class Hot Springs at 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 gold and crimson trees 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.

6. Stunning Gingko Trees at Hokkaido University (Sapporo)

Hokkaido University

Hokkaido University 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 filling the sky. The campus is located only a seven-minute walk from JR Sapporo Station, which is one of the reasons it has become a popular foliage viewing spot.

Annual Viewing Season

From late October to early November.

7. Panoramic View from Mt. Moiwa (Sapporo)

Mt. Moiwa

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

Visitors can look out over 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.


8. Star-Shaped Goryokaku (Hakodate)

Goryokaku

Picture courtesy of City of Hakodate Tourism Department

Goryokaku is a star-shaped fixture, and one of the main sightseeing spots in Hakodate. Built in the late Edo Period, it was once a fortress but has now 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.


9. Traditional Garden Kosetsuen (Hakodate)

Kosetsuen

Picture courtesy of City of Hakodate Tourism Department

Another great Hakodate destination is the Kosetsuen. It's a Japanese garden located inside Miharashi Park, which used to be the villa of a wealthy merchant.

Kosetsuen

Photograph courtesy of City of Hakodate Tourism Department

Annual Viewing Season

From mid-October to early November.

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 internationally. 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 their reflection on the pond surface creating a multi-hued sight, is exceptional. Accessing this area may not be easy, but this is a destination worth visiting.

Annual Viewing Season

From early to mid-October.


Take in the Hokkaido Autumn in 2022

As Hokkaido is such a large prefecture, it will take time to travel around! Be sure to check the routes to your destinations in advance, as some may be tricky to 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're sure you will have 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.
Main image courtesy of Tourism Association of Sounkyo

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.