Many people think and say that Hokkaido’s autumn foliage is not as awesome as Kyoto. Practically, it is wrong and you should ignore them who say such a thing which could even mislead you from experiencing a great holiday to this second largest island of Japan. Hokkaido is home to many wild animals, boasts about its unspoiled nature, with no intention of being famous though. Sometimes it is better when less visitors visit it. Do you know why? It helps the wild animals dwelling on their own way; there is no one to disturb their homes.
The Hokkaido region knows how to blow your mind with its stunning autumn colors. I admit that Kyoto is the queen of fall colors but viewing fall foliage in the wild is different thing than spotting them on the grounds of temples & shrines. Can you see the difference? Hokkaido gives birth a new Japan’s koyo season every year, usually from mid-September to late-September. Yes, it beings here! The season lasts for more than a month shining the unspoiled nature with a new hope. The itinerary you are going to see below would help you making a plan on visiting Hokkaido in autumn. Hopefully, you would find it very useful.
Exclusive 2016 Hokkaido Autumn Itinerary for 7 Days
Oh god! Hokkaido is big. It is a kind of a challenge arraigning everything for you. If you are smart enough you can split them up and make your own itinerary and even extend it to a few more days. After all you will be visiting, not me! Your taste is different than mine, right?! I won’t cover all the best Hokkaido’s autumn leaves viewing spots here; I would only pick some and add some other places to fill the bucket. Please note that this itinerary is not only for experiencing fall foliage but much more than that. For example, a little bit hiking/trekking, eating popular local delicacies, unique accommodation idea, historic place expedition, and exploring national treasure. This itinerary is perfect for those who are thinking of visiting Hokkaido form mid-September to mid-October.
Chitose to Asahikawa – Day 1
Welcome to Hokkaido! Hop on the train to get to Asahikawa from Minami-Chitose Station. I don’t know when you land in New Chitose Airport but I know it is takes about 2.5 hours from Chitose Station to Asahikawa Station by train. If you take a flight from Haneda Airport operated by All Nippon Airways (ANA) in the early morning then after one and a half hour you will land in Chitose Airport. I hope you will reach Asahikawa before afternoon. In Asahikawa, check into the hotel you have booked online. Have some rest and take your lunch.
If you are not tired then visit the two places around the city: Asahiyama Zoo and Asahikawa Ramen Village. First visit the zoo then head towards the Ramen village. You can have your dinner at one of the restaurants there with greatest Asahikawa ramen. Get back to the hotel and sleep nicely.
Asahikawa to Asahidake Onsen – Day 2
Let’s go for a hike, enjoy the fall colors and view the magnificent Mount Asahidake summit in the Daisetsuzan National Park. Take the bus to Asahidake Onsen from Asahikawa Station. Please note that Asahidake is said to be the first place in Japan to see autumn foliage and snow each year. Asahidake Onsen is nothing but a small hot springs resort and one of the bases to explore the National Park.
The main thing for why actually you come here is for a little hiking/trekking adventure. And this expedition can be done once you finish the circular trail around the ropeway’s upper station. Anyone can take this course in order to see vibrant colors of the nanakamado bushes. In addition, you will see volcanic smoke coming from Mt. Asahidake. It is less than an hour hiking course. In addition, there are other easy walking trails around the hot springs resort. Before doing this all, I suggest you to visit the visitor center where you would get some useful travel tips. Get back to Asahikawa on the day.
Asahikawa to Sounkyo Onsen – Day 3
Sounkyo is a must visited place in Daisetsuzan National Park, especially in the fall. You reach to Sounkyo Onsen from Asahikawa Station by direct buses. The surrounding forested valleys of Mount Kurodake look pretty shiny and colorful with fall foliage. You can experience it by the Kurodake Ropeway. The ropeway station is located in the back of the village center, next to the Sounkyo Visitor Center. There is a hiking opportunity at the top of the ropeway. In addition, Sounkyo offers several bath houses operated mostly by ryokan. The good news is that some ryokan allow bathing facility to non-staying guests. So take this opportunity and be relaxed for some times. You can roam around the hot spring resorts and find beautiful spots for taking photos of nature. Get back to Asahikawa again and stay overnight.
These two places would be great to visit if you come to Hokkaido from mid-September to early-October.
Asahikawa to Nakafurano – Day 4
It is time for experiencing a farmstay in Furano! I recommend you book a room at Guesthouse Akane-yado, located in Nakafurano area. This Japanese-style house is surrounded by beautiful farmlands. You can have a wonderful time exploring the outdoor beauty in an early autumn day. The surrounding landscapes are just breathtaking. If you are visiting Biei and Furano then staying a night is recommended here. You won’t just love the Japanese style rooms rather you will be overwhelmed seeing the vast farmlands including the mountains in the background. I stayed there few days and had a very memorable time. It was so sweet! From the guesthouse you can visit some attractions such as the Farm Tomita, the Furano Cheese Factory and the Furano Winery.
Furano to Sapporo – Day 5
“Furano>>>Takikawa>>>Sapporo” – this is the route on the way back to Sapporo from Furano by train. Alternatively, you can take direct highway buses to Sapporo. I hope you will be in Sapporo before 12:00 pm if you manage yourself catch the early train or bus. You can book your room from one of the hotels located near JR Sapporo Station. What about Nest Hotel Sapporo Ekimae? It is a great hotel, I was satisfied with their service & support. Check-in immediately! You can have you lunch at Nemuro Hanamaru located in the JR Tower Stellar Place.
Then Have some rest or take a nap if you want. In the evening, you walk along the Odori Park. It would be great if you could participate in the Sapporo Autumn Fest. This food festival takes place in Odori Park (from September 9 to October 1, 2016), here you can try the best regional cuisines of Hokkaido. Order your dinner from the food vendors and satisfy your stomach. In addition, you can observe the whole park and the surrounding city up from the observation deck of Sapporo TV Tower. Stay overnight in Sapporo.
Sapporo to Jozankei Onsen – Day 6
The best hot springs resort town adjacent to Sapporo is the Jozankei Onsen. When I was there in the fall, the whole resort town seemed me a wonderland of fall colors. It is said that there are about 56 sources of hot spring in the Jozankei spa resort. According to me, it is a historic hot springs resort in Hokkaido that was discovered by an ascetic monk, Miizumi Jozan in 1866. In order to heal injured and sick people, the monk put a great amount of work into developing the area. The area consists of several ryokans, shops, restaurants, foot baths, temple, dams, waterfalls, bridge, river, walking trails and so on. One can spend a whole day here exploring the attractions it offers you.
The reason behind visiting this beautiful onsen in autumn is that you will be overwhelmed by the fall foliage you experience there as well as it is easy to get there from Sapporo Station by the Jotetsu Bus. Stay overnight in Sapporo.
Explore Downtown Sapporo – Day 7
It is a final day here in Sapporo before you leave for home tomorrow morning. If you want then head to Hokkaido University’s Ginkgo Avenue and enjoy your time walking along the path. The best time to see fall foliage there is mid-October. You can see fall colors there on the first week of October; they may not be in their full glory but who cares! Also pay visit to Nakajima Park, Maruyama Park, Sapporo Beer Museum, Mount Moiwa, Sapporo Clock Tower and do shopping at Tanuki koji Shopping Street. Stay your last night in Sapporo, pack things well before you fly back to home on the following morning. Goodbye! If you don’t know how to spend a day in Sapporo then please take a look at this suggested itinerary.
The places I have chosen for you to stay overnight are all family friendly. Bring light jacket here because it gets cold in autumn. Buy 7 day Japan Rail Pass to use JR train and buses in Hokkaido. I hope this suggested 7 days Hokkaido itinerary helps you decide where to go for fall colors, where to stay, where to eat and where to shop in Hokkaido.
Where is Lake Toya expedition here? It is not famed for viewing fall colors but visiting it on a shiny autumn day would be memorable. Add one more day to this itinerary plan and make it happen right away. Alternatively, forget about visiting Sounkyo Onsen and save the day. In that case, give more priority to Lake Toya. And after traveling to Asahidake Onsen head directly towards Nakafurano.
I am extremely sorry that I could not add Hokkaido’s other top fall foliage spots which usually are located in Hakodate and Shiretoko Peninsula. You know Hokkaido is vast, and if you could manage 3 more days for this itinerary then there is a chance of exploring Shiretoko peninsula including some part of Akan National Park. Thank you.
Copyright 2016 @ takkhis