What are the best things to do and see in Hokkaido in the fall? If this is the question you have in your mind, then rest assured that you will be informed some very important travel guides here in this post. Bear in mind that mid October is the best month to visit Hokkaido if you are to catch the peak fall foliage time.

In the fall, Hokkaido – the second largest island of Japan offers visitors to discover many interesting sights and events that are worth visiting and experiencing. It has a reputation for being the earliest place to see fall colors in the country.

Ginkgo Tree Avenue – Hokkaido University. Photo Credit: MIKI Yoshihito at Flickr.

If visiting Hokkaido is in your travel bucket list, make sure you choose the right time to embark on a trip, and bear in mind that Hokkaido is a four season destination. Yes it is! It can be explored at any time of year based on your expectation though.

If you are coming here in the winter, you will discover the winter festivals, while spring and summer make you speechless featuring its stunning flower fields, and while autumn is phenomenal showing its gorgeous colors throughout the region. Be prepared to see a list of autumn activities that you are supposed to experience in Hokkaido.

1) Autumn Leaves

Autumn leaves, lake, and mountains in the background – Shiretoko Goko Lakes. Photo Credit: blogs.yahoo.co.jp.

Momiji (red leaf) is the prime reason why people want to go to Hokkaido each autumn. There are tons of deciduous trees found in the designated national parks, mountain slopes, along the river banks, and streets that provide delightful views of vibrant shades. Here, you would never get tired of looking at the fall colors. Would you?

As their utmost beauty can be seen almost every place in the region, still planning a trip to some of the designated national parks of Hokkaido will reveal the actual fall beauty of unspoiled nature.

To make your trip a great adventure I could highly recommend you exploring Shiretoko peninsula’s five lakes (Shiretoko Goko Lakes) and Sounkyo to see gorgeous fall colors including wild animals and beautiful waterfalls. These areas are breathtakingly awesome holiday destinations for outdoor lovers.

If your Hokkaido trip is short and you run out of time, then visiting Hokkaido University Gingko Tree Avenue, Nakajima Park, and Jozankei Onsen would fulfill your dreams and even can exceed your own expectations. And yes, you don’t need to go far away from the capital city to see the incredible views of changing colors.

2) Daisetsuzan National Park: Hiking in the Woods

Daisetsuzan National Park – the largest national park in Japan. Photo Credit: Dimitry B. at Flickr.

Located in the center of the Hokkaido region, Daisetsuzan National Park (Taisetsuzan) is a notable hiking spot, and a highly recommended place to go on a hike during the autumn to see earliest fall foliage in Japan.

It comprises unspoiled wilderness, hot spring resort towns, hiking trails, lakes, awe-inspiring landscapes all over the area. If you think yourself as an outdoor lover, you will find it ideal to make your dream comes true.

Walking through a natural setting, especially in Hokkaido’s unspoiled nature would seem to you very reinvigorating and interesting. You may attempt to climb some mountains here in Hokkaido.

They are easy to climb, so you don’t have to have hiking gears that are used to climb Mount Everest. A pair of nice hiking boot with a backpack containing dry foods and drink would be enough.

The journey would be a thrilling adventure for sure. There is likely to witness wild animals on the way such as sika deer, squirrel, red foxes and birds of various species, but don’t you ever pray to god to encounter a brown bear.

The area boats of having wonderful picture-perfect mountains with exciting trails to walk along. That’s simply awesome to think of planning a hike you know.

I have always been fascinated by its autumn nature. One of the big reasons is I like going on a hike in the woods while fall foliage starts appearing so brightly in the areas of Daisetsu Kogen Onsen, Asahidake Onsen and Sounkyo Onsen. It does not matter how long your hike take, but the matter is how you actually immerse yourself into the beauty of the fall colors.

3) Migratory bird watching in Bibai

White-fronted goose in Miyajima-numa. Photo Credit: trasroid at Flickr.

Bird watching is one of the very interesting outdoor activities you would fall in love with in Hokkaido. A lot of migratory birds fly to Japan through Hokkaido from Siberia. It happens before arriving of the harsh winter season (autumn) and after the end of it when they begin to fly off to Siberia (spring).

Their final destination is on Japan’s largest Island Honshu, where they spend the winter in the marshlands. Their journey to Honshu from Siberia takes a long time. Considering this fact, they make a stopover at Miyajima-numa in Bibai city.

Miyajima-numa, a small marshland and a designated site of Ramsar Convention Treaty, is known for hosting thousands of migratory birds among them you witness the largest number of greater white-fronted geese. There is a nature center where you find a lot of useful information on migratory birds and the swamp.

If you think that bird watching is a fun outdoor activity then why don’t you head over to Bibai? Rent a car or hire a taxi to get to the city. It’s an hour ride from Sapporo. Spending a night is highly recommended. You must arrive there in the evening around 4:00pm when they return to rest the night in the swamp. Stay overnight, and wake up very early in the morning to see their take off at 5:00am.

4) Lake Notoro Coral Grass

What an amazing scenery! Photo Credit: Nana* at Flickr.

Lake Notoro is a very cool place to kick off a day tour in Abashiri. The main attraction of this stunning landmark is the coral grasses (glasswort) that grow in abundance in Lake Notoro, located next to the sea of Okhotsk. It’s a salt water lake that transforms into a magical place in the fall.

Deep red colored grasses that grow in the lake look pretty overwhelming. If you are in Abashiri in the month of September, then a visit to Lake Notoro will be a glorifying experience.

To enjoy the surrounding views you are offered to take a stroll along the wooden elevated boardwalk. Mid September is the best time to visit this scenic spot.

This is without question Abashiri’s one of the most popular fall sightseeing attractions. You will find a lot of great space to take incredible photographs of the surrounding landscapes. Spending an hour or more seeing the red coral grasses will leave you breathless.

Do you mind visiting it this fall? I hope you don’t.

5)  Sapporo Autumn Fest

The festival is so lively. Photo Credit: MIKI Yoshihito at Flickr.

It’s about a food festival in Hokkaido!

Hokkaido’s biggest food festival is the Sapporo Autumn Fest, which takes place in Odori Park, located right in the heart of Sapporo city. Locals there are very intrigue to participate in this food festival, while food enthusiasts including travelers from other parts of Japan find it as a perfect place to taste Hokkaido’s local specialties that include Sapporo Beer, King Crabs, Ramen, Ishikari Nabe, Sushi, Soft-served Ice Cream, Genghis Khan, Yubari Melon, Soba Noodles, Sweets and other various kinds of popular dishes.

There are a list of mouthwatering foods can be found and purchased for both vegetarian and vegan as well. I will not share the name of the dishes here because sometimes I believe it’s worth roaming around every corner of the festive site. Thus how you have to find your perfect dishes and drinks.

Would you please follow this link to learn more about the festival? I appreciate it, thank you. It will teach you a lesson why you should participate in it at least once in your life.

6) Jozankei Onsen

Jozankei Onsen during the fall. Photo Credit: jozankei.jp.

Jozankei is defiantly a classic fall foliage spot in Hokkaido. From public foot bath to private hot spring bath, incredible picture-perfect forested valley to thrilling outdoor activities, this is a favorite place for many seasoned travelers. The surrounding areas in this hot spring resort town are worth exploring, especially in the fall and winter.

What can one expect from a day trip to Jozankei from Sapporo? You can experience a relaxed bus ride to the spot from Sapporo, foot bath, private hot spring bath at one of the ryokans, leisurely stroll around the area, enjoy the gorgeous fall colors while crossing the Nishikibashi Bridge that stands over the Toyohiragawa River, a trip to Hokeikyo dam from Jozankei Onsen, outdoor activities like canoeing and many more.

The best time to see fall foliage in the area is in mid October.

7) Fruit Picking

Your little ones can pick some apples at Yamamoto Sightseeing Orchard, Hokkaido. Photo Credit: Yamamoto Sightseeing Orchard.

Autumn is the season of the harvest, everyone knows it. Hokkaido’s vast land is fertile to produce a large amount of crops which include fruits, vegetables, and grain. The best part about Hokkaido’s fruit picking is that most of its farms are surrounded by breathtaking landscape, beautifully designed and well organized.

Fruit picking on the island has been considered one of the top recommended outdoor fall activities alongside autumn leaves viewing, and hiking.

Everyone enjoy fruit picking, both among the locals and tourists alike. Before you heading off to any of the popular fruit picking spots in Hokkaido, make sure you check out their official website first. This will allow you to plan your trip and arrive at the right time to give you the chance to pick some seasonal fruits of different kinds.

Yamamoto Sightseeing Orchard, Sobetsu Fruit Village, Jozankei Farm, Maruzen Sato Orchard, and Asadaen Farm are the most popular fruit picking spots in Hokkaido where you might be interested in spending some time picking and eating juicy grapes, apples, persimmons, pears, mandarins, and so on.

Want to enjoy the autumn harvest on a farm located near Sapporo? Pay a visit to Sapporo Satoland then. It offers a list of fun activities for the whole family that everyone can enjoy.

8) Nemuro Sanma Festival

Grill your sanma and enjoy its taste!

Have you ever wanted to visit Nemuro? It’s the easternmost city of Japan, a lovely port city that offers visitors a food festival known as Nemuro Sanma Matsuri.

Sanma or Pacific saury is a seasonal fish mostly caught in abundance in eastern shores of Hokkaido. In Japan, there is a list of most popular autumn foods to try and among them Sanma is on the top of the list. It’s the best seasonal treat you should try eating during autumn in Japan.

The Nemuro Sanma Festival is an autumn festival, where you can eat as many as grilled sanma you can consume. Alongside the festival, there are other events are held to entertain the visitors.

The festival takes place in Nemuro around mid September.

9) Scenic Road Trip in Biei and Furano

You will fall in love with Biei’s impressive landscape while driving your car. Photo Credit: Syuzo Tsushima at Flickr.

Biei is known for its picturesque landscape. The roads there are pretty stunning to drive along and the surrounding landscape views make a great outdoor adventure. There are countless scenic drives across the region, and it would always be an uplifting experience to drive a car along the roads of Biei and Furano.

Winter is not the best time to enjoy a scenic drive in Hokkaido. The reason behind this is – it snows a lot there, and you will be in trouble while driving your car. Keeping all these thing in mind, before winter shows up, you should embark on a scenic road trip to enjoy the beautiful surrounding that fall season has to offer you.

Gently rolling hills of Biei and the mountain ranges in the background will inspire you returning back there again either in the spring and summer. A road trip in these areas will not just make you feel great seeing those awe-inspiring landscapes but also let you discover many popular touristic spots including historic farms, and museums.

For a great Farmstay during your trip please check in here.

10) Marimo Festival in Lake Akan

The procession of the matsuri. Photo Credit: Sally Wright at Flickr.

So far in this post you have come across two food festivals that don’t have any link to Ainu. But this time, you are going to find out a festival performed by Ainu tribe, an indigenous of Hokkaido.

Marimo Matsuri, an annual event takes place on the shores of Lake Akan with the aim of conserving the endangered marimo algae (A designated Special Natural Monument of Japan). It begins with a list of activities performed by Ainu people that include a procession, ceremony of receiving and returning Marimo to the lake, dance completions, fireworks display, and so on.

The event is an ideal place to learn about Ainu rituals and their unique traditions. This is a 3-day festival occurring every year from October 8th to 10th.

That’s it! I hope all these activities are pretty impressive and meaningful to you. Anyway, are you not coming to Hokkaido in October this year?