With the earliest fall foliage spots, Hokkaido is one of the best places to visit in Japan in September. Those leaf-peeping spots are located in Daisetsuzan National Park, where famous Hokkaido brown (grizzly) bears live in the wild. If you intend to enjoy nature and wildlife in Hokkaido, Daisetsuzan National Park (Taisetsuzan) is the perfect place to go.

Every autumn, the park attracts lots of hikers and trekkers as it is home to some of the world’s most scenic hiking routes. There are several well-marked trails for hiking through spectacular scenery and on the journey you can observe plenty of wildlife. Whether you get the opportunity to see brown bear or not, the main highlight of your trip should be the fall foliage.

Fall in the area sweeps in with a burst of color. Autumn vistas and views are breathtaking at every turn within the park. There, you can expect autumn to be vibrant, with red, orange, purple and yellow leaves as the area boats abundance of trees and bushes that change color.

This 7-day itinerary is best for people who are willing to explore nature in Central Hokkaido. Moreover, this itinerary can also work for those who intend to spend few days in Sapporo and go for sightseeing on the outskirts of the city.

Here you can find the best places to see autumn leaves in Hokkaido, Japan.

Day 1 – New Chitose Airport to Sapporo

Hokkaido Shrine, Sapporo. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

If you are flying overnight to get to Sapporo, you can easily reach Biei at noon by train from New Chitose Airport Station. Unfortunately, you are not going to do that today instead you will stay a few days in Sapporo before heading towards central Hokkaido.

Arriving in Sapporo from the airport either by bus or train in the morning gives you a lot of time to explore city’s some interesting attractions. Odori Park, located in the center of Sapporo is where locals and tourists alike like to relax. With many benches and green spaces to sit and relax, you can enjoy a pleasant walk along the park. Indeed the park is a great place to start a trip to Sapporo!

Some of you may think of going up to Sapporo TV tower’s observatory, which will give you a good view of Odori Park and mountains in the distance. In order to enjoy great views of the city of Sapporo, this place is good but not great as compared to Mount Moiwa observatory or JR Tower Observation Deck T38.

Within short walk from the tower is Sapporo Clock Tower. Surrounded by modern building, this museum is said to be the symbol of Sapporo. If you are looking forward to seeing some historical structures in the city, you have got to visit there.

Mount Moiwa Ropeway, Sapporo. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

It’s time to get back to nature! I will not be surprised if you plan on visiting Hokkaido Shrine afterwards. The shrine itself is part of Maruyama Koen (Park), a place of wonder, where nobody would be disappointed of exploring. The walkway to the shrine compound is absolutely amusing as you will be greeted by a giant torii gate. You should walk around Maruyama Park and find some space there to relax and enjoy outdoor nature.

The park is a 5-minute walk from Maruyama Koen Station on the Subway Tozai Line.

Your next stop is Mount Moiwa. You go there in the evening, so taking a nap in your hotel room will be a good decision. Usually Mount Moiwa Ropeway is a must-see destination for tourists visiting Sapporo city anytime of the year. Enjoy incredible night views from its top observation platform before you get to Susukino. This red-light district in Sapporo has a lot of restaurants, bars, karaoke shops and stores. The Ramen Yokocho of Susukino features ramen shops, where you can taste bowls of different kinds of delicious ramen.

You can stay overnights at the following hotels in Sapporo city.

1. Sapporo Grand Hotel
2. Hotel MYSTAYS Sapporo Aspen
3. Nest Hotel Sapporo Ekimae

Day 2: A day trip to Otaru

Otaru Canal. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Nearly everyone who visits Sapporo will find their perfect attractions and adventures in this port city that are truly inspiring. Otaru is just about half an hour train ride from Sapporo Station. From Otaru station, you can take a walk to one of its iconic landmarks called Otaru Canal. It’s really wonderful to walk along the canal, which is lined by old warehouses. They are pretty nice structures to be overwhelmed by!

From here, you need to visit the Otaru Music Box Museum, a popular antique museum where you can see a lot of beautiful music boxes. Keep in mind that this interesting landmark is home to over 25,000 music boxes! So, finding some unique souvenirs here will not be a daunting task for you, will it be?

The view of Otaru city and Ishikari Bay from the summit of Mount Tengu. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Your day trip to Otaru from Sapporo should be ended with a visit to Mount Tengu (Tenguyama). This place must be part of your Hokkaido itinerary. As a tourist you cannot say “No” whenever you come to Otaru. This attraction is a top-notch in Otaru.

You should spend rest of your time here in Otaru up at Mount Tengu before leaving for Sapporo in the evening. From the cable car and one of its five scenic observatories, the view over Otaru city and Ishikari Bay is just majestic. There are many things you can experience at the top of the mountain. You can eat foods at the restaurants you find there and take a lot of photographs of the beautiful surroundings when walking along the trails.

The Otaru Mt. Tengu Ropeway is a 20 minute bus ride from JR Otaru Station.

What to do when you get back to Sapporo in the evening?

If you want to taste a variety of Hokkaido’s best food, be sure to head over to Odori Park. The Sapporo Autumn Fest is held here in early September to late September every year. Indulge this autumn with the best food festivals you experience in downtown Sapporo.

Day 3: Sapporo to Biei

Autumn leaves and blue pond of Biei. Photo Credit: Biei Tourist Association.

The fastest way to get to Biei from Sapporo is by train via Asahikawa station. The one way ride will take more than a two hour. You can stay at Yumoto Shirogane Onsen Hotel. From the property, getting to Shirahige Waterfalls and Shirogane Blue Pond is not daunting. In fact, you can explore these two iconic attractions today after checking into the hotel.

You can even get to the observatory of Mount Tokachi from where panoramic views of the Mt.Tokachi range can be enjoyed along with surrounding fall foliage.

Let me tell you something about Biei now!

Biei is a lovely hilly town surrounded by beautiful landscapes. Famous for viewing Mount Tokachi range, Biei is one of the top tourist destinations in Hokkaido that is worth exploring year-round. Many adventure seekers like hikers and trekkers prefer staying in the town of Biei. Please note autumn is the perfect time for hiking in the area.

Day 4: Mt. Asahidake Ropeway and Shikisai no Oka

Mount Asahidake during autumn. Photo Credit: WAKASARESORT Co., Ltd.

Mount Asahidake is the natural wonder and highest peak of the Daisetsuzan National Park located in the middle of Hokkaido- and a great place to jump in the fall foliage. For an exceptional autumn experience, be sure to come here from mid September to late September. The scenery that is seen in the fall is truly gorgeous.

Visiting Mt. Asahidake’s upper ropeway station is one of Hokkaido’s must-visit destinations in September for locals and visitors alike. If you are looking for things to do in Biei in September, a hike in Mount Asahidake is a definite must.

Most of the visitors who reach the ropeway’s upper station can easily enjoy an hour by walking around the circular trail (a popular and easy hiking trail). When you walk along the trail you will come across a number of designated observatories to enjoy the views of the beautiful surroundings such as the summit of Asahdake, colored bushes, shrubs and grasses.

Flower gardens of Shikisai no Oka, Biei. Photo Credit: SHIKISAINOOKA.

Weather at the upper ropeway station can change rapidly, so it is highly recommended to bring the right equipment for a comfortable and safe hike. Don’t be surprised if you don’t see the Daizetsuzan mountain range because of heavy fog.

Visit the official website of Mount Asahidake Ropeway to see the fare of ropeway, access info from Biei and other useful guides for tourists.

If you think that you want to see something pleasant and eye-catching in Biei, then pay a visit to Shikisai no Oka. The panoramic flower gardens of Shikisai no Oka provides spectacular views and here an evening stroll would be just a perfect way to call it a day for you. September is still a great time to visit the place, so why don’t you go there?

Day 5: Flower Land Kamifurano, Hinode Park and Farm Tomita

There are still lots of flowers to see at Flower Land Kamifurano in autumn. Photo Credit: フラワーランドかみふらの.

Your day 5 in Hokkaido will be exciting if you split the day between Flower Land Kamifurano, Hinode Park, and Farm Tomita – three of Central Hokkaido’s most popular flower farms. To make your trip hassle free, we recommend you to rent a car. Visit here to do so.

Before you set off your journey for the day, I want you to check out the distances of each three flower farms on Google Maps. Plan yourself about how much time you want to spend for each location.

These three flower farms will not feature lavender in September but there are other varieties of autumn flowers to be seen. You won’t regret visiting each spot and taking a lot of photos of scenic views.

When you are in Farm Tomita, don’t forget to pay a visit to Tomita Melon House. Taste some slices of famous Yubari melon. You can also have ice-creams and snacks!

You should reach Sounkyo Onsen before nightfall. Stay overnight at Choyo Resort Hotel.

Day 6: Sounkyo Onsen

An autumn landscape of Daisetsuzan National Park, Hokkaido. Photo Credit: WAKASARESORT Co., Ltd.

This hot spring resort town in the north of Daisetsuzan National Park is one of the best destinations to visit in autumn in Hokkaido. Those who come to Furano and Biei in the summer miss the majestic views it provides in the fall. So, if you are lucky enough to be able to explore central Hokkaido at any time of the year, autumn is really the perfect season.

Start the morning with a visit to the Kurodake Ropeway. With the ropeway, visitors can easily access into the higher elevation of the national park. Then take the chairlift to the trailhead to Mount Kurodake. The view of the surrounding mountains from the summit of Mount Kurodake is spectacular with brilliant autumn colors.

Ginga no Taki and Ryusei no Taki Waterfalls. Photo Credit: Tourism Association of Sounkyo.

Get down at the onsen town and head back to your hotel and enjoy a hot spring bath there. After taking your lunch, take a rest for a while before you set off a journey to some nearby attractions. Your visit to Sounkyo will not be complete without visiting two beautiful waterfalls, Ginga no Taki and Ryusei no Taki. For unique view of the changing fall colors and waterfalls, these two iconic attractions should be included in your itinerary.

Day 7: Asahiyama Zoo and Sapporo

A polar bear at Asahiyama Zoo, Asahikawa. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Hokkaido’s Asahiyama zoo is one of the best zoos in Japan. On the way back to Sapporo city from Sounkyo Onsen, I highly recommend you to pay a visit to this zoo. Discover the zoo for an unforgettable experience and explore the animals and birds it showcases for the visitors. Your little ones would definitely love to be there for a long time.

When you reach Sapporo, I can recommend you a hotel that has natural an onsen, located nearby Odori Park. Check in here at La’gent Stay Sapporo Odori.

Your visit to Hokkaido won’t be complete without getting some shopping done. So explore some shopping malls in the city and buy some souvenirs to bring home. When you go to JR Tower for shopping, alongside buying things from the store I would suggest you to go up to the observation deck T38, located 160 meters above ground and enjoy great night views.