Autumn Hokkaido Travel Guide

Autumn Leaves in Hokkaido | Japan Fall 2024

In Hokkaido, when the fall season arrives, many visitors embark on a trip to Hokkaido’s best leaf-peeping spots. Are you one of them who are planning a fall foliage trip to Hokkaido this year?

Vividly colored autumn leaves in the region would grab your attention for sure. You will be excited, and more importantly astonished seeing the gorgeous fall colors landscapes throughout the region.

Can you just imagine a view of colorful fall foliage landscape? What you see through your imagination is that deciduous trees put on their dazzling display of colors. How amazing is that! If you are sick of summer already then it is time to welcome the fall season.

Hokkaido University Ginkgo Avenue. Photo Credit: oonnuuoo at Flickr.

Autumn foliage in Hokkaido is incredible just like other parts of Japan. Temperatures begin to drop, green leaves disappear and colorful leaves become visible as if someone has painted the trees marvelously.

No doubt that it’s the cooling off season. As the season ends, people of Hokkaido prepare themselves to survive and welcome the snowy winter.

Traveling to Hokkaido during autumn season must be in your Japan travel bucket list. Hokkaido is blessed with unspoiled nature and home to many different species of birds & animals.

As the fall rolls in to this vast region, many of its national parks, mountain slopes, river banks, gardens, temple grounds, city parks are visited to enjoy momijigari (a tradition of viewing autumn leaves).

Fall season here does not only change leaf colors but offers some delicious seasonal foods to try. You can have some mouth-watering fall dishes originated from different locations within Hokkaido.

Today, I would like to highlight the best time to see fall foliage in Hokkaido, facts, top places to view fall colors, dishes to eat and useful travel tips. I hope you enjoy reading this post.

Japan Autumn Foliage Season Begins Here!

Autumn leaves at Makomanai park in Sapporo. Photo Credit: t-konno at Wikimedia Commons.

People remember Okinawa for number of reasons and one of them is the earliest cherry blossom viewing. Every year Japan’s first cherry blossoms are spotted in this place in early spring.

Likewise the fall foliage season begins its journey in Hokkaido and then it approaches toward Tohoku region, and rest of Japan. Where do you think it ends its journey? That’s in Okinawa!

If you see leaves of a tree turning yellow/red then in mid September then just the time has arrived to visit designated fall foliage spots. Please bear in mind that in Hokkaido, between mid September and late September is the expected time to experience first fall foliage of the year.

Hokkaido’s summer is short, cold is the soul that returns after summer. It is really cold in autumn, so be careful!

What is the best time to see Autumn Leaves in Hokkaido?

Fall foliage in Sapporo – How wonderful! Photo Credit: iyoupapa at Flickr.

As nighttime arrives earlier and the weather turns crisp, nature takes its brush to bring on the color. The way it does is splendid.

If you are willing to discover Hokkaido’s fall foliage then you would have to come here at the correct time. I don’t want you miss a thing that Hokkaido’s offers you.

As usual, here fall foliage is expected to be seen in mid September in Central Hokkaido. Check out the forecast here. According to the forecast, the best time to see colorful fall foliage in Hokkaido is between early October and early November.

If you arrive in Hokkaido on the given time then I must say you nailed it! Now get ready to explore the best fall foliage trips in Hokkaido.

Hokkaido’s Best Places for Fall Foliage

Want to see splendid fall colors of Hokkaido? Are you ready to take some trips across Hokkaido for its gorgeous colors?

My previous fall trips to Hokkaido help me to bring the best places where you can go and view colorful leaves of maple, ginkgo, Japanese larch, Japanese rowan, grasses and etc. Now, let’s go explore them together.

1) Shiretoko:

A wonderful autumn weather in Shiretoko. Photo Credit:

Shiretoko is a paradise for wild animals located on Shiretoko Peninsula in northeastern Hokkaido. It is home to famous Hokkaido’s brown bear, deer, white-tailed eagles, and red fox.

It is considered to be the last unspoiled wilderness remaining in Japan. Shiretoko National Park is my favorite autumn leaves viewing spots.

As I like hiking in wilderness, I prefer the places which are incredible when it comes to hiking during the fall season. It consists of lakes, mountain ranges, forest, and different spices of wild animals.

Here two spots are considered to be the best for hunting autumn foliage: Shiretoko Five Lakes and Shiretoko Pass (a winding road). When you are to discover the Five Lakes (from Lake No. 1 to 5) and its surrounding areas you would be amazed seeing the shimmering hues.

There are nature trails through which one can experience the utmost beauty of fall foliage in this area. While Shiretoko Pass could brings the same feeling as you drive your car through.

The surrounding hilly areas offer the most beautiful scenery that what you could expect from fall season. In 2005, Shiretoko has been designated as UNESCO world heritage site in Japan.

2) Daisetsuzan National Park:

Visit Daisetsuzan National Park if you want to see fall foliage in mid September. Photo Credit: Dimitry B. at Flickr.

Daisetsuzan National Park is located in the center of Hokkaido. This is the largest national park in Hokkaido.

One interesting fact about this park is that this is the first place to see fall foliage each year in Japan. You can discover some well known spots especially for autumn colors.

In mid to late September, when leaves of trees turn yellow and red I can’t wait to hike in the higher elevations around Mount Asahidake and Kogen Onsen for their dazzling display of color.

Sounkyo – a famous hot spring resort town in Daisetsuzan National Park is seen to be a popular autumn leaf viewing spot in Hokkaido. Apart from enjoying colorful leaves there you can have a relax time taking a bath in an onsen. Best time to see outstanding fall color is between early to mid October.

3) Miharashi Park (Kosetsuen):

This is one of the best places in Hokkaido to see autumn leaves. It is a lovely Japanese style garden to stroll along the paths holding the hand of your lover. That would be very romantic when the tree’s leaves change their color from green to yellow/red.

When the sun goes down the stars come out and the garden is illuminated thereafter. The evening view of the fall color in the park creates an impressive autumn scenery.

It is a must-see place in Hakodate during the fall season. The best time to enjoy fall foliage is between late October and mid November.

4) Hokkaido University:

Hokkaido University Ginkgo Avenue in fall season. Photo Credit: at Flickr.

The campus of Hokkaido University is stunning especially in fall season. It has a beautiful ginkgo avenue starches from Kita-jusanjo Gate all the way to Ono Pond. There are about 70-80 lined ginkgo trees stand upright to show their yellowish leaves.

It is pretty marvelous when walking under the trees along the street. Many people including students gather there and enjoy the beauty of autumn colors. The best time to see colors there is between mid-October to early-November.

6) Shikotsu-Toya National Park:

This is mostly known for the Lake Toya, Lake Shikotsu, Jozankei Onsen, and Noboribetsu hot spring resort town. It is located in western part of Hokkaido. These places can be accessed easily from Sapporo, Chitose and Otaru.

Visitors of these places are offered to picturesque views during the autumn season. The peak season of viewing autumn foliage in these places is in mid October. Autumn colors along the ropeway to Mount Usu – is truly awesome.

7) Onuma Park:

Here is another top places to enjoy autumn colors in Hokkaido, it is called Onuma Park, located north of Hakodate.

The park is surrounded by forests, lakes and mountains. The trees that surround the two ponds are pretty beautiful to view in autumn as they change their color.

You can experience a majestic view of the Islands of Onuma and Mount Komagatake in the background. Apart from visiting it in autumn, many people gather here for summer camping.

And riding snowmobile, buggies on top of the ice of the frozen ponds during the winter months is a must thing to do.

7)  Nakajima Park:

Autumn foliage in Nakajima Park, Sapporo. Photo Credit: Hideo at Flickr.

Nakajima Park is located in the middle of downtown Sapporo. Those who are not courageous enough to take the challenge of hunting autumn leaves in wild area should get to this one.

It is specious and a relaxing city park which becomes very beautiful in fall season. Many people who are living nearby visit this park very often all year round.

The park grounds is filled with lawns and many trees (about 5000) including cherry, Japanese elms, ginkgo, maple and other trees which names are unknown to me. You can take a stroll around the lake and feel the atmosphere of autumn colors.

I have excluded some other popular autumn foliage spots in Hokkaido; I hope I will come back again with a full package which would reveal all the great spots including my own personal stories behind them.

Experiencing Hokkaido’s Autumn Colors through Hiking

Autumn leaves in Midorigaoka Park, Obihiro. Photo Credit: satoshi sawada at Flickr.

I am not sure about the exact amount of hiking trails that Hokkaido has throughout its region but there are many to make you speechless.

When you are stressed enough and you are looking for some ideas to get rid of it, I highly recommend you to go on a hike. And hiking in Hokkaido would be just an exceptional unforgettable experience.

Summer and autumn is the best time for hiking in Japan. In my opinion, autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.

To see flowers (red/yellow leaf) one must get out and discover your own through hiking. The national parks located across Hokkaido provide world class hiking trials for amateur and veteran hikers. It is not advisable to hike alone.

I have never tried to go on a hike alone in the past because I know how difficult it could be. Form a group of 3 to 5 members with all the necessary hiking accessories.

If everything is well set up, then set off your journey. Follow the designated nature trails and they would lead you to the scenic spots for experiencing splendid fall colors.

Fall Foods to try in Hokkaido

Autumn fish – Sanma dish! Photo Credit: shirokazan at Flickr.

Leaving a specific place without having its local specialties is kind of being a foolish. I don’t think I am foodie like others. Though, I try to taste the most famous ones that originate from a region in which I travel.

Hokkaido is an island in which fishing industry is the pretty strong and solid. It supplies sea foods to other parts of Japan and aboard. You must eat fresh sushi and crabs including Hokkaido’s local wines.

When it comes to taking about the best fall foods you should try in Hokkaido then I would definitely tell you to try Oden, Sanma (grilled pacific saury), yakiimo, shinmai, apples and nabemono.

These foods are consumed across Japan when autumn season arrives. Therefore, don’t ever try to leave Hokkaido unless you taste these.

Autumn Travel Tips to Hokkaido

To be honest with you the seasons – spring and autumn attract less visitors to Hokkaido in comparison with summer and winter. Though, I believe Hokkaido is a four season’s destination to travel to.

Being a less popular destination during autumn months, not many visitors outside Japan visit it. As a result it is very easy to book hotel rooms upon arrival. You don’t need to think of reserving rooms earlier though the early the better.

Earlier in this article I told you that in Hokkaido, it is cold during autumn. Therefore, I suggest you to wear a light jacket. I hope this protects you from the cold weather. If you are going to go for a hiking tour, you better get all the necessary hiking accessories.

Don’t forget a thing which can be useful to you regarding this tour. While walking along the trails make sure that you don’t disturb the wild animals you see there.

Let them roam around on their own. Use the best high quality camera lens to photograph the autumn nature landscape including animals spotted in a far distance.

Awesome fall foliage display in Sapporo. Photo Credit: MIKI Yoshihito at Flickr.

What’s the best possible way of accessing one place to others in Hokkaido? Traveling around Hokkaido especially the mentioned autumn leaves viewing spots is easy by car. You can get a car renting it either from Nissan or Toyota.

Apart from this, you can buy Hokkaido Rail Pass or Japan Rail Pass to minimize the cost of transportation in terms of long distance travel that allows you to ride all the JR Hokkaido Trains.

Try eating famous sea foods of Hokkaido. In addition, there are foods which are popular especially for fall season.

Buy a Japanese phrase book in case you face some trouble related to communication. In Hokkaido, people don’t speak much in English. So, you have to have a Japanese phrase book and learn some.

Hokkaido Autumn Leaves Season 2024

Odori Park’s fall foliage, and Sapporo TV Tower. Photo Credit: oonnuuoo at Flickr.

Are you well inspired reading this article and viewing the photographs I have uploaded here for you? I don’t find any reason to say “I am Not inspired”. Listen to me please; one of my intentions of writing articles based on Hokkaido is to inspiring more foreign visitors.

I always try my best to make you fall in love with Hokkaido. Summer ends, autumn comes, and you come to Hokkaido to be stress free for a few days. Making a trip to Hokkaido is not a difficult goal to attain.

I have shared the places which sparkle and shine in the fall including travel tips to make your trip a great adventure. Do you still think that you have some doubt in your mind?

Experiencing a fall season in Hokkaido won’t just let you discover the beauty of wilderness instead it would help you to get to know the traditions locals follow. Outstanding autumn views of Hokkaido can not disappoint you. Come and attach your soul with unspoiled Hokkaido’s nature.

I am sure you could spend days exploring the stunning colorful forested valleys, mountain slopes, peaks, and lakes. Thanks for reading.