Autumn Hokkaido Travel Guide

6 Best Places to See Autumn Leaves in Sapporo

Autumn is a great time to plan a trip to Sapporo to explore its fantastic views of cascading colors. Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido, is one of Japan’s top year-round destinations. Whether it is winter, spring, summer or fall, here it will never disappoint you.

Very often, wherever you head towards any sightseeing spots located across the region, Sapporo acts as a base. So, even if you intend to discover the areas in eastern Hokkaido, for example, Shiretoko Peninsula – to see the changing color of autumn leaves, you have got to come here. The days and times you spend in Sapporo should not be wasted, so what do you think of exploring its gorgeous fall foliage spots?

Sapporo’s Maple leaves! Photo Credit: Tyler Black at Flickr.

One can easily experience the autumn leaves when visiting the city from mid October to early November. To admire the autumn beauty in the city, you don’t require a scenic fall foliage road trip adventure. It has a list of great places to see fall colors that can be enjoyed on foot.

A leisurely walk in Nakajima Park or Ginkgo Avenue of Hokkaido University probes it. You really don’t need a car, just use your legs and eyes and ultimately you would make a great autumn adventure. Let’s go find some awesome landmarks where leaves change color stunningly.

1) Nakajima Park

Does this autumn picture inspire you visiting the park this autumn? Photo Credit: Hideo at Flickr.

Tagged as one of the 100 best urban parks in Japan, Nakajima is a place of scenic beauty. It located in the center of downtown Sapporo.

Maple and other deciduous trees in the park that are deep green trees in summer turn colors in autumn and before snowfall touches the grounds it leaves everyone speechless showcasing a great display of stunning fall color.

I appreciate the atmosphere how wonderfully it decorates the whole park during the time of changing leaf color.

How cool is that! Photo Credit: Stuart Rankin at Flickr.

Guests are invited to walk around, no doubt! That’s surly the best way to enjoy the beautiful surroundings it offers throughout the year. Tranquil walking paths in the park do seem to me a great way to enjoy the fall foliage.

Inside the park, there is a lovely pond known as Shobu pond. It looks spectacular as you sit on one of the park beaches nearby and witness the reflection of fall colors on the surface of the water.

If you are interested in a row boat adventure, rent one! That would be an awesome experience for sure.

This 21 hectare area contains not only the trees of different kinds, but also a shrine, walkways, tea house, Japanese garden, theater, sculptures, and others. Fall colors in Nakajima Park are at their brightest in mid October through early November.

2) Hokkaido University

Hokkaido University’s Ginkgo Avenue! Photo Credit: Takeshi Kawai at Flickr.

The teachers, students, and official staffs of Hokkaido University including locals are very proud of the beautiful scenery it highlights in the fall.

With a lot of open spaces, and walkways, the university campus is place not to be missed during your visit to Sapporo.

And the most exciting part of it is the Ginkgo Tree Avenue (about 380 meters long and lined with 70 ginkgo trees on each side). Late October to early November is the best time to view fall color there.

Take a walk along the ginkgo avenue to enjoy the natural glory of the ginkgo trees turning shades of gold, and yellow.

Please note this gorgeous fall foliage spot is arguably one of the best in Hokkaido. It deserves to be so, in fact, a lot of tourists and locals alike come here to enjoy the tranquil atmosphere in autumn.

In addition, if you have enough time, don’t forget to visit the Hokkaido University Museum, the Elm Forest, and Botanical Garden.

There you would find many interesting things to be overwhelmed. Finally, the colors you explore there is absolutely breathtaking, never miss visiting this place, bear in mind that!

3) Jozankei Onsen

Jozankei Onsen during the fall. Photo Credit: Jozankei Hot Springs Tourism Association.

Jozankei Onsen, part of Shikotsu-Toya National Park, is one of the most famous Sapporo destinations for nature enthusiasts, offering endless things to discover year round, though autumn here is particularly breathtaking.

The area hosts many annual events and festivals where fun and interesting things can be found to charm your life!

With a lot of public foot baths, open-air baths, surrounding beautiful scenery, easy access from Sapporo (an hour bus ride), and other sightseeing spots such as Nishikibashi Bridge, Toyohira River, and Hoheikyo dam located nearby, Jozankei is simply a great hot spring resort town in Sapporo.

The hot springs resort town’s nearby autumn scenery is stunning majestic! Photo Credit: Jozankei Hot Springs Tourism Association.

In search of vibrant shades, head toward this hot spring resort to take in fall’s best offerings. I can imagine that your visit to this hot spring resort town would be surprising not only in the fall, but other season as well. If you get the chance don’t forget to visit it.

When you arrive in Jozankei, you find that peaceful tranquility flows throughout the area. Incredible surrounding autumn vistas make the area very awe-inspiring; and you would actually love to see the way it looks.

There are plenty of other things to do and see that your whole family will love. Leaf-peeing season here usually starts in mid October and can be enjoyed till early November.

4) Mount Moiwa

To the summit of Mt. Moiwa using the Ropeway. Photo Credit: Mt. Moiwa Ropeway Offical Facebook Page.

Mount Moiwa is one of the top sightseeing attractions in Sapporo. The mountain overlooks Sapporo city, Ishikari Bay and the mountain range in the distance.

It’s very famous for offering a magnificent night view of the city. With a restaurant at the top of the summit, one can have lovely a dinner while enjoying the stunning surrounding views.

The leaf changing season can be observed through hiking. That’s why often outdoor enthusiasts don’t dare ascending the mountain. They want to enjoy an incredible view over the city including the primeval forest that ablaze with color in autumn.

The hiking trails to the top of the mountain are not as difficult as you might think. Before you start off, make sure you take a good look at the map.

Throughout your journey you will pass through a vibrant green forest in summer and vibrant colors in the fall.

Hike up the mountain through the trails is not only the possible way; instead you can take the Ropeway and the cable cars to reach the top of the summit.

The journey is incredible and overwhelming at the same time, especially when the mountain offers vibrant fall foliage and reaches its peak.

5) Maruyama Park

Autumn colors at Maruyama Park. Photo Credit: Stuart Rankin at Flickr.

Home to different species of plants and animals, Maruyama is a must-see destination in downtown Sapporo. It is said to be one of the most popular cherry blossom viewing spots in the city.

Is it worth a visit during the autumn then? If you take a trip to this wonderful park, you would experience a gorgeous fall foliage adventure.

In the park, trees like Japanese elms, maple, katsura and other deciduous plants display the vivid fall colors breathtakingly. Seriously, to get a glimpse at golden leaves here, I would highly recommend you planning your trip from mid October through late October.

Autumn leaves at Odori Park, Sapporo. Photo Credit: humbletree at Flickr.

Inside the park, you find the famous Hokkaido Shrine, a Shinto shrine and sacred place to pray for good fortune. Besides, there you can see some wild animals at the Maruyama Zoo, which is located adjacent to the park.

It also features a mind-blowing virgin forest on its spacious grounds, which in fact, is a designated natural treasure. That’s so welcoming and relaxing! There you will find a beautiful trail to explore the forest.

Always remember, a leaf-peeing trip to Sapporo is not complete without a visit to Maruyama Park. I have to admit, it is a delightful place to walk around! Indeed, you cannot miss a relaxing walk along the walkways to explore the gorgeous colors.

6) Makomanai Park

Makomanai park during autumn. Photo Credit: t-konno at Wikimedia Commons.

Makomanai Park’s fall foliage display here is pretty inspiring! When it comes to travel, you always think of visiting a place that is nice and worth the visit. The above autumn leaves spots in this post are popular places to behold, and this one is no different!

The 1972 Sapporo Winter Olympic was held in the park. It was used as a main venue for the event. This is where you will find the famous Makomanai Sekisui Heim Ice Arena. This is an indoor ice skating arena, where various kinds of sporting events are held year round. 

Cross country skiing is a quite popular outdoor activity here in winter. Before winter arrive, the area is actually visited by many people who like hunting momiji (autumn leaves).

Do you want to pay a visit to this park? Makomanai Park is about a 25 minute walk from Makomanai Station on the Subway Namboku Line.

That’s it! If you want to visit one more place to see fall foliage in Sapporo, that would be Odori Park or Takino Suzuran National Park, maybe both! Get there and have fun!

Learn more about Hokkaido’s fall colors and of course read this special Japan autumn travel guide before you visit Sapporo. Thanks for reading.

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