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.

Incredible early autumn colors at Jozankei Onsen area. Photo Credit: Jozankei Tourist Association.

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 2019 Hokkaido Autumn Itinerary for 7 Days

Autumn fallen leaves in Hokkaido. Photo Credit: motokichi at Flickr.

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.

Day 1 – Chitose to Asahikawa

Ana Airways at Sapporo New Chitose Airport, Hokkaido. Photo Credit: Alec Wilson at Flickr.

Welcome to Hokkaido! Hop on a train from New Chitose Airport Station to Asahikawa Station with one transfer at JR Sapporo Station. I don’t know when you land at 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 at New Chitose Airport. I hope you will reach Asahikawa before afternoon. In Asahikawa, check in to the hotel you have booked online. Have some rest and take your lunch.

The best hotel located near JR Asahikawa Station is JR Inn Asahikawa.

Asahikawa Ramen Dish. Photo Credit: ★Kumiko★ at Flickr.

There are many restaurants nearby the station in Asahikawa. Find one to taste the famous Asahikawa ramen. It’s super delicious and a bowl of ramen will not be satisfying to you, you will want to have some more.

Sleep tight and don’t forget to wake up early in the morning tomorrow.

Day 2 – Asahikawa to Asahidake Onsen

Mount Asahidake in Autumn. Photo Credit: Bareru at Flickr.

Today, you go on a hike in the woods to enjoy the fall colors and view the magnificent Mount Asahidake summit in the Daisetsuzan National Park. Take a 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 spring resort and one of the bases in the area to explore the National Park.

The main thing for why actually you would 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 city in the evening.

Day 3 – Asahikawa to Sounkyo Onsen

Sounkyo Onsen, surrounded by forested valley. Photo Credit: Rob at Flickr.

Sounkyo is one of the must-see places in the Daisetsuzan National Park, especially in the fall! You can reach Sounkyo Onsen from Asahikawa Station by direct buses. The surrounding forested valleys of Mount Kurodake look pretty shiny and colorful with surrounding deciduous trees.

You can experience gorgeous fall color display 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 upper station. 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.

Day 4 – Asahikawa to Nakafurano

The surrounding landscape of the guesthouse, pretty beautiful!

It is time for experiencing a farmstay in Furano! I recommend you to 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 great! From the guesthouse you can visit some attractions such as the Farm Tomita, the Furano Cheese Factory and the Furano Winery.

Attention please! Biei is a lovely town where you can find a tranquil place to enjoy the autumn weather. The place is called Blue Pond. The surrounding areas of the pond look pretty gorgeous in the autumn. Besides, a visit to Shirahige Waterfall will be an experience of a lifetime, located close to Yumoto Shirogane-Onsen Hotel.

If you want to explore other sightseeing spots of Furano, you can spend one more day there. It’s up to you, so plan accordingly!

Day 5 – Furano to Sapporo

Sapporo Autumn Fest. Photo Credit: Sapporo Tourist Association.

Furano->Takikawa->Sapporo” – this is the route on the way to Sapporo Station from Furano Station by train. Alternatively, you can take direct highway buses to Sapporo. Try to get on a train in the morning, and I hope you will be in Sapporo before 12:00 pm.

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.

Odori Park, Sapporo. Photo Credit: Michael at Flickr.

Then Have some rest or take a nap if you want. In the evening, you take a walk to Odori Park. It would be great if you could participate in the Sapporo Autumn Fest. This food festival takes place in Odori Park from early September. Don’t you worry if you miss this food festival.

There 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.

You can also spend your evening in Susukino, a popular entertainment district that is packed with bars, restaurants, pubs, karaoke shops, and so on. One of the main highlight of Susukino is Ramen Yokocho, a narrow lined with noodle shops, and you will find a variety of ramen dishes there.

Stay overnight in Sapporo.

Day 6 – Sapporo to Jozankei Onsen

This is absolutely breathtaking autumn scenery, Jozankei Onsen. Photo Credit: Jozankei Tourist Association.

The best hot spring resort town adjacent to Sapporo is 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 my experience, it is a historic hot spring resort in the Hokkaido region 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 comprises 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.

Day 7 – Explore Downtown Sapporo

Hokkaido University’s Ginkgo Avenue, Sapporo. Photo Credit: at Flickr.

It is the final day here in Sapporo before you leave for your home country tomorrow morning. If you want, 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 expect to see gorgeous fall colors 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, Hokkaido Shrine, 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 the next morning. Goodbye! If you don’t know how to spend a day in Sapporo then please take a look at this suggested itinerary.

Tanuki Koji Shopping Street, Sapporo. Photo Credit: bryan… at Flickr.

The places I have chosen for you to stay overnight are all family friendly. Bring a light jacket here because it gets cold in autumn. Buy a-7 day Japan Rail Pass/Hokkaido Rail Pass to use all the JR trains and buses operated by JR Group. 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? I can’t tell that it is not famous for viewing fall foliage, but visiting it on a shiny autumn day would be a remarkable experience.You should head to Usuzan Ropeway and enjoy the surroundings from a gondola cable car. A panoramic view of Lake Toya from Usuzan Ropeway Observatory is spectacular!

You can add one more day to this travel plan and make it happen right away. Alternatively, forget about visiting Sounkyo Onsen and save the day for 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 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 the Akan National Park. Thank you.