Top 8 Spots in Hokkaido for Viewing Autumn Leaves

Trees start to turn red for fall by as early as September in Hokkaido. This vast, nature-rich region is filled with so many beautiful spots from where you can marvel at the autumn leaves. Here are eight of the most popular autumn foliage spots in Hokkaido in the order of degree of recommendation.


1. Jozankei

Jozankei is located in a prime spot that is just about an hour’s drive away from Sapporo by car. While it is famous for its hot springs, this area is also a beautiful spot for autumn leaves in the fall as it is covered in gorgeously colored trees. Here, you can walk on the Futami Jozan Road along the mountain stream from the hot spring town, and delight in the richly colored maple, cherry blossom, mountain ash, and other trees.

Foliage season is from late September until mid-October.

2. Sounkyo

Sounkyo is a gorge with a precipitous cliff along the approximately 24km column called “columnar joint," and it is dotted with many autumn foliage viewing spots. Of all these spots, the one that is particularly popular is the Momijidani hiking course that is about a 5-minute walk on the east side of the Sounkyo hot spring resort. After walking along the course for about an hour, you will reach Momijidaki, a cascade of waterfalls flowing on the beautiful valley that will let you enjoy the sight of the violently rolling waters of the falls and the great rocky cliff on the columnar joint, and the vibrant autumn leaves that splendidly color the scene.

Foliage season is from late September until mid-October.

3. Maruyama Park

Maruyama Park, a popular spot for autumn leaves that best represents Sapporo, has become an oasis for locals thanks to its easy access from center of the city. Here, there is a promenade inside the park that is covered by a virgin forest that has been designated as a national natural treasure, where you can enjoy looking at the autumn leaves of Japanese katsura, cherry blossom, painted maple, mountain maple and other trees while walking. There are many piazzas inside the park, so it is also a recommended spot for going on a picnic to relax under the autumn leaves.

Foliage season is from mid-October until late October.

4. Lake Akan

Lake Akan, which is famous for the round green marimo algae, is also popular as a spot for viewing autumn leaves. The southern coast of the lake is surrounded by the pathway called Mori no Komichi where you can stroll for about an hour, and this promenade transforms into a tunnel of beautiful autumn leaves during fall. Go for a walk in this nature-rich area and you just might encounter Hokkaido squirrels, deer, and other creatures along the way. Going around the lake on excursion boats and motorboats is also recommended. If you visit this lake, you will be able to see the colorful view of the magnificent Oakandake mountain.

Foliage season is from early October until mid-October.

5. Lake Shikotsu

Lake Shikotsu, a popular sightseeing destination that you can enjoy on a day trip from Sapporo, boasts of having one of the clearest waters among all the bodies of water in Japan. During fall, the area around the lake is blanketed by the vibrant autumn leaves of ginkgo, painted maple, Japanese linden, mountain ash, mountain maple, and other trees, delighting all who visit. The sight of the autumn leaves against the crystal clear water of the lake is simply magical. It’s so beautiful that you might find yourself wishing to look at it forever.

Foliage season is from late September until mid-October.

6. Ginkgo Avenue at Hokkaido University

Hokkaido University is a popular destination for autumn leaves in Hokkaido. There are numerous autumn foliage spots inside the campus, but the gingko-lined street at Kita 13-jo Street is said to be the most famous spot. The golden tunnel created by the 70 ginkgo trees that are lined up on the approximately 380m stretch of the avenue from east to west is truly a spectacular sight. If the sky is clear, you will witness the breathtaking view of the ginkgo leaves glimmering against the sunlight. So, if you want to get away from the bustle of everyday life and relax, then this is the perfect place for you.

Foliage season is from late October until early November.

6. Ginkgo Avenue at Hokkaido University

7. Shiretoko Goko

Shiretoko Goko, known as one of the eight picturesque places in Shiretoko, is a group of lakes that is surrounded by a virgin forest that gives it a magical kind of beauty. The Shiretoko mountain range behind the lakes has a reputation for its gorgeous silhouette against the lake, but it also offers a stunning vista when autumn sets in. Shiretoko Goko has an elevated wooden walkway and a ground promenade that will allow you to walk around all five lakes. On the elevated walkway, there are three viewing decks where you can fully marvel at the beauty of the autumn leaves set against the waters of the lakes. Foliage season is from late September until early October.

7. Shiretoko Goko

8. Niseko Panorama Line

The area on Prefectural Road 66 that traverses the 42km mountain path between Iwanai and Niseko is called the Niseko Panorama Line. It is an extremely popular spot as it will let you fully enjoy the glorious autumn view while driving. The autumn leaves here are mainly made up of the golden leaves of Erman’s birch trees, with the view of the golden foliage from the Chisenupuri mountain being particularly picturesque. If the weather is nice, you will be able to see the gorgeous Mount Yotei and even the Sea of Japan.

Foliage season is from late September until early October.

Hokkaido is a region blessed with a wealth of nature where you can enjoy the dynamic landscape created by the autumn leaves. Since this region has long winters, so there is only a brief period of time when you can see the autumn leaves. Do not miss that chance if you can!

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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Writer: HITODE 3

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