[2018 Edition] 3 Must-Visit Spots in Hokkaido for Fall Foliage in October
Many people say that the best time to view fall foliage in Japan is from early October all the way to the end of December. However, this is actually a rough estimate: In reality, it differs by region due to different plant species and climates. We've decided to create the ultimate guide to the best autumn foliage viewing spots in Japan, separated by area and month, for the year of 2018. This is part 2 out of 5, focusing on the massive island prefecture of Hokkaido, full of expansive nature and a unique culture. Keep reading to find out more!
Oct 12 2018 (Sep 09 2020)
Fall Foliage in Japan
The act of viewing autumn leaves is called "momiji-gari" in Japanese. You can find places all over Japan that are famous for their beautiful autumn foliage, including easily-accessible places like city parks and temples to more remote locations like mountain peaks and deep forests. In other words, there should be a spot to satisfy everyone!
The above picture is a forecast map for Japan's fall foliage in 2018. If you're interested in practicing momiji-gari, you need to acquire a good, accurate forecast map. We've done our research, but please keep in mind that the dates are ultimately estimates.
Admire the Golden Leaves in Hokkaido this October
Take in the Scenery at Jozankei Onsen - Hokkaido's #1 Spot for Fall Foliage
Jozankei is the name of a quiet onsen (hot spring) town just down Toyohira River, not too far from the giant city of Sapporo. The fall colors here are so vibrant that this area is considered by many to be the #1 spot for momiji-gari in all of Hokkaido!
If you want to see its beauty up-close, go on one of the walking trails that go along the mountain stream. There is also the Koyo Kappa Bus Tour that runs each year from October 1st to 21st, in which local volunteer guides lead bus tours around the best fall foliage views within the area.
Also, as this is a hot spring town, there are a variety of places to relax and take a hot bath after a long day of walking around the various fall foliage spots.
Before you get rid of the day's exhaustion in an onsen, take a look at the etiquette guide in the article below.
Go for a Boat Ride Around the Golden Island in Lake Toya
The lake shore of Toya-ko (Lake Toya) is a beautiful onsen area with views of Showa-shinzan and Mt. Usu in the background. In the autumn, the beautiful colors of the local flora look especially gorgeous when contrasted against the bright blue water of the lake.
There are sightseeing boats that can be taken around the central island, which is a rather unique experience when it comes to viewing fall foliage in Japan. Be sure to wear a jacket though, as the temperature can get quite low!
The shore area is also equipped with a park, various playgrounds for children, and, of course, hot springs! (This is an onsen area, after all.)
Hokkaido is actually home to several other stunning lakes that are worth viewing. Don't believe us? Take a look at the shots in the article below!
Enjoy Views of the Foliage and the City Together at the Mt. Moiwa Ropeway in Sapporo
Mt. Moiwa is most known for its spectacular night views, which are among the top three night views in all of Japan. However, when the whole mountain changes color in the fall, the day views are just as good, if not better!
It's truly a stunning sight to see the red and gold fall colors of the mountain contrasted with the steel, brick, and glass of the sprawling city of Sapporo below.
This is a great option for Sapporo visitors who want to see fall foliage without having to travel too far away. However, for those who do have a bit more time on their hands, it's recommended to go up during the day and then stay until after sunset, so you can see both the day view and the night view in one trip!
If you make it back in time for lunch or dinner, consider trying out some of the delicious local food that Hokkaido has to offer. The article below provides some ideas!
As you can see, Hokkaido is full of gorgeous nature, especially during momiji-gari season. Some of the best spots are a bit far away, but their beauty makes them well worth the trek. If you're in the middle of planning your Japan autumn-leaf viewing itinerary for October, refer to this article and all of our upcoming articles in this series!
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.