Five Picturesque Spots in Hokkaido to Enjoy the Autumn Foliage
Hokkaido is known as the prefecture in Japan where autumn makes its earliest arrival each year. Thus, it is no surprise that it abounds with magnificent natural scenery hard to find on the mainland. We have selected five such locations in Hokkaido where you can take in the beauty of the autumn foliage.
I live in Sapporo City, Hokkaido. I love to eat out. I am especially attracted by cafes with a retro feel and historical buildings.
1. Daisetsuzan National Park
Out of anywhere else in Japan, autumn is said to arrive earliest at Daisetsuzan National Park. This means you’ll also be able to see the autumn foliage here first. Located in the center of Hokkaido, Daisetsuzan is not the name of a mountain, but rather the tallest mountain range in the prefecture. (Famous peaks include Mt. Asahi-dake, Mt. Kuro-dake, and Mt, Aka-dake)
Mt. Asahi-dake, the highest peak of Daisetsuzan, can be ascended by ropeway. The scenic view from the summit is simply breathtaking. Rowan trees, Japanese maples, grape trees, and birch trees thrive there, and the reddening leaves gradually spread towards the foot of the mountain over the course of a month.
2. Sounkyo Gorge
Sounkyo is located on the northern side of the Daisetsuzan mountain range. Its highest point is Ginsendai, a popular scenic spot accessible by car. You won’t be able to take your eyes off of the vista of mountains and autumnal leaves that unfold from 1,500 meters above sea level.
The area is also home to Ryusei no Taki and Ginga no Taki Falls, two waterfalls listed among “Japan’s 100 Best Waterfalls.” A 20-minute climb up a slope will also lead you to Sobaku Dai, an observation deck from which you can see both waterfalls.
3. Lake Shuparo
Lake Shuparo is an artificial lake that was formed upon the construction of the Oyubari Dam. Along with the Sangen-kyo Bridge over the lake, it is designated as one of Yubari City’s cultural properties. The bridge takes on a different appearance depending on where you view it from, and the juxtaposition of the bridge and the scenery is stunning. The harmony of nature and artificial structures allows you to simultaneously feel the grandeur of nature and advanced human technology. It’s a must-visit spot during the fall season when the trees reflect beautifully upon the lake’s surface.
4. Chidoriga-taki Falls in Takinoue Park
Also known as “Yubari Falls,” Yubari City’s Chidoriga-taki Falls is a group of big and small waterfalls that create one large waterfall. The view of the waterfalls and autumn foliage from Chidori-bashi Bridge is mesmerizing.
The Ainu are said to have inhabited this area since ancient times. The area is also known as “Kamuikotan,” a dwelling of the gods.
5. Lake Notoro
Facing the Sea of Okhotsk is Lake Notoro, where coral grass grows crimson in the lakeside marshland. It presents a vibrant view of the red coral grass under a clear blue sky. There is a promenade that allows you to walk mid-way into the coral grass expanding over the wetlands. You might look up to see the autumn foliage, but this lake is known as the “Red Carpet,” where the red leaves cover the water’s surface. The sight creates an enchanting atmosphere amidst the vastness of the lake.
In closing:In Japan, autumn is known as the season to enjoy food and art, but the natural scenery it brings is second to none. Hokkaido is a treasure trove of breathtaking panoramas, said to be the product of the nature-loving spirit of Hokkaido people since ancient times. From the mountains to the lakes, the lush nature is mesmerizing and often rare compared to what we see on the mainland. Whenever you’re in Hokkaido, be sure to take in the natural scenery so well preserved by the local people.
*The information herein is as of September 2021.