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Best places to view autumn leaves in Hokkaido ~vol.1~

【The Five Great Views of Autumn Foliage at Jozankei】

The Jozankei area is a popular sightseeing spot known for its beautiful fall foliage. Travelers can see the colors from the end of September to mid-October. Jozankei offers not one, but five unique spots to view autumn foliage — these are known as the “Five Great Autumn Foliage” spots.

  1. The first spot is Jozankei Onsen Area. You can see the vividly colored scenery from the Futami Suspension Bridge, a red bridge.
  2. Hoheikyo Dam is the most popular of the five sightseeing spots among international travelers-seeing the wilderness and grandeur of the dam is a must.
  3. At Sapporo International Ski Resort, you can ride the gondola even in the autumn for a different view than if you were to climb using the stairs. At the top, climbers can view Ishikari Bay.
  4. Surround yourself in flowers and trees of the Orchard Garden at Jozankei Farm, where you can participate in a great variety of activities. You can also enjoy a 360-degree view of the fall foliage from the viewing terrace.
  5. Mount Hakken rises 498 meters above sea level. Climb to the top to see the beautiful autumn colors and stop by one of the riding clubs or orchards to make the most of the landscape.

All these sightseeing spots are accessible via a shuttle bus from the Jozankei Tourist Information Center for utmost convenience. In addition to fall foliage, don’t forget to check out the Fall Colors Festival and the Jozankei Nature Luminaire illumination!


■Jozankei Tourist Information Center Access:
From Sapporo or Makomanai stations, take the bus bound for Jozankei Onsen or Hoheikyo Onsen until Jozankei Jinja-mae bus terminal. From there, walk 2 minutes.

■Address 3-225 Jozankei Onsen Higashi, Minami-ku, Sapporo City, Hokkaido 061-2302

■Business Hours: 9:00-17:00

■Spot introduction:
https://en.visit-hokkaido.jp/what-to-do/jozankei-onsen


【Daisetsuzan Mountain Range】

The Daisetsuzan mountain range, composed of Asahidake, Kurodake and Aka mountains, among others, is one of the most beautiful autumn foliage locations in Japan. It boasts Japan’s earliest autumn foliage, starting in early September as opposed to in October or November as most other famous spots in the country. Some trees even begin to change colors as early as in August. At the peak of the season, visitors can see a sea of red, green and yellow shades — it’s a true living canvas!
Daisetsuzan is a great place to go for a hike, but don’t forget to wear comfortable clothes. It is also recommended to check ropeway and shuttle timetables in advance.


Mt. Aka (Ginsendai)
■Viewing period: Mid to late September
■Access: From Kamikawa Station, take the bus to Sounkyo (approx. 35 mins). From there, take the shuttle bus to Saisetsu Lakesight

■Access: From Kamikawa Station, take the bus to Sounkyo (approx. 35 mins). From there, take the shuttle bus to Saisetsu Lakesight

Mt. Asahi-dake
■Viewing period: Mid to late September
■Access: 60-minute drive from JR Asahikawa Station or 1h50 taking Ideyu (66) bus; 50-minute drive from Asahikawa Airport.

Kurodake Ropeway
■Viewing period: Early September to Mid-October
■Access: A 60-minute drive from JR Asahikawa Station or 2h taking Dohoku bus Sounkyo; 50-minute drive from Asahikawa Airport.


【Beautiful Landscapes of Lake Akan】

While there are many well-known sightseeing landmarks and beautiful landscapes in Hokkaido, Lake Akan deserves special recognition. In fall, the 30-kilometer-wide area turns into a red and yellow wonderland that becomes the highlight of the season.
Only a 5-minute drive from the Lake Akan hot spring district is one of the best fall foliage spots: Takimi Bridge, where you’ll find vivid autumn colors. Spot the waterfall for a sight straight out of a painting! Check out the Bokke Nature Trail for more fall foliage views too — it’s accessible on foot only a few minutes from the onsen district.
There are many rooms with beautiful views on the lake at one of the many hotels and inns in the town, making it a perfect place to take it slow and relax.

Note: Leaves typically start changing colors around mid-September. Travelers can observe the fall foliage from the end of September to early October.


■Lake Akan Onsen Access:
From Sapporo Station, take the express train to Obihiro Station (approx. 2h40). Then, take the bus bound for Marimo Kyuu until Akanko (approx. 2h30). Bus seat reservation required.
Alternatively, take the express train from Sapporo Station to Kushiro Station (approx. 4h30). Then, take the bus bound for Akanko (approx. 1h50).

■Address: Akanko Onsen, Akanko, Kushiro City, Hokkaido 085-0467

■Spot introduction:
https://en.visit-hokkaido.jp/what-to-do/lake-akan/


【Noboribetsu Hot Springs】

Comes fall and the Japanese rowans and wild lacquer trees of Noboribetsu’s Jigokudani and Oyunuma areas begin to turn bright red.
Jigokudani is a well-known hot spring area. The steam rising from the valley paired with the red and yellow mountains creates a fantastic scenery. After the sun sets, the lights along the boardwalk are lit to create a romantic atmosphere.
Oyunuma is another hot spring area, located at the foot of Mount Hiyori, another scenic spot where travelers can enjoy the fall colors. The view from the Oyunuma observation deck, located on the mountain’s south-facing side, is worth the trip (or two)! Walking to Oyunuma from the closest bus stop takes about 30 minutes, so make sure to pack a pair of comfortable shoes.


■Viewing period: Mid to late October

■Access
Jigokudani: 15-minute bus ride from Noboribetsu Station
Oyunuma: From Noboribetsu Station, take the bus bound for Noboribetsu Onsen, get off at the final stop, and walk for 30 minutes.

■Spot introduction:
https://en.visit-hokkaido.jp/what-to-do/noboribetsu-onsen-jigokudani/


【Sounkyo Onsen Area】

Sounkyo is an area at the foot of Kurodake, part of the Daisetsuzan mountain range, known as the place in Japan where autumn first begins. The mountains here begin to color as early as in late August, offering a stunning view of the prettiest shades of red, orange and yellow.
For a breathtaking view of the autumn leaves, take the ropeway and the lift from the onsen area and head to the 7th station of Kurodake. The view from there is truly memorable!
While there, don’t forget to also visit the Momijidani Hike, one of the main scenic areas in Sounkyo, located a 15-minute walk from the onsen area. The hike itself takes about 30-minutes (one way), during which you can bask in the beautiful red color all around!
At night, enjoy the illumination event Miracle Illumination held from 9/12-10/11 (6pm-9pm). For those who like the outdoors, go to the Ryusei Falls and Ginga Falls for a splendid view of waterfalls at the backdrop of fall foliage. The view there has been chosen as one of the “One Hundred Waterfalls” Views of Japan.
Fun fact: The Seven-Eleven convenience store in the onsen area is run by the family of Olympics ski jumper Sara Takanashi.


■Best time to view the autumn leaves: From late August to mid- to late October.

■Access to Sounkyo Onsen:
From JR Asahikawa Station, board the Douhoku Bus going to Sounkyo Kamikawa for 2 hours, arrive at Sounkyo Station (last stop)

■Address: Sounkyo, Kamikawagun Kamikawacho, Hokkaido

■Spot introduction:
https://en.visit-hokkaido.jp/what-to-do/sounkyo/

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