Best places to view autumn leaves in Hokkaido ~vol.2~
【Gingko tree tunnel at Hokkaido University, Sapporo Campus】
The golden tunnel of Gingko trees at Hokkaido University, Sapporo Campus, is a popular sightseeing spot located close to Sapporo Station. One of the best views you can witness on campus is the 70 ginkgo trees that line the North 13th gate avenue. The golden tunnel is best to see from around late October to early November every year. However, it’s not just the trees that are golden－the endless carpet of yellow fallen leaves is a view you also wouldn’t want to miss.
While there, make sure to check out their Konyousai Festival, which is held during the last weekend of October. The illumination at night gives the ginkgo trees a different look from daytime.
It takes about a 15-minute walk across campus to reach Gingko Avenue. You can either enjoy the walk by passing through the historic buildings around campus or access from Kitajuunijou Station, which is closer to the ginkgo tree area.
■Access：Main entrance is a 10-minute walk from Sapporo Station
Gingko Avenue: 4-minute walk from Namboku Line Subway Kitajuunijou Station
■Spot introduction: https://en.visit-hokkaido.jp/what-to-do/gingko-avenue-at-hokkaido-university
【Red cherry tree tunnels at Hiraoka Jyugei Center】
Hiraoka Jyugei Center (Hiraoka Tree Art Center) in Sapporo, Hokkaido is famous for its beautiful fall foliage. Here, visitors can walk through Japanese and Western gardens, stroll along a road decorated with cherry trees, and enjoy various flowers from all cultures and landscapes.
In autumn, visitors can see the leaves of about 800 trees turn shades of red, orange or yellow. The cherry trees will turn a vivid crimson to create a red tunnel! There are also over eight Japanese maple varieties to see throughout the center, and the contrasts between the fall colors and the green of other plants is a rare, beautiful sight.
■Access: From Oyachi Station, take the #69 Chuo Bus, get off at Hiraoka 4-Jo 2-Chome and walk for 1 minute.
From Shin-Sapporo Station, take the #111 Chuo Bus, get off at Hiraoka 4-Jo 2-Chome and walk for 1 minute.
Visitors can also access the center via buses #66 and #67 from Oyachi Station. Simply get off at Hiraoka 4-Jo 3-Chome and walk for five minutes.
■Address: 4-3 Hiraoka, Kiyota-ku, Sapporo City, Hokkaido 004-0874
■Information: The center is closed on Mondays (If Monday is a public holiday, the center will be closed on the following business day)
Open: Apr 29-Nov 3 Business Hours: 8:45 to 17:15
■Spot introduction: https://en.visit-hokkaido.jp/what-to-do/hiraoka-tree-art-center
【The view of deep forests and mountains from Mikuni Pass】
At 1,139 meters above sea level, Mikuni pass is the highest mountain pass located on a national highway. Though beautiful in the summer, the view of the forest and mountain range is especially attractive once fall comes around due to its breathtaking fall foliage. See the view change from green to a spectrum of oranges and red as you drive through this superb spot. Matsumi Bridge, a red structure suspended over the forest, is one of Mikuni Pass’ most famous views. It can be seen from Ryokushin Bridge and has been selected as one of the best places to take pictures along Japan’s most 100 famous roads.
Take a break and enjoy the scenery from the observation deck at the Mikuni Pass rest area where you will also find a lovely cafe.
Best time to visit is late-September to mid-October.
■Access: 3.5-hour drive from downtown Sapporo (via the Pippu JCT on the Hokkaido Expressway)
■Address: Mitsumata, Kamishihoro, Kato District, Hokkaido
■Parking: Free (up to 15 cars)
Rest spot: Mikuni Pass Café
■Business hours: 8:30-16:30
■Spot introduction: https://en.visit-hokkaido.jp/what-to-do/mikuni-pass/
【The Autumn colours of Shinsen-numa Marsh】
Shinsen-numa Marsh is located in Kyowa Town, to the north of Niseko. Known for its beautiful autumn leaves, this spot is particularly well-visited in the autumn months.
Surrounded by stunning scenery the likes of which can rarely be seen outside of Hokkaido, as you advance towards the center of the marsh you will begin to feel at peace with the tranquil natural environment. On a clear, calm day, the surrounding trees and foliage are so faithfully reflected in the perfectly still water of the marsh that you’ll have a hard time knowing whether you’re facing up or down!
During the autumn, the little island which appears to float upon the surface of the lake becomes a picture-perfect masterpiece as it is painted with the bright golden leaves of autumn. To see the autumn leaves at their best, be sure to visit between late-September and mid-October.
■Address: Maeda, Kyowa, Iwanai District, Hokkaido
■Access: Approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes by car from central Sapporo (via Route 66)
■Season: Late-May to Mid-November
■Spot introduction: https://en.visit-hokkaido.jp/what-to-do/shinsen-numa-marsh
【Toyoni Lake, known as the “Heart Lake”】
Located in Erimo at the most south-east point of Hokkaido is Toyoni Lake, a natural wonder of water spanning about 1 kilometer in circumference. Surrounded by untouched forest, the lake is known as the “Heart Lake” due to its unique shape when viewed from the sky. This spot became a famous destination after it was featured in an advertising campaign by Shiroi Koibito, a Japanese sweets brand. Before being called the “Heart Lake,” however, it was nicknamed “God’s Swamp” by the Ainu due to the water’s vivid emerald green color.
Though it’s difficult to see the lake’s shape without the bird’s eye view, the walk around the shore is still incredibly enjoyable. The area is lively with fauna, including wild deer and bears. The trees around the lake turn lovely shades of red and yellow to reveal the area’s fall colors from October. During this time of year, it’s usually possible to take a helicopter to view the autumn leaves from the air, revealing the lake’s unique heart shape.
■Access: 2-hour drive from JR Samani Station. The parking lot is about 200 meters from the lakeshore.
*Visitors must fill out an entry form upon arrival.
■Address: Toyoni Lake, Erimo, Horoizumi District, Hokkaido
■Spot introduction: https://en.visit-hokkaido.jp/what-to-do/lake-toyoni-helicopter-rides