Visit Hokkaido and be one of the first to view fall foliage in Japan. Hokkaido’s fall seasons starts in September and runs until November. Compared to Kyoto and Tokyo, it’s one of the first destinations where you can spot changing autumn leaves.
Make the most of this gorgeous season by trekking through national parks, relaxing in natural hot springs, and joining lively festivals with exceptionally fresh food. To help you plan your Hokkaido fall trip, we’ve put together this handy guide for the best things to do, along with helpful tips and tricks.
Discover different ways to soak up the beauty of Hokkaido’s fall foliage with our Hokkaido autumn guide:
Experience Hokkaido’s stunning fall foliage:
Spot Sika Deer at Hokkaido: Daisetsuzan National Park
Witness unspoiled beauty at Japan’s largest national park, located in the middle of the Hokkaido region – It’s a famous hiking spot for good reason. See vivid trees that line the gorge and steep cliffs. Hike the vast trail and spot animals on the way, including sika deer, squirrel, red foxes and various birds. You might even glimpse wild brown bears – beware! Keep a small bell attached to your backpack to warn the bears about your presence.
- How to Get There Take the JR towards Asahikawa, the nearest city to Daisetsuzan. Board the 6:50am train from JR Sapporo Station and arrive in Asahikawa by 8:15am. Wait until 9:10am to hop aboard the bus (#4) to Asahi-dake Onsen Village (another 2-hour ride). Cost: around JP¥2779 and above
- Cost Free entry
- Best Time to Visit Mid-September to October
- Traveler Type Enthusiastic hikers from beginner to advanced levels. Bring a pair of hiking boots and a backpack filled with your food and drinks
Embark on a spectacular journey to Lake Shikotsu, the second deepest lake in Japan. Gaze upon the caldera (volcanic crater) lake’s crystal clear waters, surrounded by high mountain peaks. See the looming volcanic peak of Mt. Usu encircled by forests, which are set ablaze in hues of crimson and gold. Book a day tour with KKday to complete the experience with a visit to nearby volcanic hot springs and Showa Shinzan Bear Park.
- How to Get There Ride the train from JR Hakodate Station to JR Toya Station (2 hours). From JR Toya Station, head to Toyako Onsen Bus Terminal by bus (15 minutes). Cost: https://www.kkday.com/en/product/11257?cid=4624&ud1=17552&ud2=7839 JP¥5057 – 6743
- Cost Free entry (Optional: Volcano Exhibit at Visitor Center will cost around JP¥600)
- Best Time to Visit Early to mid-October
- Traveler Type Nature and animal lovers
Farm Tomita is said to be Hokkaido’s most in-demand tourist attraction, and it’s not hard to see why. Its vibrant blooms placed perfectly in massive flower fields draw everyone in. Adore the endless expanse of red and yellow flowers, along with lavender fields. Let out a dreamy sigh as you gaze upon delicate flowers like marigold and silver cock’s comb, spreading out of the gentle slopes like a rainbow. Make sure to check out the aptly-named Autumn Field, and delight in rows upon rows of beach rose and scarlet sage.
- How to Get There
- Board the Lavender Express train. It may be tricky to depart from JR Sapporo Station in the morning at 7:52am and 9:07am. These are the only times to board the train, so don’t miss them. See updated schedule here
- Take it easy and book a day tour at Farm Tomita with KKday
- Cost JP¥4500
- Best Time to Visit October
- Traveler Type Outdoorsy or romantic travelers (with no pollen allergies)
Attend the Sapporo Autumn Fest in Odori Park
Join the Hokkaido version of Germany’s Oktoberfest! Taste local cuisine and craft beer, wine, and sake. Walk around tents and booths to indulge in popular dishes from all over Hokkaido, or even Western cuisine. We recommend soba (buckwheat noodles), Hokkaido ramen, and seafood meals to sample fresh and locally-grown ingredients.
- How to Get There: Walk south to Odori Park from the JR Sapporo Station
- Service Hours: 10:00am – 8:30pm starting this September 7th – 30th
- Cost Free entry (bring as much yen as you can depending on your hunger levels)
- Best Time to Visit September
- Traveler Type Foodies and craft beer lovers
Warm yourself up in Jozankei Onsen
If you don’t want the cold to bother you (anyway), then a trip to Jozankei Onsen may be your best bet! Warm up by dipping your tired feet in a foot bath, or submerge your whole body in a private hot spring bath. After a refreshing soak, leisurely stroll through Nishikibashi Bridge. Observe the brilliant fall foliage framing the Toyohira River and its picturesque reflection in the deep pool.
- How to Get There Head to Sapporo Station Bus Terminal and board the Jotetsu Bus number 7 or 8 for Jozankei Onsen. Buses depart two or three times every hour. Cost: JP¥770 for one-way transfer (75 minutes)
- Cost JP¥1000
- Best Time to Visit Mid-October
- Traveler Type Those who just want to relax with nature, minus the strenuous activities
Where to stay:
- For Lake Toya: Stay overnight at Airbnbs and hotels via Hotelscombined in Hakodate City and take the train. You may also opt to stay near the destination at The Lake View Toya Nonokaze Resort, which includes a free round-trip shuttle bus service between JR Sapporo station to the hotel
- Address: 29-1 Toyako Onsen, Toyako-cho, Abuta-gun 049-5721, Hokkaido 00 81 142-75-2600
- For Daisetsuzan National Park: Washington Hotel Asahikawa
- Address: 7 Chome-3112 Miyashitadori, Asahikawa, Hokkaido 070-0030, Japan
- For the other attractions: We generally recommend staying in Sapporo. Check out these accommodations in Airbnb and hotels via Hotelscombined
Tips and Tricks:
- Brace yourself, winter is coming (soon) The temperature falls as the day progresses during Autumn. The morning and evening temperatures start to drop in September and October (around 7 to 14°C) , and may be below freezing in November.
- What to wear Cover up in layers. You may need to wear a coat and a fleece over your shirt. Girls can wear dresses and skirts over leggings or pants, and guys can wear jeans and pants.
- Accessories to bring along Hat, sunglasses, folding umbrella, and stole. Oh, and don’t forget your camera!
Are you ready to get swept off your feet by nature’s most stunning display of color? Unleash your inner poet and hopeless romantic no matter where you choose to go in Hokkaido. Embark on a spectacular journey through rugged mountains or simply relax and witness immense beauty from soaking inside an onsen. ‘Fall’ in love with Hokkaido’s autumn attractions and book with KKday!
Check out more cool things to do and places to go during fall in Japan: