Admire Hokkaido’s gorgeous autumn foliage!
Other than being a famous winter destination, the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido is equally mesmerizing throughout the rest of the year, especially in autumn. In fact, Hokkaido is well regarded as the best place in the country to see autumn landscapes at their best!
What to wear
But first, let’s take care of what should and should not be worn when visiting Hokkaido during autumn because we don’t want the noticeably colder than usual mornings and chilly evening breeze to dampen your travel mood. In fact, the autumn temperatures in Hokkaido can go to as low as 10-degree Celcius! Visiting Hokkaido during autumn would mean being accompanied by either a jacket or a sweater. And if you’re looking to feel a little warmer, add on the scarves and gloves!
Getting around Hokkaido
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
As services in Hokkaido itself can be rather sporadic, it’s always a good idea to check the bus schedule before you head out. There are also overnight bus services from Sapporo to other parts of Hokkaido.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
The rail network within Hokkaido itself is limited, though visitors can take express train services between nearby cities including Sapporo, Hakodate, Obihiro and Asahikawa. Look out for Hokuto or Super Hokuto, Tokachi, Super Kamui and Super Ozora lines amongst others.
If you’re planning to travel around the different cities, you might wish to consider getting the JR Hokkaido Pass, that allows visitors to ride all JR trains and some buses in and around Hokkaido.
The best way to discover and get around Hokkaido if you have a valid driver’s license – is by renting a car. Klook offers Hokkaido car rental services with unlimited miles (yes we’re not kidding, as most car companies tend to impose a surcharge or additional fees depending on how far you intend to drive). This means that you can literally pick up your vehicle at Chitose Airport and drive all the way to Hakodate and back if you wish. There’s even a free Pocket WiFi device included in your package for those timely Instagram posts. Score!
Things to do during autumn in Hokkaido
1. Hit up the popular autumn leaves viewing spots!
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
The main reason for visiting Hokkaido during autumn season is to catch the fall foliage or as the Japanese call it – momiji! You see them everywhere, from national parks to mountain slopes, and more. If you only have a short time in Hokkaido, you can visit popular places in and nearby Sapporo like Hokkaido University Gingko Tree Avenue, Nakajima Park, and Jozankei Onsen.
If you have the pleasure of a longer holiday, then make your way to further destinations like Shiretoko Five Lakes, Shirakabayama, Fukidashi Park in Kyogoku Town, Onuma Park and more!
2. Taste all of Hokkaido in an 8-football-fields-sized food festival
Photo Credit: Sapporo Travel
Autumn in Sapporo doesn’t just mean cooler weather but harvest period as well. As a way to welcome the new season and abundance of local produce, the Sapporo Autumn Festival is held annually for three weeks. The size of 8 football fields, this day-to-night event brings the best of Hokkaido cuisines all in one place. Be it international flavours with a local twist or nosh that is unmistakably Japan, stuff yourself silly with exquisite cuisine prepared by local purveyors.
Expect an abundance of municipalities that offer livestock products, processed foods, sake, ramen and of course, sushi. There are also stalls selling a wide range of desserts, like frozen yoghurt! Sapporo Autumn Fest takes place in the city centre of Odori Park, which is perfect to catch a glimpse of the autumn foliage.
Address: Odori Park, right next to Odori Subway Station.
Opening Hours: Daily, 10am to 8:30pm
3. Relax your feet at a hot spring in Jozankei
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Head to the famous Jozankei Tsuruga Resort Spa Mori No Uta. The name, which means Sonnet of the Forest, is perfect for this gorgeous location nestled in the lush Hokkaido forests. The spa resort has top of the line facilities, from massage rooms to saunas, buffet dining, and even a restaurant. But the most well-known feature of this spa resort is the famous onsen or hot springs.
The outdoor traditional Japanese onsen is surrounded by the dense forests of Hokkaido. Sink into its naturally heated waters and take in the rejuvenating atmosphere of nature and feel the stress just slide away. For a relaxing experience from start to finish, you can opt for an onsen day tour with convenient pick-up and drop off locations in Sapporo.
4. Go on scenic road trip in Biei and Furano
Photo Credit: Stephen Stanley for Flickr
Known for picturesque landscapes, driving the roads of Biei and Furano will re-ignite your love for driving. As you cruise along the gentle rolling hills, remember to look out the window and enjoy the view. Make sure to also stop by the beautiful and vibrant flower fields during your visit – they’re easily the most popular attractions in those 2 cities!
5. Explore the city via a human-powered rickshaw ride
Just an hour away from Sapporo via train, take a day trip to Otaru, a largely under-the-radar destination where you can truly bask in solitude. A bustling merchant port in its heyday, much of Otaru’s iconic architectures from yesteryears still remain. The historical Otaru boasts its many piers, canals, and stockyards that will make it seem like you’ve travelled back in time.
With so much to see, the best (and most interesting) way to explore this bucolic town is via a rickshaw ride. Sit back and learn about the beautiful town from your knowledgeable guide. Also, the route is totally customisable with no extra charge. However, do note that the route and destination will change depending on traffic and weather conditions.
6. Grab an aerial view of Hokkaido on a hill that was once a wasteland
Photo Credit: Trevor Dobson for Flickr
The breathtaking Moerenuma Park is located along the outskirts of Sapporo and consists of lush green space and massive features that covers a circumference of 4 kilometres. Fun fact – this place was actually once a garbage reclaimed ground! The best way to revel in the autumn allure of this park is by renting a bike and cycling through the foliage.
But, a trip to Moerenuma Park isn’t complete unless you’ve climbed Mt. Moere. This hill might just look like a little slope, but the breathtaking view of Hokkaido’s cityscape that it offers from the top will just be enough to consider this as the highlight of your trip.
Address: Moerenuma Park, 1-1 Moerenumakoen, Higashi Ward, Sapporo, Hokkaido Prefecture 007-0011, Japan
Opening Hours: Daily, 7am to 10pm
7. Experience -41 Celsius winter weather during autumn
But if the autumn breeze ain’t enough to pacify, how about a day in sub-zero temperatures? At the Ice Pavilion, where the interiors are kept at a constant of -20C, experiencing winter during the fall season in Hokkaido is possible! Winter coats and gloves will be provided so there’s no need to go scurrying for winter wear.
For the sceptics, you’ll be able to swing a wet towel that will be given to you into the chamber and watch it freeze within seconds. Yes, seconds! And for the rebels, head over to the -41 degree room where a simple press of a button will have you experiencing a cold blast of air that measures, you guessed it, -41 degrees. Also, this temperature actually mirrors the coldest day recorded in Hokkaido’s history!
Address: 40 Sakaemachi, Kamikawa-chō, Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaidō
Price: 1080 yen(Adults) | 650 yen(Age 6 – 11) | 200 yen (Age 3 ~ 5)
Opening Hours: Daily, 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
8. Enjoy breathtaking landscape views from the Sapporo TV Tower
The Sapporo TV Tower is located at the end of Odori Park and since it was built in 1956, it’s been one of Sapporo’s biggest attractions and landmarks. In fact, its very building will be able to catch your eye from a mile away. It is also probably the highlight of Odori Park as well!
Head over to its observation deck which is 90 metres off the ground and you’ll be able to enjoy breathtaking landscape views of Odori Park. And if you’re up there during favourable weather conditions, you can enjoy views from as far as Ishikari Plain and even the Sea of Japan!
Konnichiwa from Hokkaido!
Japan’s island of Hokkaido is filled with picturesque scenery, amazing culture, and of course, splendid food. And the breathtaking autumn colours easily make Hokkaido a top travel destination during the Autumn season. Are you ready to embark on your own Hokkaido autumn adventure?