Travel Guide: Hokkaido in Autumn, The Koyo Season

Location: Hokkaido, Japan

Editor’s note: Colorful leaves, or “koyo”, are to Hokkaido in Autumn, what cherry blossoms are to spring.  Koyo season starts in mid September, drawing large numbers of visitors, both local and international, to famous koyo spots around the country. Here, Bumble Bee Mum shares with us snapshots of her trip to Hokkaido in Autumn, one mid-October, a trip taken with her parents and her two sons.  Thanks Bumble Bee Mum – for giving us even more reasons to visit Hokkaido and experience its beauty in all seasons! 

Hokkaido in Autumn – the “Koyo Season” in Mid-October

Bumble Bee Mum Hokkaido in Autumn at Jozankei-Onsen
During the short PSLE marking week in mid-October 2 years ago (2013), my parents and I and my two kids headed to Hokkaido for a short 5 days trip.  It was autumn, the foliage (Koyo) season, and we planned to visit some of the popular koyo spots.

…starting with Jozankei Onsen

Bumble Bee Mum Hokkaido in Autumn Koyo season

If you are in Jozankei Onsen during koyo season, you MUST visit Houkeikyou Dam.  It is extremely beautiful at this time of the year!

Flower Fields in Furano, even in Autumn

Bumble Bee Mum Hokkaido in Autumn at Tomita Farm
Many people relate the flower fields of Furano and Biei to Summer. But the flowers continue to bloom through Hokkaido in Autumn, making the region a must-visit even in autumn months. (Unfortunately I do not have better photos to show you, because there was a TYPHOON when we were there which trapped us indoors.)


Bumble Bee Mum Hokkaido in Koyo at NoboribetsuNoboribetsu is another popular koyo spot in Hokkaido, but it tend to peak later in the month. There was limited autumn foliage when we were there in mid-October.

And in Sapporo…

Back in Sapporo, some of the trees lining Odori Park were turning bright red in Autumn.

The BEST place to see autumn foliage in Sapporo is definitely Makomanai Park! This photo shows just a teeny fraction of the koyo you can see there!

Another beautiful park to visit in Sapporo is Nakajima Koen.  It is extremely serene and the lake in the centre of the park reflects the surrounding building and trees.

Towards November, the gingko trees at Hokkaido University will turn GOLDEN.  When we were there in Mid-October, only one tree had turned golden. It was beautiful nevertheless.

The ropeway up to Mount Moiwa will also be surrounded by autumn foliage if you go at the right time. However, when we were there, it was still pretty green. Still, the birds eye view of the city below made the trip worthwhile. We went up during sunset to catch both day and night time views.

Autumn foliage aside, we also visited JR Tower Observatory T38.  Don’t forget to pay a visit to the toilet there. 😉

Remember it’s all up to Mother Nature

When planning a trip to see autumn foliage in Hokkaido, please bear in mind that foliage season varies year by year, all depending on the Hokkaido weather.  In Hokkaido, the earliest regions to see autumn foliage are the Daisetsuzan region and Niseko, where koyo peaks (usually) by end September, before moving on to Jozankei and Sapporo in early-mid Oct and southwards to Noboribetsu and Onuma Koen in end Oct – early Nov.  However, some years it may be earlier or later, so you may have to play by ear.

We stayed in Sapporo for all 5 days and rented a car, and only decided where to visit on the day itself based on autumn foliage report.  You can read more details about our trip in my original post here.

Editor’s note: What’s your favourite season, for visiting Hokkaido? Leave us a comment, or share a tip with us here – we’ve love to hear from you.


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