If you’ve ever watched a traditional Japanese film, you know, those stories about ancient samurais and warriors, then you must be one of the many who have been wowed and amazed by the beautiful autumn foliage of Japan.

Aside from cherry blossoms falling ever so gently, the maple and other colour changing trees are also some of the best attractions in Japan. While hiking you can see the orange to red leaves falling down on your path, or you can see a whole mountain slope mixed with yellows and oranges and reds. Watching the foliage change in colour is one of the many things that people visit Japan for.

You can enjoy this time of the year in various places in Japan, although some places happen to witness these changes earlier than the others. So this September, set your sights in one of the most popular places in Japan where you can go and enjoy some leaf peeping – in Hokkaido.

Daisetsuzan National Park

This national park is one said to be the earliest that see the changes in the leaves colour, which accordingly happens sometime in the middle of September. This is most true in the trees in the mountains. Thus, be sure to include a hiking trip to the park’s mountains and higher elevations (namely Mount Asahidake and Kogen Onsen).  Come middle or late October, the trees’ leaves in the lower elevated sections of the park also start to show some changes in their colours.


This is probably one of the most scenic spots where you can enjoy some leaf peeping.  Noribetsu is most popular among people as a hot spring resort town, but it is now becoming popular among camera toting tourists as well, because the view of Hell Valley during autumn, and the wonderfully bright orange leaves set against the steaming sulphurous ponds in the mountains make for a picture perfect getaway.

Onuma Park

Autumn changes come quite late in this part of Hokkaido, around October in general. However, it may be well worth the wait since the lovely setting of the trees and the lakes. There are two lakes in the area, the smaller one is named Konuma while the bigger is called Onuma. This is a great place to take a walk and admire the wonderful autumn colours, since the best routes of the park can be explored entirely by foot. These walks will take you to various peninsulas in the lakes where you can get to watch the lakes’ islands in their beautiful hue.

Of course, the whole of Hokkaido is a great place to experience autumnal change, but there are certain places which offer far better views, such as the three named above. Not only do you get to enjoy watching the leaves change colour, but you also get to enjoy various day trips on the side to add more juice to your autumn in Japan.

Photo by carolienc on Flickr