The Best Spots to See Autumn Leaves in Hokkaido

See the earliest autumn leaves in Japan at Hokkaido's billowing onsen towns and quiet parks.

This northernmost region of Japan is known for heavy snowfall during the winter which attracts skiers and snowboarders every year. Though popular in winter, Hokkaido’s vast wilderness comes alive in autumn with countless national parks perfect for hiking and camping—aka quintessential autumn activities.

Hokkaido is the only prefecture in Japan that has its own region all to itself due to the wide landmass it covers. The prefecture has some of the earliest changing leaves in Japan with peak times ranging from mid-September to early November.

Jozankei Onsen

Futami Suspension Bridge Jozankei Onsen in Sapporo, Hokkaido

Futami Suspension Bridge in Jozankei Onsen.

The whole Jozankei Onsen area is widely famous for its beautiful autumn foliage. The Hoheikyo Dam is a popular destination to catch a memorable view of koyo (autumn leaves). Jozankei also has a local Koyo Kappa Bus Tour which takes you around to the most magnificent views in the Jokanzei area.

  • Peak season: Early to mid-October
  • Sapporo, Hokkaido - Map

Odori Park

Odori Park Autumn leaves Sapporo Hokkaido Japan

The cityscape at dusk over Odori Park during autumn.

The famous Odori Park in the capital city of Sapporo is home to the iconic Sapporo Tv Tower. The park extends 1.5 kilometers from east to west and has about 4,700 trees which start turning colors as early as the beginning of October.

  • Peak season: Early to mid-October
  • Sapporo, Hokkaido - Map

Maruyama Park

Maruyama Park in autumn

Photo by: humbletree Maruyama Park in autumn

Filled with towering cedars, magnolia, and lush maple trees, you do not want to miss the koyo at Sapporo’s Maruyama Park. The best time to see the colorful transformation of trees and leaves is usually mid-to-late October. Take a nice long walk around the beautiful park and watch squirrels and small birds chirp about before the snow sets in—it’s honestly like Snow White in real life.

  • Peak season: Mid to late October
  • Sapporo, Hokkaido - Map

Kosetsuen Garden

Photo by: Hakodate City Kosetsuen Garden at Miharashi Park at night.

Kosetsuen, formerly Iwafune Garden, located in Miharashi Park, is the only garden in Hokkaido that’s a designated cultural property of Japan. That means it’s really important. With about 150 kinds of trees in the park and unique buildings built during the Meiji and Taisho eras, Kosetsuen takes you on a historical journey alongside the koyo beauty. During the Hakodate Festival in October and November, the garden lights up creating a fantasy-like scenery.

  • Peak season: Mid October to early November
  • Autumn Light-up: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Oct. 19 to Nov. 10, 2019)
  • Hakodate, Hokkaido - Map

Goryokaku

Goryokaku Park Hakodate Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves and Goryokaku Tower.

Famous for its cherry blossoms, which attracts hordes of tourists during springtime, this star-shaped park can also be enjoyed during the quieter period of autumn. On sunny days, the koyo leaves reflect on the surface of the moat which circles the whole garden.

  • Peak season: Mid October to early November
  • Hakodate, Hokkaido - Map

Shikotsu Toya National Park

Autumn season at noboribetsu and jigokudani volcano onsen in Sapporo Hokkaido Japan

Steamy scenes at Noboribetsu Onsen.

With nearly 1000 square kilometers of lakes, volcanoes, hiking trails, and onsen, the Shikotsu-Toya National Park boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in the entire prefecture. Taking full advantage of the hugeness, you should actually take a koyo drive for the best views. Probably the most unique autumn scenery comes from the Noboribetsu area where billowing hot spring smoke weaves through the bright colors.

  • Peak season: Mid to late October
  • Chitose, Hokkaido - Map