Daisetsuzan, Hokkaidō: Japan’s Earliest Autumn Foliage

Guide to Japan Travel

The Daisetsuzan Volcanic Group is a set of peaks in central Hokkaidō that rise to a height of around 2,000 meters. With their combination of elevation and northerly latitude, they display the earliest autumn foliage of any place in Japan. Around the beginning of September this year, the area near the summit of Mount Kuro (Kurodake, 1,984 m) was already heralding the onset of autumn with the red leaves of its alpine bearberry (urashima tsutsuji) plants. As the mornings and evenings get colder, the foliage gets brighter. Other plants, such as Japanese rowan (nanakamado) and Middendorff weigela (ukon utsugi) also take on autumnal hues, and over the course of about a month the reds and yellows spread down to the foot of the mountain.

A seven-minute ride in a ropeway gondola takes visitors from the Sōunkyō Onsenkyō hot spring resort at the base to Kurodake Station at an elevation of 1,300 meters, where they can enjoy a view of the summit from an observation deck. From there they can ride a two-person chairlift to a spot about 200 meters higher, where they can take in a panoramic view of the colorful slopes. (Recorded on September 4, 2019)

(Originally published in Japanese. Created in cooperation with Sapporo Television Broadcasting.)

tourism Hokkaidō nature autumn autumn foliage mountain