Hokkaido by train in autumn 北海道電車ツアー
Hokkaido is the first region of Japan where the autumn leaves arrive before spreading south, as it is the northernmost island of the archipelago. To better appreciate the colours, how about a train ride from Sapporo?
Daisetsuzan Park in fall
Daisetsuzan Park in Hokkaido
Daisetsuzan in autumn
A rail adventure
It's in the heart of Hokkaido that the koyo season, autumn colored foliage, begins. From the beginning of September, the leaves start to change color and all of Daisetsuzan National Park, with a total area of 220,000 hectares, is colored yellow, red and orange, to the delight of visiting nature lovers.
Start your day in Sapporo: the JR limited express train to Asahikawa will take you into the wilderness in about 1 hour 30 minutes. Once there, take the bus to the Asahikawa ropeway (Sanroku station), which will raise you to 1,600 meters above sea level. It is here that the real adventure begins: on a hiking trail of about an hour, you can enjoy the view of the mountains of Daisetsuzan and visit the ponds Sugatami and Meoto.
Forests on Asahidake
The "Asahidake ropeway"
A village with a thousand colors
From Asahikawa, a local train takes you to the village of Biei, a little further west of Daisetsuzan National Park. The flower season gives way to the harvest season. The forest around the blue pond Aoi ike is dyed in the colors of the earth and reveals a calm and relaxing atmosphere, without the tourists, often numerous in summer. The colorful Four Seasons Hill, Shikisai no oka, is also a place to enjoy the best views of the island.
For those who prefer to simply enjoy the view, a bus ride service is available and changes according to the season: from late September to early October, the Biei Bus View takes you to the Biei Hills (Tour of the hills) or enjoy the panorama of flowering fields and the blue pond (Flower fields and blue pond tour).
Adult price: 2,000 yen; Children's rate (up to 11 years old): 1,000 yen.
Finally, remember that if you travel from Sapporo to Biei and Furano , the Furano-Biei Rail Ticket allows you to travel unlimited for 4 days for 6,500 yen ($58).
Flower fields in Biei, "Shikisai no oka", Hokkaido
Credit: Jérôme Laborde