Autumn Color Report 2012
Official autumn color reports by japan-guide.com

Where to see autumn leaves? - When do trees turn colors? - What trees turn colors?
Schedule of upcoming reports - Post your own report

previous post
list all posts
next post

2012/09/20 - Kurodake Report
by schauwecker

Mount Kurodake seen from the ropeway's upper station

Located in the center of Hokkaido, Daisetsuzan National Park is larger than some of Japan's 47 prefectures. Not surprisingly, the park can be accessed from many directions. Today, I did so through Sounkyo, a popular hot spring resort in the north of the national park.

From the town center of Sounkyo, which is located at 670 meters above sea level, a ropeway and chair lift get tourists as far as the 7th Station of Mount Kurodake at 1520 meters, i.e. about seven tenths up the mountain. Kurodake is one of the many peaks of the Daisetsuzan Mountains, and its 1984 meter tall summit can be reached in about an hour from the 7th Station.

Colors were still rare along the chair lift

The autumn colors have not really descended below the 7th Station yet, but they became increasingly intensive as I ascended the steep trail towards the summit. But even close to the summit, most nanakamado bushes, the main provider of colors along the ascent, have not reached their ultimate autumnal beauty yet. This is likely to take several more days.

It seemed to me that there were less dried up leaves along the ascent today as compared to my visit last year; so I am optimistic that the leaves could turn into quite intensive orange and red colors within the following few days.

Along the ascent to the summit of Mount Kurodake
The nanakamado bushes were not at the peak of their beauty yet, but in better shape than last year
Along the ascent to the summit of Mount Kurodake

Around the summit of Kurodake, the main provider of autumn colors were urashima tsutsuji, low shrubs whose leaves turn into a shiny red and appear in patches across the higher elevations of the Daisetsuzan mountains. The third major koyo provider besides the nanakamado bushes and urashima tsutsuji were my beloved chinguruma which made up entire fields especially in the surroundings of the Kurodake mountain hut.

Urashima tsutsuji at the summit
Patches of urashima tsutsuji further in Daisetsuzan's interior
Chinguruma shaped by the wind with their leaves turned red
This chinguruma field was still mainly green

Today, I wasn't content with just climbing Mount Kurodake. So, I ventured into the interior of the Daisetsuzan Mountains and made a big loop around the large Ohachidaira Caldera before returning to Sounkyo. The Ohachidaira Caldera lies in the center of the Daisetsuzan Mountains and may not be entered due to poisonous, volcanic gases.

Scenery not far from the Kurodake mountain hut
Approaching the Ohachidaira Caldera
The Ohachidaira Caldera
Close up on a river in the Ohachidaira Caldera

According to my hiking map, my excursion today involved about seven hours of hiking. Thanks to a horrendous pace, I completed it in 5.5 hours including breaks and hurting knees. More moderate hikers should note that this trip may not be possible in a single day and should consider staying overnight at the Kurodake mountain hut near Kurodake's peak.

Walking around the Ohachidaira Caldera
A few sections of the hike were very windy and led through clouds

Some of the colors in Daisetsuzan's interior have reached the peak of their autumnal beauty, but I think that overall they have still potential to further improve over the coming few days. Today they were best around Mount Kurodake's peak and between the Kurodake mountain hut and the Hokkaidake peak, while the colors were less numerous along the rest of the loop.

Autumn color hunters, who do not wish to make the entire loop, may want to consider to climb Mount Kurodake followed by a round trip to the Hokkaidake peak.

Nice scenery between Hokkaidake peak and the Kurodake mountain hut

previous post
list all posts
next post

List of Posts:
2012/12/11 - Tokyo Report
2012/12/07 - Tokyo Report
2012/12/05 - Kamakura Report
2012/12/02 - Kyoto Report
2012/12/01 - Tokyo Report

2012/11/29 - Kyoto Report
2012/11/29 - Himeji Report
2012/11/27 - Tokyo Report
2012/11/26 - Kyoto Report
2012/11/25 - Kyoto Report
2012/11/23 - Miyajima Report
2012/11/22 - Kyoto Report
2012/11/21 - Tokyo Report
2012/11/21 - Kyoto Report
2012/11/19 - Takaosan Report
2012/11/16 - Kyoto Report
2012/11/15 - Mount Fuji Report
2012/11/15 - Shosenkyo Report
2012/11/14 - Hakone Report
2012/11/13 - Tokyo Report
2012/11/09 - Sakurayama Report
2012/11/08 - Koyasan Report
2012/11/07 - Kyoto Report
2012/11/07 - Nikko Report
2012/11/07 - Yamadera Report
2012/11/06 - Naruko Report
2012/11/05 - Hiraizumi Report
2012/11/05 - Mount Fuji Report
2012/11/01 - Kuju Report

2012/10/31 - Towada Report
2012/10/30 - Bandai Report
2012/10/26 - Minakami Report
2012/10/24 - Nikko Report
2012/10/22 - Alpine Route Report
2012/10/18 - Noboribetsu Report
2012/10/18 - Sounkyo Report
2012/10/17 - Shiretoko Report
2012/10/16 - Norikura Report
2012/10/16 - Nikko Report
2012/10/15 - Kamikochi Report
2012/10/12 - Oze Report
2012/10/11 - Hachimantai Report
2012/10/10 - Bandai Report
2012/10/09 - Nikko Report
2012/10/05 - Route 292 Report
2012/10/04 - Alpine Route Report

2012/09/28 - Kurodake Report
2012/09/27 - Kogen Onsen Report
2012/09/26 - Asahidake Report
2012/09/21 - Asahidake Report
2012/09/20 - Kurodake Report
2012/09/18 - Asahidake Report

Tours and travel services