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Autumn Color Report 2015
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

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2015/09/17 - Daisetsuzan Report
by schauwecker

The weather could not have been better to do the Daisetsuzan Traverse from Asahidake Onsen to Sounkyo Onsen today. Hikers traversing the Daisetsuzan Mountains typically climb the summit of Mount Asahidake along the way; however, I opted for a route via the Susoaidaira Plateau because it is one of the best places to see autumn colors (while the summit of Mount Asahidake is not).

According to my map, the entire hike from the upper station of the Asahidake Ropeway to the upper station of the Kurodake chair lift takes around seven hours. There are lots of ups and downs, and the trail is uneven. Proper hiking shoes and preparations are required. The hike does not include any difficult passages. Rather, its main challenge is the distance. People in good shape should have no problem to complete the traverse in a single day (with an early start); however, hikers with less stamina should consider staying overnight at the Kurodake mountain hut along the way.

Hikers warm up in front of Asahidake's upper ropeway station
The base of Mount Asahidake in the early morning
Ropeway station with sea of clouds in the background

I departed the upper station of the Asahidake Ropeway at 6:50, just a few minutes after the sun had risen from behind Hokkaido's tallest peak. After enjoying the colors around the ropeway station once more, I hiked to the Susoaidaira Plateau in about an hour. The way there was not very colorful, but the Susoaidaira Plateau itself was one of today's highlights with vibrant nanakamado bushes and cute chinguruma plants covering the plateau and surrounding mountain slopes. The colors here were better than on any of my previous visits. Not only was my timing good, but this year's weather conditions seem to have been very favorable for bringing out the best colors.

Arriving at the Susoaidaira Plateau
Vibrant colors at the Susoaidaira Plateau
Vibrant colors at the Susoaidaira Plateau
Wildlife
Some chinguruma plants already lost their fluffy tops
Others were still fluffy
... and provided a wonderful contrast to the colorful nanakamado bushes
Elevated trail through the Susoaidaira Plateau

After reaching the end of the plateau, the trail runs parallel for a while to a beautiful mountain river that smells of sulfur. It soon passes Nakadake Onsen, an area where naturally hot water bubbles out of the ground, and hikers can enjoy the natural waters in small pools next to the river.

Small onsen pools at Nakadake Onsen
Sulfuric mountain river

After another 45 minutes, I reached the rim of the Ohachidaira Caldera, the majestic caldera in the center of the Daisetsuzan Mountains. The caldera, too, had some of its slopes decorated with colorful nanakamado bushes at their peak. The rest of the walk to the summit of Mount Kurodake was similarly spectacular. I have never seen the entire mountain so colorful!

Ohachidaira Caldera (off limits to hikers)
Sulfuric streams and autumn colors in the Ohachidaira Caldera
Walking along the rim of the caldera
Photographing the caldera
A picture similar to the one the man above must have taken
The trail between the Ohachidaira Caldera and Mount Kurodake
More vibrant colors along the way
More vibrant colors along the way
Red urashima tsutsuji shrubs around the summit of Mount Kurodake

The descent from Kurodake's summit to the upper station of the chair lift did not disappoint, either. Here, too, the colors were at their peak and better than in many of the previous seven years. I then descended by chair lift and ropeway to Sounkyo Onsen. The vegetation along the chair lift has only just started to change colors, and it will probably take a couple more weeks until the trees in the onsen town of Sounkyo down at the bottom of the gorge will do the same.

Nice colors along the descent from Mount Kurodake
Nice colors along the descent from Mount Kurodake
I wasn't the only photographer on the mountain
Mount Kurodake seen from the observation deck at Kurodake's upper ropeway station

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List of Posts:
2015/12/09 - Tokyo Report
2015/12/04 - Kyoto Report
2015/12/03 - Tokyo Report
2015/12/01 - Kamakura Report
2015/11/27 - Tokyo Report
2015/11/27 - Kyoto Report
2015/11/27 - Nara Report
2015/11/26 - Osaka Report
2015/11/25 - Miyajima Report
2015/11/24 - Kyoto Report
2015/11/20 - Kyoto Report
2015/11/19 - Tokyo Report
2015/11/19 - Kankakei Report
2015/11/18 - Mount Mitake Report
2015/11/18 - Korankei Report
2015/11/17 - Fujigoko Report
2015/11/17 - Kyoto Report
2015/11/16 - Mount Takao Report
2015/11/13 - Kyoto Report
2015/11/12 - Tokyo Report
2015/11/11 - Hakone Report
2015/11/11 - Fukuroda Falls Report
2015/11/10 - Kyoto Report
2015/11/09 - Koyasan Report
2015/11/08 - Miyajima Report
2015/11/07 - Dazaifu Report
2015/11/06 - Fujigoko Report
2015/11/04 - Tokyo Report
2015/10/30 - Kyoto Report
2015/10/28 - Nikko Report
2015/10/26 - Bandai Report
2015/10/22 - Northern Alps Report
2015/10/21 - Northern Alps Report
2015/10/20 - Mount Fuji Report
2015/10/15 - Hachimantai Report
2015/10/15 - Nikko Report
2015/10/14 - Alpine Route Report
2015/10/14 - Towada Report
2015/10/13 - Hakkoda Report
2015/10/08 - Nasu Report
2015/10/06 - Nikko Report
2015/10/05 - Route 292 Report
2015/09/28 - Oze Report
2015/09/24 - Alpine Route Report
2015/09/17 - Daisetsuzan Report
2015/09/16 - Daisetsuzan Report

Tours and Experiences