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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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2015/10/13 - Hakkoda Report
by joe

Colors and clouds on the slopes of Mount Hakkoda

In Japan, the north is often synonymous with the great outdoors, and for travelers hoping to experience autumn colors in a natural, expansive setting, Tohoku, the northernmost region of Japan's main island, is a great place to find it. This week, I'll be visiting three of northern Tohoku's most popular spots for catching the changing leaves. The season here usually starts in late September and lasts through mid-October, making this week a prime time to catch the fall colors at their peak.

This morning I caught an early train on the Tohoku Shinkansen to Aomori Prefecture (less than 3 hours from Tokyo) and made my way to one Mount Hakkoda (Hakkodasan). The mountain well-known amongst winter sports enthusiasts for its huge amounts of powedery snow in the winter, but in the fall, it also draws in thousands of leaf-watchers to its slopes, which are covered in color-changing foliage.

Today Hakkodasan was absolutely on fire with color. To get the best views of the mountain, I took the Hakkoda Ropeway up to the top of Tamoyachidake. The nearly 15-minute gondola ride was stunning. Seeing the entire forest covering almost the entirety of the mountain's slopes turned orange, red, and yellow was staggeringly beautiful, even despite the clouds and rain.

Visitors anxiously lining up like astronauts preparing to board a rocket
Taking in the ocean of orange and yellow from the ropeway
The mountainside was a never-ending, rolling orange wave
A ropeway car making its way up Hakkodasan
Unbelievable colors everywhere!
So much red and yellow the green pine trees often stuck out more than the deciduous trees
Truly a breathtaking view from the ropeway

After taking in the views from afar, the next item on my itinerary for the day was a short hike starting from the famous Sukayu Onsen. The ryokan is home of a huge indoor mixed-gender bath with milky waters--a very tempting post-hike option. I made my way from the onsen to the Kenashitai marshland, about a 30-minute (muddy) hike. Upon reaching the marsh itself, however, the constant drizzle turned into a nasty hail and thunder storm. I was forced to make my back early, though not before catching a few nice glimpses of the fall colors peaking around the wetland area.

A tour bus whipping around the colorful Gold Line road like a horse whipping its ponytail
Amazing foliage surrounding Hakkoda's famous Sukayu Onsen
A bit of the Gold Line road from the hiking trail
Fallen leaves on the muddy trail
Cold, dark pine hues contrasted by the golden marshland grasses at Kenashitai
And...this is about when I decided it was time for a trip to the onsen

After drying off a bit at Sukayu, I made my last stop for the day at the Jogakura Bridge, a five-minute drive from the onsen. The views around the bridge fantastic, and another confirmation that the whole area is at peak color this week.

All in all, the entire Hakkodasan area proved to be a wonderland for autumn colors (even despite the rain, hail and eventual snow today!). I'm looking forward to heading a few kilometers south tomorrow to check on the colors around Lake Towada!

The Jogakura Bridge near Sukayu Onsen
Absolute peak colors around the Jogakura Bridge

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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