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Mount Asahidake: Beyond Peak

Susoaidaira Plateau

Welcome to the 10th annual autumn color reporting season at! As always, we started our reporting at Daisetsuzan National Park in the center of Hokkaido, the first place in Japan to see the arrival of autumn each year. Today, I took the ropeway from Asahidake Onsen through thick fog to the upper station at the base of Mount Asahidake, Hokkaido's tallest peak, where I walked around the popular, circular trail (45-60 minutes) and hiked to the less visited Susoaidaira Plateau (60-90 minutes one way).

Ropeway ride through the clouds
View from the observation deck at the ropeway's upper station

This year's autumn colors got to an early start in the higher elevations of the national park. The peak of the season has already been reached several days ago, and the colors were reported to be particularly intense and beautiful this year. However, a typhoon passed over Hokkaido on Monday, followed by more violent rain yesterday, which unfortunately took a certain toll on the leaves.

I spent a considerable part of the morning in thick fog

Many of the nanakamado bushes, the most prominent providers of color in the higher elevations of Daisetsuzan, have lost most of their foliage due to the stormy weather. On the other hand, several types of shrubs and grasses were still at the peak of their autumnal beauty and provided vibrant, red and yellow colors along the hiking trails. They seemed particularly intense today and made for a beautiful, seasonal hiking experience.

Many nanakamado bushes (such as the one on the right) lost their leaves over the past 48 hours
A nanakamado bush holding on to some leaves
Colorful shrubs and grasses provide beautiful colors along the hiking trails
The leaves of the Chinguruma Flowers are responsible for most of the red color
Along the circular trail
Along the circular trail
Heading towards the Susoaidaira Plateau
Typical state of nanakamado bushes in the Susoaidaira Plateau
But thanks to shrubs and grasses, the scenery remains decisively autumnal
Susoaidaira Plateau
Susoaidaira Plateau
Heading back

Meanwhile, the colors have started to move further down the slopes of Mount Asahidake and are currently pleasing visitors along the ropeway ride. Even down in the town of Asahidake Onsen, the trees have started changing colors, which is considerably earlier than on most of my previous visits.

Colors along the ropeway
At the ropeway's lower station in Asahidake Onsen

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