After failing to report the autumn colors in 2021 and 2022, we are relieved and happy to resume documenting the seasonal spectacle in 2023. Today, I visited Mount Asahidake in Hokkaido's Daisetsuzan National Park, the first place in Japan to see autumn colors each year.

I took the Asahidake Ropeway to an altitude of around 1600 meters above sea level, where in the average year the autumn colors are reaching their peak around this time of the year. This summer, however, has been one of the hottest in Hokkaido's history, which has caused a considerable delay in the appearance of the seasonal colors. In fact, today's visit felt almost like a mid-summer visit, with green as the predominant color.

I limited my activity around the mountain to the circular hiking trail at the upper ropeway station, which takes about one hour to complete. A closer look at the nanakamado bushes, the most prominent provider of autumn colors in the high altitudes, revealed that the summer heat seemed to have caused some damage to them. Many have dried out prematurely, which is likely going to lead to a somewhat less vibrant autumn color season than in cooler years.

Nevertheless, the colors around Mount Asahidake will gradually intensify over the next days, and I expect the peak of the season to arrive here in the last third of September with a 1-2 week delay compared to the average year. Afterwards, the colors will gradually descend the mountain slopes and delight visitors at lower elevations of the national park into mid October and possibly beyond.