|Schauwecker's Japan Travel Blog|
by Stefan Schauwecker, webmaster of japan-guide.com
This blog is intended to record some of my travel activities in Japan.
2009/09/14 - Autumn Color Report: Mount Asahidake
Asahidake is Hokkaido's tallest mountain and the first place in Japan to see autumn colors each year. Therefore, we selected it as the first destination of our autumn color reports like in the previous year. Leaves in the mountain's higher elevations start coloring as early as August and usually reach the peak of their autumnal beauty in mid September.
A few days ago, the first snow was already reported on Asahidake (several days earlier than in the average year), prompting me to worry about a repetition of last year's white start to the autumn leaf report season, when Asahidake's autumn colors were already covered under a layer of snow. Fortunately, snow fell only around the summit and instead of covering up the autumn colors, provided an interesting contrast to them.
A ropeway lifts tourists from the small town of Asahidake Onsen to above the tree line into an alpine plateau below the summit where small bushes rather than trees provide the seasonal colors. The colors were at their best. Many pockets of red, orange and yellow bushes dotted the landscape along the circular 1-hour trail that starts and ends at the ropeway's upper station.
Even more spectacular looked the colors around the Susoaidaira Plateau, which is a 90-120 minute hike (one way) north of the upper ropeway station. The trail for Susoaidaira Plateau branches off the circular trail around the Meotoike Ponds.
Visitors in the hope of seeing Asahidake's autumn colors should hurry, as the leaves' shiny colors are expected to start fading into brown in the next few days. Furthermore, they might soon get covered by snow.