While there are countless famous places in Hokkaido to enjoy the colors of fall, this piece focuses on the downtown autumn foliage spots that are conveniently accessible from the Sapporo subway.
No.4 Maruyama Park
Mount Maruyama rises 225 meters (738 ft) above sea level just west of the Sapporo city center. Small as it is, this power spot carries out an important feng shui role: it’s known as a terminal that brings the energy of Mount Yotei to the heart of Sapporo. A mere 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) from central Sapporo, Mount Maruyama features at its base a virgin forest designated as a protected natural monument, a real nature zone in the middle of the city. In this little corner lies Maruyama Park, well known as a destination for hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, in the spring, and it’s a perfect place to enjoy autumn colors as well.
You can get to Maruyama Park from central Sapporo in only a few minutes on the Tozai municipal subway line. This autumn foliage spot in the middle of the metropolis has truly magnificent scenery, comparable to Central Park in New York or the Luxembourg Garden in Paris.
Making an autumn descent from the power spot of Mount Maruyama down into the park at its base endows the body with gentle energy. In the early morning, the sun rising from the golden trees is a source of great vitality; in the evening, you can take in the waves of affection while strolling along and treading through the colorful fallen leaves.
No.3 Hokkaido University Campus
The locally famous row of ginkgo trees on the Hokkaido University campus are at their best from the end of October up to the first ten days of November, and the campus is crowded with townspeople and tourists at this time. Located north of Sapporo station, the golden-colored scenery of these trees is, in a word, a masterpiece. All that can be heard from people looking up into the “golden tunnel” of the trees are sighs mixed with emotional cries of “sugoi!” (“incredible!”)
It’s satisfying enough just to look at the “golden tunnel,” but the university’s autumn foliage spots aren’t limited to the ginkgo trees. Also be sure to walk over to Ono Pond, located by the science and engineering department in the campus interior. Seeing the beauty of the autumn colors reflected in the water’s surface creates a different atmosphere from the trees by the university entrance.
No.2 Nakajima Park
Lying to the south of Susukino, Sapporo’s epic entertainment district, Nakajima Park is a soothing, relaxing nature space that feels removed from the bustling world around it. From a feng shui perspective, the park is full of “water” energy from the Toyohira River; but it’s also a convenient place to enjoy autumn colors in the heart of Sapporo.
In contrast to the ginkgo trees at Hokkaido University, which are mainly amber-colored, the colors here come from reddish trees and shrubs. The park’s scenery, with the foliage from the compact, mini-garden-esque interior reflected in Shobu Pond, is enough to make you feel as if you’re in an autumn garden in Kyoto. You can also rent boats on Shobu Pond (¥600 for 40 minutes), allowing you to enjoy the fall colors from the water.
No.1 Hokkaido Shrine
This sacred place is one of the strongest power spots in the city. It draws energy from both the Moiwa and Teine mountains, making it a location that unites the “two dragons” in feng shui terms.
In the autumn, the trees along the road leading from the main shrine to Maruyama Park have a bewitching color. Simply walking through the shrine and taking in the sacred chi energy that flows into the grounds in the early morning is enough to purify the body of bad influences. You can also see cute squirrels poking their heads out from between the trees and pestering the shrine’s visitors for food.
To get the most energy from a visit to Hokkaido Shrine, it’s best to go in the early morning, as the sun rises. If you offer worship at the golden entrance opposite the red torii gate, it will bring you luck for the rest of the day.
Hot Tip: Weekend & Holiday Subway Pass!
The Sapporo municipal subway sells a Donichika Kippu ticket on weekends and national holidays that allows you to ride the subway as much as you like for the day. These can be bought for ¥520 at every station.
Address: Nakajima Park, Chuo-ku, Sapporo Hotel: Booking here!!