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Does autumn work well for Hokkaido plus Tohoku?

Does autumn work well for Hokkaido plus Tohoku?

Old Mar 12th, 2024, 03:39 AM
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Does autumn work well for Hokkaido plus Tohoku?

For my 2025 trip (which will be somewhere between 4 and 6 weeks in length) I'm dithering a LOT between Shikoku + Chugoku OR Hokkaido + Tohoku.

We'd like to travel in either September/ October or October/ November.

Both husband and I are leaning towards Hokkaido + Tohoku except for the fact that all the guides I can find, and the few friends who've been, tell me Summer or Winter. I can't find anyone who's visited in autumn and can tell me whether it's a good time for these regions? I realise that in summer there's a lot of focus on flowers and wildlife, and in winter there's the snow and ice side of things. But how long into autumn might flowers last and wildlife sightings still be good? If anyone has any experience of travel in these two regions during September, October or November, I'd love your input!

Or would you recommend Shikoku and Chugoku for an autumn trip instead?

All input welcome!
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Old Mar 12th, 2024, 08:06 AM
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October/ November
Hokkaido + Tohoku

I went to Hokkaido in autumn 2022, arriving in Sapporo on Halloween. Four nights, I think, in Sapporo with a day trip to Otaru and then one night in Noboribetsu Onsen. I had been to Otaru before but that was before I liked sushi, so I had to go back for sushi and to take the ropeway trip. [my first visit to Otaru and Noboribetsu Onsen was 20 years ago and at the time kuranosuke thought I was nuts for going to Otaru and not having sushi - as if it would be like going to Tsukiji and having a cheeseburger].


In Sapporo I did not ride the Moiwa ropeway. I was told that the fall colors on the university campus were glorious. I was walking with a cane and my knee said no to that idea. Took the train from Sapporo to Noboribetsu Station and then, instead of the bus, took a taxi up to Noboribetsu Onsen (not expensive) to save some uphill walking to Daiichi Takimotokan. Takimotokan is a big tourist hotel, basic room, wonderful onsen baths with a great view of Jigokudani. If you stay elsewhere you definitely want to go there for a soak. My flight from Tokyo to Sapporo in comfy business class on a widebody was inexpensive, a good deal.

My Tohoku plan for October last year got blown all to hell. I stayed in Akita and Aomori. My plan was to visit Tazawako and to Nyuto Onsen for a soak (prevously stayed at Nyuto Onsen and Kakunodate which I recommend). Take the scenic train along the coast from Akita to Hirosaki, visit the castle, then on to Aomori. Main interest in Aomori was to visit Towadako There is a JR bus from Aomori Station to Towadako with many scenic stops (including a ropeway, Oirase stream) and a boat on the lake (the short course looked best to me). That bus stops running in early November (which tells you that October, end of October, is a good time to go).

On the previous Hokkaido trip, I stopped at Toyako and saw the excellent view of the lake caldera and a the bus stopped at a spot where you could see a new mountain that was growing and there was a ropeway. Hakodate was interesting.

As far as Shikoku and Chugoku go October/November would be a good time to go.


Last edited by mrwunrfl; Mar 12th, 2024 at 08:10 AM.
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Old Mar 13th, 2024, 12:47 AM
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Thank you so much mrwunrfl!

Sounds like I was worrying for nothing and autumn works well for Hokkaido and Tohoku! I'm so sorry your 2022 plans for Tohoku fell through though -- are you replanning that trip?

Thanks again,
Kavey

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Old Mar 13th, 2024, 02:31 PM
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We were in Hakodate this past November and it was unseasonably warm. A windbreaker was all I needed. The Mrs. kept looking at all the warm clothing we had packed and never used. The visit a few years before was April, I had a mid weight jacket and had to buy a hoodie to wear beneath it, I was freezing. Sento visits while there was a must!
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Old Mar 13th, 2024, 11:55 PM
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Originally Posted by curiousgeo
We were in Hakodate this past November and it was unseasonably warm. A windbreaker was all I needed. The Mrs. kept looking at all the warm clothing we had packed and never used. The visit a few years before was April, I had a mid weight jacket and had to buy a hoodie to wear beneath it, I was freezing. Sento visits while there was a must!
It's true that in some of our recent trips the weather has not really matched the averages created over many years of keeping a record. I guess weather patterns are changing a lot these last few years.
Thanks so much, and did you post any trip report about that trip here or elsewhere on the web by any chance?
<3 Kavey
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Old Mar 14th, 2024, 12:57 AM
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October/November would be a great time to go. The foliage should still be nice and you can avoid the summer crowds. Personally, I've always wanted to check out the autumn colors up north.
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Old Mar 14th, 2024, 08:22 AM
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Hi Kavey,

We did a trip to Hokkaido and Tohoku a few years ago. We have been back several times but no reports. I did write this one and information may help you.

Capturing the Koyo of Autumn in Japan 2009

Aloha!
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Old Mar 14th, 2024, 12:45 PM
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aloha Peter, been awhile
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Old Mar 14th, 2024, 01:38 PM
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I've been to Tohoku in late October/early November. One thing to beware of is places shutting down for winter, especially in the north.

I visited Osorezan on 31 October and that was its final day for the year. And in the far north (I went to Omasaki) it gets dark by 4:30. The road from Aomori south to Oirase stream had snow and the koyo was past its peak. The boats on lake Towada were closed.

I also did a round trip on the Sii ferry from Aomori to Sai but after two people got off at the first stop, it turned out I was the only passenger. So they bypassed all the remaining stops there and back, thereby vitiating my entire purpose for taking the trip. OTOH there was some celebration going on in Sai (I didn't find out why) with a vast tureen of excellent seafood soup being dished out for free. That ferry shut down altogether in 2020.

Further south, but still in Tohoku, things were more pleasant. I have some photos here (scroll down to November 2014): https://adumbrate.org/pics/walks/

The info below each photo gives the date and time using PST.

Last edited by someotherguy; Mar 14th, 2024 at 01:47 PM. Reason: line breaks
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Old Mar 15th, 2024, 12:11 AM
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Originally Posted by hewholovestravel
October/November would be a great time to go. The foliage should still be nice and you can avoid the summer crowds. Personally, I've always wanted to check out the autumn colors up north.
Thank you, we do enjoy autumn colours so much!
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Old Mar 15th, 2024, 12:12 AM
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Originally Posted by hawaiiantraveler
Hi Kavey,

We did a trip to Hokkaido and Tohoku a few years ago. We have been back several times but no reports. I did write this one and information may help you.

Capturing the Koyo of Autumn in Japan 2009

Aloha!
Hello hello, thank you so much!
I'll go and have a good read!
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Old Mar 15th, 2024, 12:13 AM
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Originally Posted by someotherguy
I've been to Tohoku in late October/early November. One thing to beware of is places shutting down for winter, especially in the north.

I visited Osorezan on 31 October and that was its final day for the year. And in the far north (I went to Omasaki) it gets dark by 4:30. The road from Aomori south to Oirase stream had snow and the koyo was past its peak. The boats on lake Towada were closed.

I also did a round trip on the Sii ferry from Aomori to Sai but after two people got off at the first stop, it turned out I was the only passenger. So they bypassed all the remaining stops there and back, thereby vitiating my entire purpose for taking the trip. OTOH there was some celebration going on in Sai (I didn't find out why) with a vast tureen of excellent seafood soup being dished out for free. That ferry shut down altogether in 2020.

Further south, but still in Tohoku, things were more pleasant. I have some photos here (scroll down to November 2014): https://adumbrate.org/pics/walks/

The info below each photo gives the date and time using PST.
Really helpful thank you. I'll keep seasonal closures in mind, hadn't thought of that at all!
I'm now leaning towards September October over October November and could start at the northern most point and work south rather than other way around.
Should allow us to ensure things are still open in Hokkaido!
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Old Mar 18th, 2024, 08:36 AM
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Aloha Bill,

Yes it has. Hope all is well with you!

Aloha!
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