Places to Visit Before the Snow Reaches Niseko
September is here, and the frost is already beginning remind us of its presence on some of the taller mountains in Japan — but there's still plenty of time to explore the green!
After a record-breaking volume of early season snow last year, Hokkaido continues to leave onlookers surprised with some of the earliest snowfall in Hokkaido for 40 years.
In mid-August, the peak of Mount Kurodake in central Hokkaido was hit by a generous dusting of first-of-the-season snow; the earliest recorded there since 1974.
The first appearance of snow hits Hokkaido's peaks. Photo credit: Rinyu Kanko Co.
Fortunately, with 3 months until winter, there's still plenty of time to visit Hokkaido's exciting green-season spots — spots which are destined to drastically change once the winds of winter blow in.
The most recognisable silhouette in Niseko, Mt. Yotei's prominent, hulking presence takes on a completely different personality outside of the winter months — green and luscious, and criss-crossed with forests and mountain trails.
If you've ever climbed Yotei in the winter, the experience compared to the summer and autumn is like night and day; with the lack of snow exposing the sheer amount of life hidden below. If you're a hiking or trail-running enthusiast (or just a fan of the majesty of nature), make sure you climb green Yotei while you can ... the frost is far closer than you think.
A local favourite, all year round, the majestic Lake Toya's blue waters and verdant shores provide the perfect environment of autumnal adventures. The crisp, cool weather of Autumn lends itself perfectly to outdoor camping, and in the fall, Lake Toya is extremely popular with outdoorsy people looking for a place to pitch, relax, and BBQ by the water.
Toya is also famous for its fireworks events, which are displayed almost every evening from May until October—and there's little better than sitting by the water in a camping chair with a hot drink in hand, watching dancing rockets light up the night sky.
Niseko Grand Hirafu Resort
Most areas in Hokkaido have a whole new style of life when they're not covered in snow, and Niseko Hirafu is no different. Despite not catering to the ski and snowboarding crowds in the summer and autumn, Niseko has a thriving cycling and mountain biking scene.
Ride the gondola before descending down a variety of trails on the resort mountain biking runs, or make your way down to the adrenaline-pleasing Ginto trail for some pump & flow track style action.
Niseko Village Farms
Busy in the summer and autumn, and for good reason - the areas surrounding Niseko Village host such crowd-pleasers as Prativo restaurant (with one of the best buffet lunches in the region), Milk Kobo (for incredibly fresh and creamy yogurt drinks, choux cream, and cheese cakes) and some delightful souvenir shops.
Located behind Prativo, why not visit in August and September when the sunflowers are in full bloom. The rolling fields of yellow make for excellent social media subjects, and you can even take some home with you!
Shinsen Numa & Local Wetlands
Shinsen numa is stunning in the autumn months. Venture out with a certified NAC nature guide or explore for yourself a winding expanse of boardwalk-covered wetlands, teeming with plant and animal-life.
Enjoy a nature-walks on stilts, following the paths from trees to pool to trail, and take in the dazzling colours of the fall, before they go into hiding once more for the winter.