Cherry Blossoms, Fall Colors and Snow

Hokkaido has cold snowy winters and warm, non-humid summers. Winters run from November to April and summers July to early September.

Spring

Cherry blossoms open in Hakodate around Golden Week at the end of April, and Goryokaku Park in Hakodate city and Matsumae Castle, Matsumae are popular viewing areas. Sapporo cherry usually comes a week later in the first/second week of April, with Maruyama Park, Sapporo and the 5 km Sakura Avenue at Shizunai, east of Tomakomai the most crowded sakura spots. Then the cherry front moves north and east, so that in late May and even June wild cherry can be seen on the mountains.

Summer

Daytime temperatures average 25 C, but recent years have seen August peaks of 30 C plus. Unlike other parts of Japan it's far less humid and many public places and homes do not have air  conditioning. A light jacket may be needed at night.

Fall

Mid-September the trees in the Taisetsu Mountains are beginning to change color. Average daytime temperatures are 18 C, nightime 10 C. Famous places for fall colors are: Late September: Sounkyou, Asahidake, Tokachidake, Shiretoko. Early October: Sapporo, Jozankei, Niseko, Hidaka. Mid-October: Noboribetsu, Lake Toya, Oonuma, Hakodate.

Track the fall colors on Weather News Japan website Weather News , if you click on the leaf symbol cenetr right of the top page, and then on the map you can check the fall colors progress across Hokkaido.

Winter

FIrst, settling snowfall in downtown Sapporo is early/mid December. But north and east Hokkaido gets snow November onwards. Roads are icy after 4 pm. Ski areas officially open around November 21, although in recent years this is often later. Onze ski area at Zenibako, near Teine has artificial snow machines. Skiing continues until Golden week, with Kokusai, Kiroro and Furano being the best bets for decent spring snow. December to March daytime temperatures in Sapporo are about 3 C, nightime Minus 4 C. North and east Hokkaido are much colder: Shiretoko, Sounkyou, Asahikawa, Lake Akan, Kushiro. Ski areas can reach minus 10-15 C on the top courses.