In Japan, every season provides fresh incentive to celebrate nature. Hokkaido winter is of course synonymous with the famous Sapporo Snow Festival; spring heralds cherry blossoms; summer is perfect for beach barbecues; and fall brings the changing leaves.


Despite my futile wish for mild weather to continue indefinitely, autumn has quickly swept over the prefecture, and as the temperature drops, we may as well warm our spirits with the beauty outside.


When my parents visited me in early October, I showed them around Sapporo, one day whisking them through Maruyama Park to the grand, 140+ year old Hokkaido Shrine.
I had visited the shrine in every other season, but I didn’t expect that fall would be my favorite. The lush forest surrounding the main shrine turned all shades of yellow, red, brown and green, and dusk gave the landscape a mysterious glow.

Although we visited just before closing time at 5pm, there was still much to see, including the beginning of a wedding procession, and some adorable children making their shichigosan* shrine visit in traditional clothing. Not to mention there are food stalls along the main road, and a Rokkatei tea room for your sweets craving!


Hokkaido Shrine and Maruyama Park are well-publicized destinations within the city, but I think it never hurts to appreciate them anew. They are only a few minutes’ subway ride from Odori Park, yet once you arrive, you feel as if you’ve entered a calm woodland sanctuary. I suggest stopping by soon if you wish to glimpse the colorful leaves before they fall and snow covers the shrine. That said, no matter what time of year you visit, there’s always something to enjoy.
* Shichigosan is a celebration for children who turn seven (shichi), five (go), or three (san) years old. Typically a mid-November event, it is observed as early as October in Hokkaido.