What's the Weather like in Hokkaido in September
After the sharp decrease in temps towards the end of August, Hokkaido finally welcomes autumn in September. This is a lovely month to discover Hokkaido, as the big summer crowds have long gone and the entire island brims with fabulous autumn colours. The weather this month can be quite erratic as the typhoon season, which usually batters down Japan's southern isles, (Like Anjo) comes to a slow end. Daily average temps this month are 18°C, yet highs of 22°C (and at times even higher) are quite usual in the first two weeks, as summer tries its best to still linger on. Night-time lows of 14°C are the norm for the first half of the month, but you will experience a definite decease in overall temps as September wears on, especially in the early morning.
The fog and humidity tend to be still present in the coastal region, which is where Hokkaido receives most if its September rainfall (171mm). Nevertheless, although strong storms can be expected, they are usually followed by crystal clear skies for a few days. A total of 5°C hours of daily sunshine make for rewarding days out in the countryside, and sea temps of 21°C could make for some lovely dips, however the chilly above-surface air may also make them rather short.
Hokkaido Hotels in April
To take in the best of Hokkaido in September, head straight for Sounkyo and book a few nights' stay at the splendid Hotel Taisetsu, an authentic onsen establishment which is often used by touring overseas groups. The service is impeccable, three on-site baths a true luxury and little touches make it a delightful choice. The buffet dinner and breakfast offer some truly delectable Japanese specialties. The views, from this hilltop hotel, are simply amazing!
Mount View Hotel
Although this is one of the more expensive choices in Sounkyo it is by no means prohibitive, yet cheaper rates can also be scored at the nearby Mount View Hotel. Your room rate includes western-style breakfast and Japanese dinner, and makes it one of the best value-for-money choices in the region. A wing of this hotel has recently been refurbished, so do ask specifically for a room in the new section. With recently installed Wi-Fi and a beautiful indoor/outdoor onsen, this hotel offers all the comfort you'll ever need at only a fraction of the price of all other hotels here. If you're travelling on a budget, rest assured that this will be a great option for you.
Bars and Restaurants
Delectable meals are all part and parcel of the ryokan experience in Japan, and considering a large majority of traditional inns are found on Hokkaido you'll be very wise to book your stay in an inn or onsen hotel during your visit. As it is, you'll be very hard pressed to find an onsen hotel which does not include meals within its accommodation rates, as this is actually what the whole experience is all about. Although the hotel restaurants do tend to be the highest rated in all the towns of central Hokkaido, there are a few great exceptions if you want a change of (food) scenery, although this is true mainly of lunch time meals.
Near both the Sounkyo and Asahidake cable car stations you will find cheap and cheerful eateries which offer delectable soup and rice bowls for breakfast and lunch. Both town centres also boast 7-11 type supermarkets which sell ready-made snacks and a plethora of instant noodle bowls which you can eat on the go or take back to your hotel room. The latter are particularly tasty actually and better than anything you could ever dream of finding back home.
Things to do in Hokkaido in September
The volcanic activity boosts the thermal activity in the region, and it is here that you can indulge in some fantastic steamy bathing. Within the park's range you'll find four lovely hot spa resorts, namely Asahidake, Tenninkyo, Fukiafe and Sounkyo. The latter is a particularly popular destination, as it is also boasts a very striking gorge, which you can view in its full glory thanks to a ropeway cable-car ride up to the top of Mt Kurodake.
The Sounkyo Gorge is actually a series of gorges which are striking to say the least, and framed by 150m walls of volcanic rock-face. Home to various waterfalls and exquisite alpine scenery, it is a hub of frenzied activity in September, as this is the last month where tourists flock en masse before the snow sets in. Although much of the gorge is nowadays inaccessible due to severe rock falls, you can still drive up to the main car park and enjoy a 3km long walk to the mouth of the gorge, from where you can absorb the enormity of the valley and sight of the two stunning waterfalls on each side of the canyon.
Alternatively, you can take a 7 minute long cable car ride right in Sounkyo Onsen centre, and reach the first base up Mt Kurodake. Do this on a crystal clear autumn day and your reward will be rather awesome. Not only are the mountain tops brimming with wild flowers at this time of year still, but the breathtaking and sweeping views are simply spectacular. You could spend at least an hour up here, and then hop on yet another chair lift for an unforgettable 15 minute ride atop luscious forests. Do beware that the chair lift rides cease at 4pm in September, so head here at about lunchtime to have plenty of time to take it all in or, better still, be up and early for the first 6.50am ride and you could skip the crowds altogether. You can download a detailed English brochure from this website.