September 28, 12 | Gakkun
The clean, clear air of Hokkaido. Magnificent autumn foliage. The nostalgic sound of a steam train's whistle. Gourmet meals, recreation and hot springs! All this and more await you along the Shiribeshi Line this fall. Climb aboard the steam train and enjoy autumn in Niseko!
Autumn in Hokkaido really kicks off in September and October. The mountains and forests change to vivid purples, reds and yellows. The clear sky, distant clouds, rich and vibrant nature provide beautiful scenery for outdoor adventurers. Hokkaido's Niseko Steam Train provides a relaxing tour of the outskirts of Niseko, and the area’s beautiful fall colors. The trip includes beautiful scenery, of course, but on top of that it also features the bounty of the autumn harvest. Fresh fruits, potatoes and many other treats from the fertile Hokkaido countryside. It's sure to fill up any traveler's belly.
A round trip on the Niseko Steam Train departs from Sapporo Station and passes through Otaru, Yoichi, Niki, Ozawa, Kutchan, Niseko, Konbu and Rankoshi. The entire ride is designed to give passengers the best Hokkaido autumn experience possible.
One of the highlights of the ride is the scenic views you can catch just outside the window. The train line takes you through mountain ranges and forests, with perhaps the best part of the ride being between Kutchan and Niseko. Along this section of track you can view Mt. Yotei, (also called "Ezo Fuji") a symbol of this area, as well as Mt. Annupuri, which marks the beginning of the Niseko mountain range. You can also enjoy viewing the crystal clear waters of the Shiribestu River. The scenery of this area is sure to fill any visitor with awe.
Beautiful fall view of Mt. Yotei and the Shiribetsu River.
After arriving in Niseko, passengers have about three hours before the return train arrives, giving them ample opportunity to enjoy the local sights. Currently in Niseko you can explore the "Niseko Festival" event taking place. At the festival you can enjoy many types of food and various activities. My recommendation is to try out the guided Niseko nature walk. Enjoy the fresh air in Arishima Memorial Park and take beautiful photographs of unbelievable scenery on this two hour walk. As an added bonus for riding the steam train, each passenger will receive a ticket for the hot spring located just next to Niseko station. The perfect place to wash off and relax after a walk around the park. There are many other activities to enjoy, including canoeing and of course the pre-set menu of freshly harvested veggies is something to look forward to throughout your visit.
Photographs from the nature walk.
Of course you can also explore the other stations along the way. You'll have the opportunity to try Gousetsu Udon ("Heavy Snow" noodles) in Kutchan, or visit hot springs and take in the spectacular view of Mt. Yotei while soaking in the hot water. The trip offers plenty of activities, so that each visit is unique and tailored specifically for the visitor.
On top of all that, the steam train itself has several additions to make the ride as enjoyable as possible. There is a car that contains a sweets shop for those passengers with a sweet tooth. Car number two is a cafe offering a variety of treats and drinks. There is also a "be the conductor" activity for kids, where they are allowed to experience the various jobs it takes to run a train. After each activity they receive a stamp and once they collect them all they get a prize! It’s the perfect way for parents and children to both enjoy their ride.
Tunnel Mochi (a pounded rice treat)
The Niseko steam train is only in service during the autumn months; this year it runs from September 9th to November 4th. For a reserved seat on the steam train, and an unlimited area pass at each of the stops, be sure to pick up the special "Niseko Steam Train Leisure Ticket" which is 3,600 Yen. It's a great and inexpensive way to enjoy fall and experience a variety of activities.
Of course, these tracks are also used for regular train transport, so you don't have to ride the steam train to visit the area. If you want to stay for more than a day consider purchasing a regular train ticket for your trip!
※ All photographs were provided by the sponser.
(Hokkaido Likers Writer - Gakkun)
● Contact Information
○ The Nisko Steam Train
JR Hokkaido Call Center
TEL: 011-222-7111 (6:30-10:00)
○ The Niseko Festival
Niseko Festival Executive Committee