Autumn Colours In Spring?
Hokkaido is likely one of the only places in the world where you can see spring and autumn at the same time!
Spring is a time where everything bursts into beautiful green life, right? Well, yes and no. In some countries and regions in the northern hemisphere a unique phenomenon occurs at the start of the spring season. Here in Hokkaido, this phenomenon is very pronounced and an incredible duality is born.
You might be driving through Niseko in early May and suddenly come to wonder if time skipped and you missed a season or two! Don't be alarmed! Those orange and red colours you are seeing among the forests are supposed to happen. Here in Niseko, we are fortunate to experience autumn in spring, but only for a short time.
The best part about this phenomenon occurring, is that you get a chance to experience multiple seasons all in one go! Winter still hasn't ended at the tops of the mountains, spring is bursting forth heralded by the pink cherry blossoms, and autumn is blazing along the tree tops due to this amazing natural occurence!
Why do some trees display autumn colours in spring?
The reason that tree leaves turn yellow, orange, and red in autumn is due to the chlorophyll in the leaves starting to break down. Remember learning about this in elementary school or junior high school? Plants create chlorophyll through the photosynthesis process where they soak up energy from the sun and use it to create nutrients out of water and carbon dioxide.
In colder climates, where the temperatures can fluctuate between hot and cold the photosynthesis process can get thrown into a bit of a loop. As the tree leaves start to burst forth, they cold and cloudy days can slow the photosynthesis process leaving the newly forming leaves somewhat starved of chlorophyll. This causes their colour to drain and they can appear yellow and orange even though they should be green!
This period doesn't last long, it typically only occurs for a couple of weeks during the start of May and is highly dependent on the weather conditions.