The phosphate concentration in mountainous stream water can be a measure of the forest condition, because its concentration will be low when the biomass in the forest is increasing and vice versa when the forest is declining. To investigate the seasonal change in the dissolved phosphate concentration of the mountainous stream water of the Yamakami River, Kitakyushu, from June 2009 to August 2010, and the regulation mechanism of the phosphate concentration, solid-phase spectrophotometry, which can be applicable to natural water without any pretreatment procedures, was employed for the determination of phosphate at μg P L−1 levels in natural water. The phosphate concentrations in the mountainous stream waters at 6 sites ranged from 2.2 to 13 μg P L−1, and those from the catchment area of the steady state forest were 5.3 ± 1.6 (±1 SD) μg P L−1. Changes in the concentration were fairly small even during a storm runoff. The average phosphate concentration of rain was 2.8 ± 0.7 μg P L−1, about half of the concentration in the stream water. The rate of runoff in forest areas is generally considered to be about 50% of the total precipitation. For a forest under a climax condition, the phosphate concentration is estimated to be regulated by the fallout and evapotranspiration (α = 0.05). At one of the sites, an upstream tributary, where a fairly big landslide occurred before July in 2009, the phosphate concentration was the highest, suggesting that the biomass may still be decreasing. For all of the six sites examined, a characteristic seasonal change in phosphate concentration was observed, reflecting the local budget between the biological decomposition of plant matter and the consumption by the biomass. The increase in the phosphate concentration during late spring and early summer may result from the extensive decomposition of plant litter mainly supplied in autumn and of plant matter relating to spring blooming such as fallen flowers, pollen and immature fruits. The proposed method using the phosphate concentration in surface stream waters without the period of the seasonal change mentioned above is expected to be very helpful in diagnosing the condition of forests.