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Unkai Terrace: Where to Enjoy the Extraordinary Sea of Clouds in Hokkaido

Seas of clouds – known as unkai in Japanese – are layers of clouds or mist viewed from above. Unkai Terrace in Hokkaido is one of the most popular of these places to visit!

So how do unkai form? They are a natural occurrence that happens under certain circumstances, but when it occurs, it is truly an amazing sight to behold. There are various types of seas of clouds in Japan, such as mist above the ocean or a lake, or fogs created by humid air on low grounds being pushed up the mountainside by winds.

Hokkaido has a large landmass and is surrounded by an ocean – so this means there are a number of areas where you can see a sea of clouds!

Unkai Terrace Has Many Viewing Spots

Unkai Terrace is an observation spot in Hokkaido’s largest scale resort “Hoshino Resorts Tomamu” in Shimukappu Village. It is one of the major viewing spots in Hokkaido for Japan clouds and, in the autumn of 2018, Unkai Terrace has attracted over 1 million people since they had opened 13 years ago.

Clouds in Japan: Pacific Ocean Unkai in Hokkaido

The reason behind its popularity is that you can view 3 types of unkai. The “Pacific Ocean Unkai” can be seen when the eastern part of Hokkaido is covered with high pressure and sea fog is generated, the “Tomamu Unkai” is seen when the Tomamu area is covered with high pressure, and radiative cooling occurs, and the “Bad Weather Unkai” is seen when the weather is bad or is about to become bad.

Tomamu Unkai in Hokkaido

Bad Weather Unkai in Hokkaido

Hokkaido’s sea of clouds can be seen from mid-May to mid-October and has a 40% chance of occurrence. At the Hoshino Resorts Tomamu website, you can see the next day unkai forecast.

Another charm is that they have various spots where you can view the sea of clouds as if you are one with nature. Based on the Cloud 9 plan that suggests 9 ways to enjoy unkai, they have produced the Cloud Pool and Cloud Walk.

Japan clouds: Cloud Pool in Hokkaido

Cloud Walk in Hokkaido

In July 2019, the 6th plan, the Cloud Bar opened. Sitting on the 3m tall chair, you can get a magnificent view of the dynamic unkai and mountains down below.

Cloud Bar in Hokkaido

Unkai Terrace
Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU ,Naka-Tomamu,Shimukappu,Yufutsu,Hokkaido 〒079-2204
Business Period: Mid-May – mid-October (May 11th to October 14th for 2019)
Hours: May 11th – May 31st, 5:00 a.m. – 7:00 a.m.
   June 1st – October 14th 5:00 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. (Excluding September 1st – September 30th)
   September 1st – September 30th 4:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m.
*For 2019. Times include the final gondola going up
Fee: Adult 1,900 yen, elementary school student 1,200 yen, pet 500 yen (available to resort guests and day trip customers)
*Pet requires cages
Access: about 10 minutes on the shuttle bus from JR Tomamu Station
Home page:
Phone: 0167-58-1111 (Hoshino Resorts Tomamu representative)

5 Observation Decks to View Unkai from Lake Mashu and Lake Kussharo

Akan-Mashu National Park that spans over 1 city and 10 towns including Akan and Mashu is the most historical national park in Hokkaido. The caldera lake, Lake Mashu, and Lake Kussharo are the two most popular tourist spots that represent the area.

From June to October, the area can be covered in mist that drifts from the Pacific Ocean in the south; if the conditions are right you can see the unkai sea of clouds in Hokkaido.

View of the unkai from Tsubetsu Pass Observatory

Lake Kussharo’s caldera is the largest in Japan, the outer ring has 4 observation decks, which provides a unique view of the sea of clouds. Tsubetsu Pas…

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