Chasing the Unkai in Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

View of Hoshino Resort from Mt. Tomamu

It’s been my dream to see the Unkai in Japan. Funny to admit but the dream is kind of big. In fact, I’d been hopeful and “redundant” about it that whenever I talk to someone from Hokkaido, the conversation would involve something like this,

I wanna see the Unkai” 
“The what?” 
“Un-kai” 
“Un..?” 
“Hmm… Unkai… the sea of clouds?” 
“Ahh Unkai!”...

Most Japanese wouldn’t get what I mean till I utter the words sea-of-clouds. But it doesn’t matter, does it? Because finally, I got to chase the Unkai in Hokkaido!

This Silver Week, I and Hiropi traveled to Hokkaido with lists of places to visit. Among the sightseeing spots is the Unkai Terrace in Tomamu.

The Unkai Terrace is part of the Hoshino Resorts, the deemed most expensive resort hotel in Hokkaido. Our hotel is not as expensive as Hoshino Resorts Hotel but already good. I like our hotel, Gracee Tomamu, and I will make a separate post dedicated to our stay there.

Back to "Unkai", I learned that seeing this phenomenon heavily relies on special climatic conditions. It is best seen in the early morning and again, depends on the weather...

 The cloud sea can be closely observed — and almost touched — because Unkai Terrace elevation of 1088 meters is a perfect altitude to encounter this phenomenon. You’ll be astounded as the cloud sea rolls over the mountains of the region, like a panoramic Japanese scroll painting.” (cooljapan.com)

Took a snap before we left... the bicycles were in the bicycle parking on the far left... it's dark haha

To experience the Unkai, we woke up at 3:40 AM and cycled a pitch-dark path for more than 40 minutes. We used the free road bicycles from our hotel. The cold breeze almost left my hands numb but invigorated the rest of my senses (partly due to the smell of the alpines and wildflowers).

Around the Hoshino Resorts area, I and Hiropi parked our bicycles and headed to the rope way station. We took a gondola to get to the top of Mt. Tomamu where the Unkai Terrace is situated. The fare was 3000 JPY for a two-way ride and comes with a Post Card you can send anywhere in the world for free.

At the terrace, we braced the freezing temperature. Some visitors were drinking hot coffee while waiting for the sunrise. Viewers can buy coffee or breakfast at reasonable price either at the small cafe in the Ropeway station or at the viewing deck. We weren't hungry because prolly it was too early so we just stood there in bated breath, hopeful to witness the rolling sea of clouds. But firstly we were greeted by the Majestic sunrise.

Here are some photos I took:


a couple and the sea of clouds... i just got this photo from cooljapan.com

unkai! photo from cooljapan.com

This is the Hoshino Resorts view if the Unkai embrace the place ... Photo is from snowtomamu.jp

The rays of the sun slowly gleamed over the place until everything was golden. There wasn't much clouds...

My thoughts are filled with many things including a curious way of articulating the cloud appearance but none relating to resentment. Our effort to go there wasn't futile. Personally, I wasn't saddened by the missed Unkai experience because the sunrise from the peak of the mountain and the view of the vast landscape were equally stunning. I'm still grateful and rather honored to see such spectacular creation.

My chase for the sea of clouds doesn't end here. In fact, it's just begun. And I'll try my luck, next time, maybe in Mt. Ulap!


Have you seen a sea of clouds before? Must be exhilarating to see them stream right in front of you. I hope to hear about your thoughts down the comment section below.

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About the Author

Erica Poyauan manages a few web pages including The Girl with the Muji Hat. Coffee, rain & a Sonata for Piano and Violin are three things that let her conquer sporadic blog apathy. Aside from being a supermom, Erica is a beginner boxing student, a bathroom singer and a tree advocate.

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