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Hokkaido's Renovated Cloud-Viewing 'Unkai Terrace' Brings You To The Sky's Edge, Has 'Cloud Cafe'

Hokkaido's Renovated Cloud-Viewing 'Unkai Terrace' Brings You To The Sky's Edge, Has 'Cloud Cafe'

Date published: 18 August 2021

On August 4, 2021, Unkai Terrace, a popular observation deck in Hokkaido's Hoshino Resorts Tomamu, underwent renovations to expand the deck even deeper into the clouds than before.

The name means "Sea of Clouds Terrace," and when the weather conditions are right, you can indeed see a sea of clouds unfold right before your eyes. The new observation deck lets you get closer to the clouds than ever before.

There's even a cafe where you can enjoy sweets and drinks while looking out over the spectacular view of the sky. Introducing the new and improved Unkai Terrace!

Table of Contents
  1. Hoshino Resorts Tomamu: A Mountain Resort Only 2 Hours from Sapporo!
  2. Unkai: A World in the Sky Surrounded By a Sea of Clouds
  3. The Secret Behind the Birth of Unkai Terrace
  4. 1. An Observation Deck Where You Can Reach Out and Touch the Clouds!
  5. 2. Three Different "Seas" that Change with the Weather
  6. 3. Cloud Cafe: Enjoy Cloud-themed Sweets... in the Clouds!
  7. An Experience You Won't Find on the Ground Awaits

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu: A Mountain Resort Only 2 Hours from Sapporo!

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu: A Mountain Resort Only 2 Hours from Sapporo!
One of the best mountain resorts in Hokkaido!

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu is a mountain resort located in Shimukappu Village in the central part of Hokkaido.

Spanning an area of about 1,000 hectares, there are a variety of activities you can enjoy throughout the year, including Unkai Terrace's spectacular summer view, and the Tomamu Ice Village's winter sports.

From Sapporo, it's about 100 minutes by limited express train or 120 minutes if you're taking the highway. From New Chitose Airport, it's about 90 minutes by limited express or 100 minutes by highway. The rich, green scenery welcomes you!

Unkai: A World in the Sky Surrounded By a Sea of Clouds

Unkai: A World in the Sky Surrounded By a Sea of Clouds
A work of art created by nature

The "unkai," or "sea of clouds," is a natural phenomenon that occurs when fog or stratus clouds form through radiative cooling, causing the clouds to take the shape of a vast sea in the sky.

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu's Unkai Terrace is located at an altitude of 1,088 meters and offers a stunning view of the unkai, the Hidaka Mountains, and the sun rising up from behind the mountains.

The Secret Behind the Birth of Unkai Terrace

The Secret Behind the Birth of Unkai Terrace
An idea from a gondola maintenance staff member takes shape

One summer, one of the gondola maintenance staff members came up with a great idea. They realized that though the sea of clouds, visible only from dawn to early morning, and only from spring to autumn, was a familiar sight to the staff, visitors rarely experienced it.

The staff eagerly suggested: what if more people could see such a wonderful sight? They opened up to the public in 2005, and the sea of clouds quickly became a hot topic. In 2006, Unkai Terrace was born.

Cloud Pool: like a hammock above the clouds!

Since the 2017 opening of Cloud Pool, an observation deck resembling a hammock in the sky, the number of visitors to Unkai Terrace has rapidly increased, reaching 1.2 million in the fall of 2020.

So let's take a look at the three points that have recently undergone renovations!

1. An Observation Deck Where You Can Reach Out and Touch the Clouds!

1. An Observation Deck Where You Can Reach Out and Touch the Clouds!
The renovated three-story observation deck

This observation deck has been renovated into a three-story building about 12 meters high, and can now accommodate up to 900 visitors - about five times as many as before! It protrudes straight out into the clouds, leaving you feeling as if you're floating through the white waves.

2. Three Different "Seas" that Change with the Weather

There are three different kinds of "Seas of Clouds" that you may see in Tomamu.

Pacific Ocean Sea of Clouds

The Pacific Ocean Sea of Clouds, gushing like a waterfall

The "Pacific Ocean Sea of Clouds," which looks like a gushing waterfall, can only be seen when eastern Hokkaido experiences high pressure, and weak, eastern winds blow from night to morning.

Tomamu Sea of Clouds

The Tomamu Sea of Clouds, enveloping "The Tower"

For the Tomamu Sea of Clouds, the early morning temperature at the mountain summit must be higher than that at the foot of the mountain, causing a low sea of clouds to form. When this happens, The Tower may become fully engulfed in the sea of clouds!

Bad Weather Sea of Clouds

There's even a sea of clouds you can see when the weather is bad!

The "Bad Weather Sea of Clouds" is a phenomenon in which the stratus clouds that cling to the mountains expand into a "sea" of clouds in such a way that they overlap. You'll often see this formation on bad-weather days caused by approaching fronts and low-pressure systems.

3. Cloud Cafe: Enjoy Cloud-themed Sweets... in the Clouds!

3. Cloud Cafe: Enjoy Cloud-themed Sweets... in the Clouds!
Enjoy Cloud-Shaped Sweets in the Clouds

Overlook the magnificent view of Tomamu from the large glass window of the newly opened Cloud Cafe.

The entire menu offers cloud-themed sweets, including the Cloud Soft Cream (600 yen, including tax), lemon and vanilla Cloud Macaroons (700 yen, including tax), and the double-layered Unkai Au Lait, made with milk and butterfly pea to resemble the blue sky and the sea of clouds (600 yen, including tax).

Enjoy these whimsical cloud-shaped designs as you relax indoors on the couch.

An Experience You Won't Find on the Ground Awaits

An Experience You Won't Find on the Ground Awaits

The newly-renovated Unkai Terrace now offers an amazing view of the magnificent mountains on a clear day, and an expansive sea of clouds in the morning. From the moment you step off the gondola, you'll be fascinated by a view unlike any you've ever seen from the ground!

*Photos courtesy of Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

Health and Safety Measures
Disinfection, sterilization, and cleaning of store interior and equipment / disinfectant installed / disinfected after each customer / in-store ventilation measures in place / Staff wear masks, wash hands, use disinfectant, gargle, and monitor body temperature / Customers requested to wear masks

Accommodation for Foreign Visitors
English-speaking staff available. Information boards also available in foreign languages.

Text by: Masakazu
Information in this article as of August 2021. Please see official website for the latest updates.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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