Located up on Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido’s largest accommodation complex; Hoshino Resorts Tomamu, is home to a view that can only be described as witnessing heaven on earth – the unkai – or as it translates into English ‘a Sea of Clouds’.

This phenomenon can only be seen under certain atmospheric conditions, and with the resort’s viewing platforms, known as the ‘Unkai Terrace’, being placed at an elevation of 1088 meters, it makes for the perfect location to watch the clouds roll over the Japanese mountains like an endless heavenly wave.

Before the terrace opened, Tomamu’s unkai was only a familiar sight to the summer gondola maintenance staff, but after opening in 2006, Hoshino Resort Tomamu’s Unkai Terrace has become an extremely popular attraction in the area. During the fall of last year alone, 1.2 million people came to the resort for the view from Unkai Terrace.
As it’s popularity continues to grow, Hoshino Resort Tomamu has decided to renew the ‘Minato viewing deck’ with the aim of bringing the dynamic sea of clouds closer than ever before.

The renewal will see the deck protrude out into the clouds more than ever. It will make you feel as though you are floating in the air, and riding upon a sea of clouds that is flowing so close that you could simply reach out and touch it.

The deck will also play the base to a three story building, which the top floor, with a height of 12m, will give an even wider view of the unkai, the Hidaka Mountains and the morning sunshine.
Inside, a glass-enclosed cafe will welcome visitors with their signature ‘Unkai Coffee’ topped with cloud shaped marshmallows, and their ‘Unkai Soda’ which is covered in fluffy cloud-like cotton candy. As the weather can be uncertain, these drinks will be the perfect way to spend an hour or two whilst waiting for the unkai to show itself.

The renewed terrace is expected to open from August 2021. Aside from the renewal, the other decks are open and will remain open until the end of the unkai viewing season in October.
To get the best view of unkai it’s best to reach the terrace early, as you can never be certain of how long it will take for the fog to clear or for the clouds to make an appearance. To accommodate this, the gondolas run from around 4:30am to 7:00am every day. It is also important to remember that there has to be certain atmospheric conditions for the sea of clouds to make an appearance, and sometimes these conditions just don’t happen. But, unkai or not, the panoramic view of the Hidaka mountains and the valley below is more than worth a visit to the viewing deck.

The Unkai Terrace consists of several different viewing decks, a ‘cloud walk’ and a cafe. It is open not only to staying guests, but also to general visitors.

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu Unkai Terrace Information

Address: Tomamu, Azanaka, Shimukappu-mura, Yufutsu-gun, Hokkaido
Visiting times (vary by season): 4:30am – 8:00am
Season: Mid-May – End of October

Adults: 1,900 yen
Children: 1,200 yen

By - Connie Sceaphierde.