No need to hike to experience the breathtaking sea of clouds atop mountains where one can feel like he’s on top of the world, even higher than the clouds!

There is a breathtaking spot in Hoshino Resorts Tomamu where you can see unkai (sea of clouds) just by taking a gondola. Japanese as well as foreign visitors come to visit during the peak season to enjoy this fantastic phenomenon that is unique to Hokkaido!

UNKAI TERRACE: Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
北海道勇払郡占冠村字中トマム
Shimukappu-mura Yufutsu-gun, Hokkaido, Japan
Landline: +81 167-58-1111
Website: https://www.snowtomamu.jp

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You can visit Unkai Terrace as a day trip. However, if you don’t want to wake up so early in the morning, I strongly recommend staying at one of the hotels on their property to make things easier.

It is easily accessible via a 13-minute gondola ride. If you stay in Hoshino, they give you 2 complimentary tickets per room. (You can buy extra tickets at the station.) I loved how it was very accessible. Yup, I saw toddlers and even grandparents at the top!

Tip: Make sure to check the weather conditions online or on TV before you go to the shuttle bus stop for gondola operations.

Did you know that if you go up early in the morning during this season, there is only a 40% chance you’ll see an unkai flowing over Mt. Hidaka and Mt. Tokach in Tomamu. We felt super lucky that day because it was drizzling for the first two days of our trip, and we didn’t expect the weather to clear up on the most important day of our itinerary when all weather conditions needed to be perfect!

 

We arrived at the gondola station at around 4:30 am on a Saturday. Since it was a weekend, a queue had already formed.

Four people could fit in the gondola. Up we went, reaching an altitude of  1,088m where we actually passed through clouds on our way up. And when the gondola broke through the clouds into the clear blue sky, that moment was just breathtaking!

 

It felt like we were on top of the world!!!

You could see the excitement in everyone’s face! This was definitely one of the best experiences of my life!

 

One of the unique features of Unkai Terrace is its architecture—created and decorated in such a way that it makes one feel like he or she is walking above the clouds. Among my favorites were…

The Cloud Walk, a cloud-shaped walkway protruding from the slope. I guess you could now say you’ve experienced walking on clouds!

 

These steel chairs give an amazing view from the top! Be brave and climb up this ladder, I promise you the view will be worth it!

 

The Cloud Pool, a huge hammock above the clouds. There’s no question you’ll be amazed by the view no matter where you stand!

There were also a rest area and a cafe at the terrace, where one could enjoy a cup of hot coffee or cocoa paired with their cute cloud-shaped marshmallows and the view!

 

This rare phenomenon could only be enjoyed early morning from mid-May to early autumn. The experience itself was heavenly and would leave you in awe, totally worth the sacrifice of sleeping and queuing at the gondola station. You can still get fantastic views on sunny days so don’t give up!  I hope you get a fantastic view of the sea of clouds on the day of your visit!

 


STAYCATION at RISONARE Tomamu

If you don’t want to wake up super early, you can opt to stay at one of the hotels in the resort. For our group, we stayed at RISONARE Tomamu Resort. What sets Risonare apart from the rest of the hotels is the sheer size of their suites. An all-suite hotel, they have excellent suites for big families that can fit up to six guests all in one room. What’s even more impressive is that the rooms are equipped with a jet bath/sauna with scenic views.

 

Other perks for hotel guests:
– Unkai Terrace Gondola tickets as well as the priority queue.
– Other great months to visit the Magical Ice Village available during winter with igloos at the foot of the mountain in winter. (Furthermore, there are an ice restaurant, an ice bar serving food and drinks and a dessert buffet too!)
– Fun at a farm.
– Mina-Mina Beach, Japan’s large indoor beach and indoor wave pool that can be enjoyed by guests and visitors alike.

 

DINNER at the Buffet Dining Hal

For dinner, we had one of the grandest meals we’ve eaten in Hokkaido. We actually wished we ate like this every day.

If there’s one thing you can’t miss when visiting Hokkaido, it’s their seafood! Fatty salmon and tuna, sweet hairy and king crab and amazing squid sashimi are among the things tourists from Japan and overseas always rave about when in Hokkaido. The cold sea surrounding Hokkaido is rich in plankton, which helps produce high-quality delectable seafood, while the cold temperatures also help with building layers of fat for the fish.

 

Among the dishes you must absolutely try at the buffet are the king and queen crabs! Make sure to dip them in the local vinegar.

 

The beef teppanyaki was also the star for that night. Perfectly cooked and very juicy.

 

The sashimi scallops, salmon, salmon roe and hand-rolled sushi were superb. Very fatty and delicious.

 

For dessert, the unkai inspired soft cream was a must!

Price: [Dinner] Adult ¥5,500 / Child(age 7-12) ¥4,000 / Child(age 4-6) ¥2,800

 


HOW TO GET THERE:

Please check site for reference: https://www.snowtomamu.jp/unkai_terrace/en/#access

By car:  2 hours and 40 minutes by car from Sapporo. It’s a 1-hour and 40-minute drive on the Doto Expressway and then a 60-minute drive from Furano via Route 38.

By train & bus: Japan Railways Limited Express operates a train from Tomamu Station to Sapporo every 2 hours. Tickets cost ¥‎ 3709 – ¥‎ 5000, and the journey takes 1h 46m. Alternatively, you can take a bus from Tomamu Station to Sapporo via Hoshino Resorts Tomamu the Tower and New Chitose Airport International Terminal in around 3h 33m.

 

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING:
-Check the website for good weather.
-Gondola prices are ‎¥‎ 1,900/ adult.
-Bring a heavy jacket, it gets very cold up there. (It was 1 °C when we visited.)
-Unkai terrace is only open from mid-May to the end of October. During the period, you can ride on the gondola which runs from around 4:30 A.M. to 7:00 A.M. The last gondola goes down at 8:00 A.M.

 

UNKAI TERRACE: Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
北海道勇払郡占冠村字中トマム
Shimukappu-mura Yufutsu-gun, Hokkaido, Japan
Landline: +81 167-58-1111
Website: https://www.snowtomamu.jp

 

RELATED ARTICLE:
HOKKAIDO AUTUMN: Awesome Itinerary!

 

Live an Awesome Life,

ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet

Disclosure: We were media guests of Japan National Tourism Organization. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions and insights.