Hokkaido is one of the most visited prefectures aside from Tokyo and Osaka. Each season, you will witness a great landscape of Hokkaido, especially during winter when the streets are carpeted in white snow powder. Tucked away in the northern part of Japan, Hokkaido is one of the largest populated prefecture and the second biggest island behind Honshu.
With Sapporo as its capital, tourists require an ample of time to explore Hokkaido’s every bit of wonders. Let’s forget about all the popular destinations and start focusing on other places that are worth travelling to such as in Tomamu. In case some of you might not know this, the best ski resorts in Hokkaido is in actually in Tomamu. Although it’s situated quite far off the city, people will still come to Tomamu to experience winter and do snow-related activities.
The best attraction in Tomamu is none other than Unkai Terrace. Why?
Image Source: Is Japan Cool?
Located in between two mountains of Mount Hidaka and Mount Tokachi, Unkai Terrace offers its visitors a once in a lifetime experience from 1,100 meters above sea level. Unkai is a Japanese word for ‘a sea of clouds’, which is why it’s called Unkai Terrace. The place is literally swarming with clouds during peak hours and the view from atop is drop dead gorgeous. Best time to visit? From May until October. Plan your trip to Tomamu wisely so you won’t miss this phenomenon as it doesn’t happen frequently.
Unkai Terrace was opened in 2006 and since then, the place has attracted over 100,000 visitors all over the world, thus, making it the symbol of Hokkaido.
To get to the top, you need to take a gondola lift from Hoshino Resorts Tomamu. The journey will take around 13 minutes and the view is shockingly beautiful. In addition, the gondola lift operates from 4:30AM until 7:00PM. Should you plan to take the early morning ride, layer up because it is very cold even during the summer. In case of a bad weather condition, Unkai Terrace will be closed for the day. So, please check the weather at least a week before.
Gondola ride. Image Source: Jebiga.
In total, there are three types of unkai viewing. The first unkai is called Pacific Ocean-grown Unkai. This is where the clouds will flood the sky due to high atmospheric pressure, thus, providing great scenery of clouds in the morning. The second type is Tomamu-grown Unkai. This happens when the temperature drops drastically in the morning. This phenomenon will also occur when the temperature in Unkai Terrace is slightly colder than at the base. Usually, you will see the hotel’s structure appears vaguely in the midst of the sea of clouds. Lastly, Adverse-weather Unkai will happen during bad weather condition where the cloud and the wind’s course will be quite chaotic.
Tomamu-grown Unkai. Adverse-weather Unkai.
Apart from that, after gaining nationwide attention, Unkai Terrace has installed several observation decks for a better and up-close experience.
This flower-shaped suspension bridge is known as ‘Cloud Walk’. Visitors can take a walk along the bridge to get closer to the clouds, thus making them feels like they are floating.
Cloud Walk. Image Source: Goin’ Japanesque!
For a more thrilling adventure, step into this giant hammock in ‘Cloud Pool’. It can accommodate up to 10 people at the same time, plus, the view from the hammock is quite unique as compared to ‘Cloud Walk’.
Cloud Pool. Image Source: Hoshino Resorts Official Website.
Other than that, you can also enjoy the view of Tomamu at ‘Cloud Bar’ and ‘Cloud Bed’. The ‘Cloud Bar’ is similar to when you are in a bar sitting by the countertop. Tall chairs will be lined up along the counter and visitors can enjoy the scenery while looking down from the terrace. The ‘Cloud Bed’ is where visitors can lie or sit on cloud droplet-shaped cushions that are available in many sizes. Simply lay back and bask in the peaceful ambience. Additionally, look out for a photo-worthy spot at ‘Sky Wedge’.
Cloud Bed. Sky Wedge.
While you are on the Unkai Terrace, dine at Tenbou Café or nicknamed as ‘The café closest to heaven on Earth’ to warm yourself up with a great selection of beverages and soups. Moreover, there is a yoga session held in the morning too. There are no fees as it is free to those who would like to partake in the exercise.
Yoga session. Image Source: Goin’ Japanesque.
For outdoor junkies, this place allows its visitors to go hiking all the way up to Unkai Terrace. Some say that if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see a clear panoramic view of the whole place while climbing the hill. Otherwise, you might only see thick fog. In addition, Unkai Terrace also allows its visitors to bring their pets.
Besides that, we would like to recommend you to stay in Hoshino Resorts Tomamu because of its proximity to Unkai Terrace, plus, hotel guests get to ride the gondola lift free of charge. Why not spend a day or two at this prestigious ski resort? Among the activities you can do around winter time are snow rafting, skiing, parasailing, dog-sledding and snowmobiling. The most popular attraction here is the Ice Village. The entire place looks like somewhere in the North Pole, complete with Ice Chapel, Ice Hotel and skating rink.
Ice Village. Image Source: Snow Tomamu.
How to Get Here?
From Sapporo, take JR Limited Express and make a stop at Tomamu Station. From the station, a shuttle bus will take you straight to Hoshino Resorts Tomamu which will only take 5 to 10 minutes.
For those travelling from New Chitose Airport, take a train to Minami-Chitose Station by JR Rapid Airport. From the station, take JR Limited Express to Tomamu Station.
Image Source: Snow Tomamu.
Address: Tomamu, Azanaka, Shimukappu-mura, Yuhutsu-gun, Hokkaido
Operating Hours: 4:30AM-7:00PM
Gondola Lift Fee: ¥1,900 (Adult aged 13 and above),¥1,200 (Child aged 7 to 12), ¥500 (Pets), Free for children aged 4 to 6 and hotel guests.
Contact Number: +81-167-58-1205
Closest Train Station: Tomamu Station
Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU
Address: Nakatomamu, 字 Shimukappu, Yufutsu District, Hokkaido 079-2204, Japan
Contact Number: +81 167-58-1145