STORY 3 Recommended Spots to View Sea of Clouds in Japan by JNTO on 03 October 2019
The sea of clouds (unkai) is a very mysterious yet popular natural phenomenon among overseas travellers. Unkai usually appears under specific weather conditions in the morning, such as moderate moisture and stable air mass. If you have been to the Genting Highlands of Malaysia or Khao Kao of Thailand before, it is very likely that it resembles what you could see and experience in Japan. To get immersed in this wonderful experience of unkai, below are three recommended locations where you should not miss.
Shibu Toge (Gunma Prefecture and Nagano Prefecture)
Shibu Toge is located between Mount Yokote and Mount Kusatsu Shirane. Also known as the National Route 292, Shibu Toge is famous for its location at over 2,000 metres above sea level, which is recognized as the highest among all national roads in Japan.
One of the key attractions here is the sea of clouds. Thanks to the excellent nature offered by Gunma Prefecture and Nagano Prefecture, tourists and locals can witness such wonderful view at Shibu Toge that can be seen throughout the year, especially during autumn months.
It is strongly recommended to come and immerse yourself in this wonder. You are certainly going to be in awe and feel like you are living in the realm of heaven. Do bear in mind that Shibu Toge Pass is very easy to be missed particularly when you are driving through the national road. Slow down when you are in the area and look out for the vehicles parked in the car park for such a superb view!
- Shibu Toge
- Address: Hirao, Yamanouchi, Shimotakai, Nagano
- Access: 60 minutes by bus from Yudanaka Station, Nagano Electric Railway Nagano Line
Takabocchi Kogen (Nagano Prefecture)
Takabocchi Kogen, Nagano Prefecture, is a plateau with an altitude of about 1,600 metres credited as one of the best scenic spots in Japan. This is also famous as a photo spot of Mt. Fuji over Lake Suwa.
An amazing thing about this plateau is that ones will be surrounded by lovely mountain ranges; the Japanese Alps are in front of you while Mt. Fuji is right behind you. At this site, you feel like you are living in an extraordinary world.
One of the coolest attractions which draws a lot of overseas travellers and locals to this place is certainly the huge sea of clouds that you get to see mostly from September to March. In addition, there are also different ways to appreciate the sea of clouds depending on the direction.
If you are lucky enough, you will be able to get a picturesque 360° panoramic view which consists of the Mt. Fuji,Lake Suwa and the Northern Alps being covered by the seas of clouds.
Visit this location at least once if you are a fan of unkai. Even if you may miss the sight of the sea of clouds, the plateau itself still offers you an unforgetable sightseeing experience.
- Takabocchi Kogen
- Address: Kataoka Village, Shiojiri, Nagano
- Access: 40 minutes by car from JR Chuo Main Line Shiojiri Station
- *Closed in winter (from December until late April)
- Or get off at the Nagano Expressway Okaya IC. It is approximately 30 minutes by car via Takabotchi Skyline.
Oeyama or Mount Oe (Kyoto Prefecture)
Oeyama or Mount Oe is a mountain range spanning Tango Amanohashidate Oeyama National Park, which is an ideal place for climbing enthusiasts. With the legends surrounding demons such as sake puppets, Oe Town also holds three ancient shrines, known as the Moto-Ise Sansha, which are considered to be previous locations of Ise Grand Shrine in Mie Prefecture.
Apart from the sea of clouds which can be seen between November and December, there is another reason to visit this location - the leaves in the area will change colours in early October, making a beautiful sight along with the sea of clouds.
To get the best unkai experience, follow avid photographers to the Oniko Inari Shrine at Mount Oe's 8th station which is believed to be the best position. Do not forget your camera for the beautiful shots of autumn leaves and sea of clouds that contrasts well with the surface of the mountains.
Are you ready to witness the picturesque views? It is your turn to plan and experience a trip to this legendary landscape!
- Address: Oe, Fukuchiyama, Kyoto
- Access: About 20 minutes by bus From Kyoto Tango Railway Miyafuku Line Oe Station. Alight at Oeyama-no-ie, then walk for about 75 minutes to the viewing spot.