Where to Enjoy the "Unkai" - Sea of Cloud in Japan. Top 5 Sceneries You Won't Regret.

Where to Enjoy the
The Sea of clouds usually appears in autumn. Many people dream of seeing such a fantastic sight to feel as if they were above the clouds. To increase your chances of meeting the Unkai - sea of clouds, you should visit during a certain time of year and time of day. In this article, we will answer all of your questions, like "What is a sea of clouds?", "What is the best period and time to see Unkai" and "What are the conditions under which a sea of clouds appears?". And we will introduce the top five Uncai places in Japan!

Contents


What exactly is Unkai? What kind of Unkai can be seen in autumn and what are the conditions?


Unkai is a mist, which appears as a sea of clouds when the fog arising from mountains, rivers, or lakes, accumulates in one area. There are several types of cloud seas, and their appearance varies depending on weather conditions such as season and temperature. It's not easy to catch the right conditions to enjoy the scenery, which makes your trip to the top exhilarating once you hit Unkai.

【Types of Sea of Clouds seen in autumn】 ・Radiation fog ※Commonly known type of Sea of clouds
・Sea of clouds after rain
・Sea of clouds accumulated from river fog, lake fog, and steam fog

【Conditions to see the Sea of Clouds】
・Often seen in valleys
・When the wind is weak
・During mornings and evenings
・In the morning after rain

1. Takabotchi Highlands(Nagano)


Sea of clouds on the Takabotchi Plateau

  ▲Sea of Clouds in Takabotchi Highlands(Nagano)/ Image courtesy of PIXTA 


The sea of clouds on the Takabotchi Plateau is a well-known spot among Japanese people. At the beginning of the sunrise, you can see a fantastic view of Mt. Fuji dyed red with orange gradation and the sea of clouds surrounding it.

Sea of clouds on the Takabotchi Highlands, Mt. Fuji and Lake Suwa (Nagano)

  ▲Sea of clouds on Takabotchi Plateau, Mt. Fuji and Lake Suwa (Nagano)/ Image courtesy of PIXTA 


If you are lucky, Lake Suwa may even appear in the sea of clouds! The sea of clouds, Mt. Fuji, and Suwa Lake illuminated by the morning glow, create the most splendid view. The best viewing spot is at the summit observatory, the hill where you can look out over the mountain, and the observation square. If you are visiting mainly for photography, you will need to get there early to secure a spot for a good picture.

【The best timing to see Unkai】
Period: Late October to December (until road closure)
Timing: 30 minutes before sunrise to 1 hour after sunrise.
*Closed during winter from early December to late April.

【Conditions for a Sea of Clouds to appear】
・Due to the big difference between the cold night and the next morning
・Sunny or clear days with moderate winds

■Takabotchi Highlands(Nagano)
Address: Kataoka, Shiojiri City, Nagano Prefecture
Official HP: "Sea of ​​clouds in Takabocchi Highland" Shiojiri City Tourism Association official website


2.Ryuo Mountain Park - SORA terrace(Nagano)


Ryuo Mountain Park - SORA terrace(Nagano) Sea of clouds in the evening

  ▲Ryuo Mountain Park - SORA terrace Evening Unkai(Nagano)/ Image courtesy of PIXTA 


"SORA terrace" is built on a steep slope at an altitude of 1,770 meters. If the conditions are right, this place will show you a spectacular view of the sea of clouds, which is so beautiful and fantastic that it will never leave you indifferent. Surrounded by high mountains and valleys, the topography allows clouds to accumulate, creating a vast sea of clouds that attracts many people.
According to the "SORA terrace" official website, the appearance rate of the sea of clouds in the evening is the highest, exceeding 30%. (*Ryuo Mountain Park survey, 2020) Autumn is also the season of colored leaves, and if conditions are right, it is the most luxurious time of year to enjoy a panoramic view of the "sea of clouds" + "colored leaves" + "setting sun" + "panoramic view".

Ryuo Mountain Park SORA terrace Sunset Sea of Clouds (Nagano)

  ▲Ryuo Mountain Park SORA terrace Sunset Sea of Clouds (Nagano)/ Image courtesy of PIXTA 


The sea of clouds at sunset time also offers a different spectacular view than before sunset. The colors of the sky create a fantastic atmosphere with a bright glow. The weather at the summit can change rapidly, so be sure to bring some warm clothes.

【The best timing to see Unkai】
Period: June - November
Timing: Morning, 1 to 2 hours before sunset or Sunset time around 5 pm (June to August), 4 pm (September to November)

【Conditions for a Sea of Clouds to appear】
・Morning and evening hours when the temperature at the foot of the mountain drops.
・When you look at the summit from the foot of the mountain and it is covered with fog
・After seeing sunlight in the sky despite the fog
・When there is a large temperature difference between daytime and nighttime
・After a sudden rainfall, or an evening shower

■Ryuo Mountain Park - SORA terrace(Nagano)
Address: Ryuo Kitashiga, Yamanouchi Town, Shimotakai District, Nagano Prefecture
Official HP: Ryuo Mountain Resort SORA terrace Official Website


3.Takeda Castle Ruins(Hyogo)


Takeda Castle Ruins in the morning sun surrounded by a sea of clouds (Hyogo)

  ▲Takeda Castle Ruins in the morning sun surrounded by a sea of clouds (Hyogo)/ Image courtesy of PIXTA 


Takeda Castle, the "Castle in the Sky," became famous after appearing in a commercial as "Japanese Machu Picchu". Usually the sea of clouds tends to appear during autumn season.

Sea of clouds and autumn leaves at Takeda Castle (Hyogo Prefecture)

  ▲Sea of clouds and autumn leaves at Takeda Castle (Hyogo Prefecture)/ Image courtesy of PIXTA 


In autumn, if you are lucky, you can see a combination of autumn leaves, the sea of clouds, and Takeda Castle. Ritsuun Valley (Ritsuunkyo) is also a great spot to gaze at the ruins of Takeda Castle surrounded by a sea of clouds, as seen in the commercials.

【The best timing to see Unkai】
Period: September - November
Timing: From near dawn to around 8:00 AM.

【Conditions for a Sea of Clouds to appear】
・Large change in temperature from day and night
・Fine weather day
・Very low wind

■Takeda Castle Ruins(Hyogo)
Address: 169 Takeda Kojoyama, Wadayama-cho, Asago City, Hyogo Prefecture
Official HP: Takeda Castle Ruins


4.Mount Haku(Ishikawa)


Kasagatake and Hakusan in the sea of clouds

  ▲Kasagatake and Hakusan in a sea of clouds (Ishikawa)/ Image courtesy of PIXTA 


Hakusan, one of the three most famous mountains in Japan, is actually a spot where you can see a mysterious sea of clouds that covers space around. From the top of the mountain, you can see the surrounding mountains towering above in a beautiful sea of clouds.

Mt. Hakusan towering above the sea of clouds and a bright red sunset

  ▲Mt. Hakusan rising in a sea of clouds and a bright red sunset (Ishikawa)/ Image courtesy of PIXTA 


The view of the sunrise and sea of clouds rising from the Northern Alps, in particular, is unforgettably spectacular and seared into the hearts of all who see it.

【The best timing to see Unkai】
Period: Late September to late October
Timing: morning

【Conditions for a Sea of Clouds to appear】
・The next morning after rain and cooler temperatures
・Windless day

■Mount Hakusan (Ishikawa Prefecture)
Address:Ishikawa prefecture, Hakusan city, Hakusan
Official HP: Hakusan Tourism Association Official Website


5.Kunimigaoka(Miyazaki)


Sea of clouds at Kunimigaoka (Miyazaki) illuminated by the morning sun

  ▲Sea of clouds at Kunimigaoka illuminated by the morning sun (Miyazaki)/ Image courtesy of PIXTA 


Kunimigaoka is a famous spot for the sea of clouds. The sea of clouds covering the surrounding mountains is fantastic, and the scenery is truly impressive as "the town where God lives" unfolds before your eyes. The view created by the sea of clouds and the morning sun is especially breathtaking. During the season, this is a popular cloud sea spot that attracts many people even early in the morning.

【The best timing to see Unkai】
Period: Mid-September to late November
Timing: Early morning (from 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.)

【Conditions for a Sea of Clouds to appear】
・Clear day
・Windless Day
・Large temperature difference between day and night

■Kunimigaoka(Miyazaki)
Address: Oshikata, Takachiho Town
Official HP: 「Kunimigaoka」Takachiho Tourist Association Official Website

Conclusioin

How was it? The sea of clouds that appears under the right conditions is fantastic, and depending on the spot, you may be able to see not only the sea of clouds, but also multiple spectacular sights at the same time. We recommend considering the conditions, period, and time of year when the sea of clouds is most likely to occur before going to the view spot. We hope you find this information helpful and that you can fully enjoy the scenery.

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