I discovered it very recently; contrary to what its inhabitants believe or proclaim, Japan is a big country and furthermore, I haven’t travelled beyond Honshu, the central island and this is in the northern, Hokkaido. So to get there, you need to either take a 3-4 hour train ride from either one of the local airports or from Sapporo, the area’s biggest city. And eventually reach the Tomamu resort and the terrace called “Unkai” or “sea of clouds”.
Is it worth it? Enough to write about it in a website not related to travel like metamatic:taf? I will risk it because the phenomenon is unique even from what you can see in pictures: because of its location in the top of a mountain and of several very specific weather conditions of one of Japan’s countless micro-climates, the visitors to the terrace comes across a scene that can leave you breathless –a waterfall of clouds coming from the one end of your field of view and spreads until the other, way more spectacular than the clouds as seen from an airplane.
Of course this comes at a cost –beyond having to travel to Hokkaido: the sight is visible only in the summer, to see it you need to use a gondola operating only between 4:00 and 8:30 in the morning and even if you get there, it doesn’t happen every day as it is influenced by atmospheric conditions (and I’ll not even get into who would like to be in such a high place in a country with so many earthquakes since, obviously, this doesn’t affect everyone in the same way). Yet, it’s such an exciting sight that I’m sure everyone would happily pay the price: it is impossible to see this and not start having thoughts about god of about the beginning and the end of the world.