Last month I spent one night at Hotel Chinzansou in the heart of Tokyo. In normal times, its beautiful Japanese-style garden is open to day-time visitors. However, because of the pandemic, it’s now restricted to hotel guests only. So I wasn’t aware that they had been spraying water mist several times an hour to create a sea of clouds.
The blue “sea of clouds” is only once a day
Morning mist at the edge of Yusui-chi pond
The mist dissipates in a matter of minutes, but during that time the lower section on the garden is enveloped in a mysterious atmosphère. It’s even more impressive at night, when the lanterns are turned on. Since there are few guests, it is fun to wander around and get lost in the mist. The path leading to the entrance on the Kanda river is probably the best section.
Statues, mist and a pagoda
The mist only spreads through the lower section of the garden
At certain times, they do scented mists, and once in the evening, they do a blue mist. The very last mist of the day is a big “sea of clouds”, when they release mist for a longer time. This isn’t mentioned on the pamphlet; it was one of the staff who whispered it to me. Another secret is the small shrine behind the pagoda at the top of the garden; it has its own separate mist system.
Path leading to the gate on the Kanda river
The main garden pond turns blue once a day
In Japanese, a sea of clouds is called “unkai” and is something that is typically observed in the mountains in the mornings. Perhaps it’s because people were asked not to travel to other prefectures during the state of emergency, that someone decided to create this special mountain phenomenon inside Tokyo. Whatever the reason, it’s a brilliant idea, since it’s simple to execute and visually spectacular.
Path leading up to the pagoda
“Sea of mists” in the daytime
From November 11th, they are starting “Aurora“, a variant of the “sea of clouds”. From the photos it looks the same, except there is also some mist in the sky. By the way, the sea of clouds started about a year ago, in October 2020. I wonder if they will continue it once the garden is open to day-time visitors again as it might become crowded. In any case, it’s probably best to try and see it before then by staying one night at the hotel if possible.
See the spooky atmosphere of the sea of clouds at Hotel Chinzansou