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Travel News Bitchu Matsuyama Castle using AI to predict sea of clouds


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle in Okayama is famous as the mountain castle in the clouds. A lab at the Okayama University of Science now provides artificial intelligence-based probabilities on whether a sea of clouds will form around the iconic castle.


Photo credit: City of Takahashi, Okayama

Their numbers could help tourists plan trips when clouds are more likely to form and surround the castle, enhancing the picturesque beauty of the historic site. Bitchu-Matsuyama Castle is located along the Takahashigawa river near the 487-meter peak of Mount Gagyuzan. A sea of clouds may cover the area on mornings from late September through early April, but the peak season is from October through December. The clouds are prone to form when a number of conditions are met, including: calm wind in the altitude range of 1,000 to 2,000 meters; a large temperature difference between daytime and night on the previous day; and clear weather on the previous night. But the formations are not guaranteed, and many early morning visitors who throng a mountain observation deck 1.1 kilometers from the castle can leave disappointed.

Members of the lab, led by Yukitaka Ohashi, a professor of meteorology with the OUS Faculty of Biosphere-Geosphere Science, installed a camera at the observation deck to take automated pictures of the area surrounding the castle. They collected images from October last year through May and fed the information into an AI system, along with temperature, humidity and wind speed data from the same period. The lab also developed a computer program that enabled the system to give the probability of a sea of clouds forming at the castle on the following morning.

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