Each and every winter a rare weather phenomenon creates the perfect conditions for ice and snow covered trees on the Yamagata Prefecture side of Mt. Zao. The unwordly towering shapes are known as the legendary "snow monsters", or occassionally "ice monsters". 2015 is an unusally warm winter, but the massive ski resort with 15 different slopes and 12 courses is still going strong despite locals claiming half the amount of snowfall compared to last year. Snow monsters can be usually viewed from late December to the beginning of March. These pictures are from mid-February on a warm winter.
Visitors wishing to see the snow monsters may take a series of two lifts to the top of the mountain. Return is either by lift, ski or snowboard! Riding through the mosters' lair is a popular activitiy for both locals and tourists. An illumination event and night cruiser snow truck are also special ways to enjoy the magic. There are many restaurants, hotels, and hot springs in the area. More information on the official website here.
A trip to the snow monsters is an unforgettable experience well worth a special trip to the area for locals and overseas visitors alike.
Find out more about Zao Onsen Ski Resort.