Zao Snow Monsters 2015

Warm winter fails to resist the monsters' winter parade

By Justin Velgus    - 2 min read

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.

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Justin Velgus

Justin Velgus @justin.velgus

Justin Velgus (ジャスティン ベルガス) is a long-term resident and promoter in the Tohoku region. He has been a content producer for since 2012 and was the Miyagi Prefecture Regional Partner 2013-2015. Justin’s over 300 published travel and culture articles come from a background of studying in Akita, teaching English in Miyagi through the JET Program, and working for the government in Fukushima. He lives in the gyutan capital of the world, Sendai.   Justin is an expert in local culture and history. He was the first foreign volunteer at Sendai City Museum and regularly advises the local volunteer guide group GOZAIN , which he is a veteran member, on guiding techniques and hidden locations in the city even locals don't know about. In his free time he enjoys delivering original walking tours, such as his Dark Sendai Tour (ghost tour) or Kokubuncho Mystery Tour (redlight district tour). Justin is also a Certified Sake Professional.