The enchanting appearance of the frozen trees makes Zao Onsen village a popular winter destination.
As the cable car passes a mountain in Yamagata prefecture, Japan, the snow-covered fir trees underneath begin to change. They take the form of “snow monsters” when the green shirt has disappeared under the white mantle.
Many visitors exclaimed in excitement when they saw the skaters gently glide against the white snow. Looking back from a distance, they looked like horse riding men rushing to a prime location to see the majestic mountain scenery around.
It is a common reaction of visitors when they first see the “snow monster” of Zao Onsen – or “Juhyo” in Japanese. Excitement increases as passengers leave the cabin to explore the mysterious characters around there. Some pedestrians, others clutching their boards, willingly glided past the “monsters” as they descended the mountain.
The frozen trees with this attractive appearance were dubbed snow monsters.
The “Juhyo” (frozen tree) phenomenon is caused by severe winter weather. As Siberian storms and winds hit the Zao Mountains, the trees were gradually covered with wet ice and snow. In the end, the frozen trees make this small village a popular winter destination.
Just like looking at the clouds, the funniest part about “snow monster” is the “what you see” game. Snow-covered trees have a lively shape. Visitors can think of a cheetah or a white witch pointing her long, bony fingers at the blue sky. Most of the trees here look like fictional characters in the film directed by Tim Burton.
A view from the observation center, in which people are clearing snow from the top of the cable car tower.
The cable car has a lot of ice and snow, so it must be cleaned regularly.
To get here, visitors need to take two interconnected cable car trips, the starting point is Zao Ski resort. For skiers and skateboarders, a cable car package is included with the resort. As for pedestrians, they will have access to a separate round-trip ticket.
When you reach the top of the mountain, you can exit the observation area to reach the slopes and wander among the “snow monsters”.
If you’ve never seen them before, they look dramatic and impressive.
Tourists walk to watch the snow forest.
Zao Onsen is well-deserved for a 3-night stay, where you can ski, take a hot spring bath and explore “snow monsters”. The best time to admire this scene is in late January to early March, before spring warms again.
Train and bus are the easiest way to get to Zao Onsen, with high-speed trains running directly from Tokyo to Yamagato Station all day, taking only 2.5 hours. Some resorts offer a direct pick-up from Yamahata Station, about 16 km away.
Buses will depart once every hour and take about 40 minutes. At Yamahata Station, follow the sign of the main exit and turn left to reach the bus stop, which is located within the same building.