Three hours from Tokyo at Zao Onsen, a top-tier traditional skiing and snowboarding resort in the Yamagata Prefecture, exists a beautiful winter phenomenon. Dozens of Aomori fir trees spend each winter coated with wet snow and ice, frozen nearly solid in highly peculiar shapes.
The so-called Snow Monsters, or Juhyo, are surrounded by grand mountains and 1,900 years of venerable hot springs tradition.
The Snow Monsters make for stunning winter scenery, especially combined with the vast panoramic landscape. The Juhyo can be seen from morning until late evening if you board the Zao Ropeway, which begins at the foot of the mountain. Until March, weekend visitors are treated to the “Juhyo Corridor of Fantasy” tour where the Juhyo are lit up throughout the night and are visible from a snowmobile.
Zao Onsen is among the oldest ski resorts in Japan and is a highlight for visitors not interested in strapping a board onto their feet. You can also enjoy the beautiful hot springs, spectacular scenery and delightful Lodge Scole.