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Zao Snow Monsters

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Zao Snow Monsters

Zao Snow Monsters refers to snow encased fir trees that give the illusion of giant beings roaming the slopes of Mount Zao. These winter phenomena are known as Juhyo or Snow Monsters. These snow monsters are rare even in Japan and are created when the right weather conditions are met. Overnight the northwest winds from Siberia mixes with the Tsushima Warm Current, which creates snow clouds of large amounts of vapor. The snow falling is combined with water droplets that do not freeze at 0℃. Cold winds blowing at night with speeds of 10 to 15 meters per second solidify the snows shape on the fir trees. From a distance it looks like a group of figures slowly trudging up Mount Zao through the winter cold. Every first week of February there is the Snow Monster Festival, where at night there is an illumination on the wintery figures. You can ride the Zao ropeway to see the colorful light up of the snow monsters. Seeing the snow encrusted trees at night is a huge contrast to the day time and is worth the time. You can also ski down the slopes during the day while passing the Juhyo as you make your way back to the foot of the mountain.