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Zao Snow Monsters

If you suppose these are man-carved ice blocks, you underestimate the talents of nature—the snow monsters appear on their own

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Besides it's a well-known skiing and spa resort in the north of Japan, Zao Onsen in Yamagata Prefecture is also famed for its snow monsters that draw more travellers than the slopes themselves. Variously-shaped "monsters" also known as "Juhyo" stand still, lining the skiing slopes and forming unique and spectacular scenery for skiers, snowboarders, and snowshoers.

And what are these enormous snow figurines? In fact, in warmer times of year, you will see an evergreen conifer forest there. But under loads of snow, super cool drizzle, and strong non-stop winds, the trees gradually turn into what is named snow monsters.

The first signs of snow monsters are observed in late December when the trees are coated into ice. In January the monsters put on some weight, covering more and more into snow. Japanese love to name those "shrimp tails". The peak is February, that's when the snow monsters are truly huge. And in March the statues start melting down, finaly freeing the conifers that have been trapped in ice-and-snow box for three months.

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