Where To See Snow Monsters In Japan?

Where To See Snow Monsters In Japan?

Snow monster is a rare scenic sight that can only be viewed in a few places around the world. Fortunately, Miyagi prefecture at is one of them. You can use your Japan Rail Pass to take the Tohoku Shinkansen to Sendai, the capital city of Miyagi prefecture.

What is Snow Monster?

They are called “Snow Monsters” because of its tall height and big size in a distorted head and big body, coupled with tentacles.
Basically, they are conifer trees covered with snow and ice. Wouldn’t that be just frozen trees? Why is it called a monster? The reason is that it doesn’t look like a tree at all. The snow and ice are actually blown into the trees. As each tree gets different wind flow, the shape is different for each tree. 

How is Snow Monster created?

snow monster in the making
Snow Monster in the making: Wind is shaping the monster

In order to become huge enough to be called snow monster, it is necessary to meet the following conditions.

  • Supercooled water droplets in the air at sub-zero temperature
  • Strong winds in a certain direction
  • Droplets freezes as it touches the conifer trees
  • Snow and ice extends and shaping a monster
  • Monster stop growing when snow and ice on trees get too thick

Where can I see Snow Monster?

You can see Snow Monster in the mountains of Tohoku region (North of Japan) such as Hachikodasan, Hachimantai, Zao, and Azumayama.

The best way to see snow monster is by ropeway and snowtruck. 

By ropeway, you can get a scenic panaromic view of the sky, mountain, and snow monsters. It is a incredible scenery like “Lord of the Rings” where monster descends from the mountains. 🙂

By snowtruck, you can get to an upclose view with the snow monsters. You can also enjoy colorful light shows on the monsters too. Remember, reserve early to avoid disappointment.  


Sumikawa Snow Park

wild monster snow truck
Sumikawa Snow Park Wild Monster Ride

You can book your snowtruck from the Sumikawa Snow Park website. The snowtruck are called Wild Monsters. Reservation is made by phone only, thus it may be difficult for non-Japanese speakers. I would strong suggest that you book a tour. Below are some recommendations. 

■ Wild Monster opens from December 15- March 17

■ Two trips per day. Each trip takes 2 hours.

(departure) 11:00-(return) 13:00
(departure) 13:30-(return) 15:30

Recommended Itinerary at the Sumikawa Snow Park

Bus –> Sumikawa snow park –> Night light + Onsen

Yamagata Zao Ropeway

zao ropeway
You can get a scenic panaromic view by ropeway

Vewing the snow monsters during the day and night gives you a different feel. It is recommended that you try both viewing at day and night. For night viewing, you can enjoy the “Night Cruiser (pre-reserved reservation required)” during the light-up period. Snow monster comes to life at night with colours.

Ropeway on the other hand does not require reservation. You can go for an casual ride on the ropeway to enjoy a panaromic view of the snow monsters from the bird’s eye view. 

It takes about 7 minutes by ropeway from Zaosanjo Station to Jigokugen Station. From there, take the ropeway and it takes about 10 minutes to Jizosan top Station.

Zao Ropeway operating hours
■ Time: From 8:45 to 17:00 (Jizo peak station until 16:45)

Night cruiser operating hours
■ Period: December 22, 2018 to March 19, 2019 Day
■ Hours: 17:00 to 21:00 (up until the last 19:50)

※ Ropeway and the night cruiser may stop operation due to the weather.

Aomori Prefecture "Hakkoda Ropeway"

hakkoda ropeway
Hakkoda Ropeway

Zao is famous viewing snow monsters, but in fact it can also be seen by Hakkoda Ropeway in Aomori Prefecture.

At Hakkoda International Ski Area, you can ski through snow monsters. It will be a great experience especially for people who enjoy skiing and snowboarding.

The ropeway takes about 10 minutes from Yamakasa Station to Yamazen Station. It operates at 15 minutes interval.

Rope way operation hours

■ Time:
From 9:00 to 15:40 (mid-November to February)
From 9:00 to 16:20 (March to early November)

※ In the case of strong wind, it stops operation for safety.


Bus: JR Aomori Station → Hakkoda Ropeway (about 60 minutes)

Akita Prefecture “Moriyoshi Gondola”

The gondola takes you to the summit in 30 minute. Snowshoe can be rented near the summit station.

Gondola Operation Hour

■ Time: 9:00 to 16:00
(Final time: Up 15:00, Down 15:30)

※ Operation will be suspended if the wind is strong.


■ Trains and taxis: Akita Shinkansen Kakudate Station → Akita Inland Ritsukai Railway Aniji Station (1 hour and 20 minutes) → Moriyoshiyama excursion taxi Ani ski resort (25 minutes)


When is the best time to view Snow Monsters?

best time to view snow monster
View Snow Monster from late January to late February

The best time to view Snow Monster is from late January to late February.

Do not miss the season. As warmer March approach, snow monsters will start melting.

Where to see snow monsters in Japan?
Article Name
Where to see snow monsters in Japan?
Snow monster is a rare scenic sight that can only be viewed in a few places around the world. Miyagi prefecture at is one of them. Use your Japan Rail Pass to take the Tohoku Shinkansen to Sendai and transfer to Mount Zao where it is famous for snow monsters. Other alternative locations are also introduced.
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Japan Gazetteer
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