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Juhyo, The Snow Monsters of Mount Zao

High against the slopes of Mount Zaō, in central Japan, the cold, moisture-laden winds from Siberia slams into creating a natural wonder that brings thousands of tourists every winter from all over Japan. The tiny water droplets that the strong wind carries freezes against Mount Zaō’s pine trees and their branches forming icicles. These icicles grow nearly horizontal, owing to the strong winds, over which falling snow settles creating towering, grotesque white figures that the Japanese call “snow monsters” or juhyo.

Snow monsters at Mount Zao. Photo credit: aon168/Shutterstock.com

A specific combination of strong winds, low temperatures and snowfall on evergreen conifer trees is required for snow monsters to form. Juhyo forms at a few other places in Japan, but Mount Zaō is the most accessible and thus the easiest way to experience the snow monsters. Mount Zaō is also the site of a hot spring and a ski resort. There are ropeways there from which one can have the best views of juhyo. The juhyo season starts from around the end of December and lasts until the end of February.

A phenomenon similar to juhyo is observed in Finland at the Riisitunturi National Park. The Finnish call it “tykky”.

Juhyo in Zao Mountain. Photo credit:  Krishna.Wu/Shutterstock.com

Photo credit: CHEN MIN CHUN/Shutterstock.com

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