Snow mon­sters in Ja­pan

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - Hot Retreats -

ON FIRST im­pres­sion, Zao Onsen looks like a fairly typ­i­cal Ja­panese ski re­sort but, when you start ex­plor­ing, you re­alise there’s so much more to this moun­tain set­tle­ment.

Zao Onsen ( in cen­tral Ja­pan’s Ya­m­a­gata Pre­fec­ture, a short drive from Ya­m­a­gata City, is not only one of the coun­try’s biggest ski re­sorts but also one of its old­est.

The re­sort has grown around a tra­di­tional Ja­panese vil­lage, where you can stay in ryokans and soak in ther­mal pools.

But Zao is unique for an­other rea­son – and that is its famed snow mon­sters.

Be­cause of geog­ra­phy and weather pat­terns, the snow that falls on Zao’s 305ha is bone dry. On the very top of Mt Jinzo, the re­sort’s high­est spot, ev­er­green trees are cov­ered in a thick layer of white that clings to the branches, mak­ing them took like an alien army march­ing across the peak.

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