With 14 pistes, Zao Onsen Ski Resort is one of the largest ski resorts in Tohoku. The terrain from about 1,500 m above sea level to the summit grows something special called rime, also known as “snow monsters.” The shortest route to reach the rime takes about 18 minutes by Zao Ropeway from Zao Sanroku Station in Zao's onsen town, to Juhyo Kogen Station, and then higher to Jizo Sancho Station at 1,661 m above sea level. Once you get out of the ropeway car you will find yourself standing in a sea of rime.
The rime is actually Maries' fir covered in snow and ice. From early December, ice that attaches to the tree grows upwind and turns into a snow monster by mid-January as the entire tree is covered with more snow. It is a masterpiece of nature only possible when several conditions are met, such as the terrain, the sub-zero temperatures and wind speed.
The peak period is February, but you can still see rime until early March. From late December to late February the ski resort organizes an event to light up the rime, but make sure to wear enough layers of clothes because sometimes temperatures drop to 10 below zero or lower.
You can see the snow monsters up close as well from Restaurant Sancho at Jizo Sancho Station, or on the Night Cruiser, an air-conditioned snowplow.
Zaoonsen, Yamagata-shi, Yamagata, 990-2301
- Nearest Station
･ Ou Line
･ Yamagata Line
･ Yamagata Shinkansen
- Phone Number
023-694-9518Available languagesonly in Japanese
- Every day 10:00am - 10:00pm
- Public Site
- Official Site