No, these are ICE MONSTERS! Or Juhyo in Japanese.
At the top of Mt Jizo, at the coldest time of the year, they gather under the full moon~
Okay, yeah, so they aren’t actually alive… But they can look really creepy! Literally like a huge group of icy monsters gliding along under the moon, ready to converge on the light…
Actually, the Juhyo are trees that have a build up of super cold snow and rime. It doesn’t happen in many places in Japan, the conditions have to be just right, but at Zao in Yamagata you can see theses beautiful natural sculptures every year. And go skiing on some fabulous slopes, soak in natural milky white hot springs, and eat delicious beef dishes made from beef raised in Yamagata itself.
It’s pretty famous within Japan, so it’s always busy, but it’s also so beautiful!
The best season for the Juhyo is in February, but they can also be seen in January and March. Weather although is much harder to predict, with strong cold winds (-10 deg C when we went!) and high altitude, it changes very quickly.
As always, more photos of my visit to Zao can be seen on flickr!