For this #FridayFunday, we want to inspire you to do something exciting with your winter break this year! Zao Onsen is a famous skiing resort located around 40 minutes from Yamagata City in Japan. It is so established primarily because it offers so much more than just incredible ski slopes and brilliant powder snow! The resort is also popular year-round for its traditional Onsen hot spring resort village. It is also extremely well-known for the Zao Onsen Juhyo ‘Ice Monsters’.
Home to 15 different slopes, connected by 1 gondola and 35 other ski lifts, there is a great variety for most levels of skiers and snowboarders. It also appeals to families with resort attractions including a Family Snow Park and Snowboard Park all signposted in English as well as Korean, Chinese and Japanese which adds to its welcoming nature as a holiday resort.
The Juhyo ‘Ice Monsters’ make quite a spectacle and are one of the natural wonders of the area. Most commonly found during the coldest periods (late December – mid March) and at the highest mountain peaks, viewing the ‘Ice Monsters’ add to the tremendous scenery of the region. This is particularly special at night, when they are illuminated throughout the peak season (New Year, all weekends in January and for the duration of February, which is known as the Golden Stage). Aside from skiing, the ‘Ice Monsters’ are a popular feature and attract a lot of tourism to Zao Onsen every year.
If visiting Zao Onsen, we really recommend the hot natural volcanic springs. Relax and restore in one of the three public bathhouses in the village or alternatively, in one of three hot springs which are all in the open-air. You can also find Onsen facilities in hotels throughout the village. One of the most beautiful open-air baths is ”Dai Roten Buro” which is open from spring to fall (due to snow conditions during the winter) and based in a jaw-droppingly-beautiful mountain ravine.
Outside of the peak winter season, there are many breathtaking trekking routes suitable for all abilities. If you wish, mountain guides can also be organised locally for your convenience.