Every now and again, I claim my maternal right to say the following words,
“I want to go, so you`re all going.”
Spouse is usually more than happy to comply whereas the Offspring will catapult feeble arguments in retaliation to my proclamation followed by flaming insults toward the location of my choosing. This backlash usually fortifies my resolve that some time away would be good for the hostiles.
The location eliciting the firestorm of burning barbs of criticism was Zao, Japan, located in the Yamagata prefecture. (West of the famed Fukushima)
The hook attached to my lip was the Snow Monsters- Juhyo in Japanese.
These monstrosities only appear during the month of February due to weather conditions blowing in from the ocean making the snow wet and heavy. This gluey, goopy snow sticks to the trees at the highest elevations enveloping them from top to bottom transforming in to giant snow monsters bowing over to grab skiers flying by.
On Wednesday before our Friday departure, Spouse threw the work card and Offspring #2 claimed pressing social engagements – a dance and a sleep over leaving just Offspring #1 and me. Although the snowboarding was heralded as more cellar than stellar, he would snowboard on a 3% incline and a dusting of snow. Even the looming “threat” of Fukushima couldn`t keep us away. I get more radiation from my super sonic frizz fixing hairdryer.
OS#1 and I arrived at our hotel located at the base of the lift to the Snow Monsters. Based on our reception, Zao is not a frequent haunt of Western tourists.The man at the front desk greeted me as we walked through the door. “Konbawa Ouisar-san!”
It was late so he advised that we go to dinner before viewing the snow monsters. Presented in Japanese style, it was served in one room with all guests eating a set menu.
“Konbawa Ouisar-san” The hotel staff were all greeting by name- on sight. This was to become a pattern wherever we went as news of our Western presence became known. We were famous for a weekend.
The first course arrived-
We were thrilled with our dinner. OS#1 and I had never eaten uni (Sea urchin) out of the shell. Possibly over exuberant, and potentially louder than the other patrons- taking pictures etc., all the other diners turned to watch us “enjoying” our dining experience. They must eat uni out of the shell every night.
As soon as was polite, we charged out to the lift.
During the month of February, a lift takes walkers, skiers and snowboarders up to the Snow Monsters where all are allowed to view during the day and night.
The weather was bad the two nights of our visit which did not provide good picture-taking opportunities. However, I highly recommend this location for a horror movie or desolate winter scene to all of the famous movie producers reading this blog as it is truly one of the spookiest places I`ve ever seen.
Antarctica must be tropical in comparison.
The next day was beautiful.
We found this Buddha who had been hidden the night before. When not snow-covered, he sits in lotus position flanked by 4 other Buddhas. The wind has blown his nose to the side of his face.
The exposed part is about 5 feet tall.
The skiing trail through the snow monsters is behind OS#1. The gondola taking skiers and walkers can be seen in the background over the snow monsters.
No matter how many times I threw objects of varying sizes at the tree, it would not dump its snow on OS#1. Very disappointing.
OS#1 kept saying “Mom- you stink!” to which denial is the only appropriate response no matter the situation. We soon discovered the source.
A scenic, yet odiforous onsen. Rumor has it that its strong smell indicates superior healing qualities. Zao is equally famous for the beautiful onsens.
Of all the places I`ve visited in Japan, this is on my Top 5 list. Many of you know that I`ve been whining that my new camera was among the Top 5 worst purchases I`ve made – highlighted by the pictures above. However, a wonderful article accompanied by stunning shots of Zao and the Snow Monsters was written by Lisa Jardine and Hilary Wendel for CNNGo.com- Please get all the details for travel and see the Snow Monsters in all their glory below.
Read “Japan`s Weirdest Snowscape: The Monsters of Zao” Lisa Jardine CNNGo.com Here