“Snow monsters” in the Hakkoda mountains. all photos by Sho Shibata

Imagine fir trees disguised as snowmen, a forest covered with powdery snow that envelops everything in sight. The landscape all around you is decorated with peculiar white formations, which, upon closer examination, reveals themselves to be hundreds of trees and shrubs immersed entirely in snow.

The snow muffles all sound and renders everything in sight a sparkling white. Japanese photographer Sho Shibata, 34, stumbled upon this wintry wonderland during a hike to the Hakkoda mountains in Aomori. His snaps of these remarkable snowdrifts allow us to share his special experience.


This snow covered volcanic mountain range is a popular ski destination. After heavy snowfall, the landscape is utterly transformed.


However cold it might get, the extreme weather does not deter the most driven hikers and skiers.

“This is my favourite place to visit when it is cold like this,” Mr. Shibata explains. “It transforms into a wonderland. He marveled at the subjects of his photographs, musing “What is incredible is how [the trees] all look so similar. They look like snow monsters; like they are ghosts”. The trees cast long shadows and create an intriguing visual pattern when viewed from up high.

These natural snow sculptures herald the approach of the coldest part of Honshu’s winter, with temperatures often exceeding a frigid -8 Celsius.  Come spring, when the cherry blossoms bloom in late May, these transient forms will have already begun to melt back into the earth.

Consider these natural formations peppered all across the Hakkoda mountain range, as nature’s icy seasonal greetings. If you feel like trying to see them for yourself, be sure to bundle up warm! Pack a thermos of hot green tea, a camera, and a sled if you are feeling especially brave.


The mountain’s peak is right about 5000 feet!