Skiers descend a slope as huge, glittering “juhyo” ice monsters offer a breathtaking sight at the Zao Onsen ski resort on Jan. 20. (Toshiyuki Hayashi)

YAMAGATA--Skiers and snowboarders paused on their runs down the mountain as glimpses of “juhyo” ice monsters sent shivers down their spine at the renowned Zao Onsen ski resort here on Jan. 20.

Vacationers enjoyed the spectacle of enormous, glittering trees covered in hoarfrost and ice against the deep blue sky as they descended on skis and snowboards.

Some in snowshoes simply strolled down there to take a closer look at the winter phenomenon.

Jan. 20 is said to be the coldest day of the year, according to the traditional Japanese 24 divisions of the four seasons.

Gondola operator Zao Ropeway said the temperature dipped to minus 11.4 degrees at 7 a.m. at Jizo Sancho Station, which stands 1,661 meters above sea level, near the summit of the Zao mountain range.