Throngs of spooky "snow monsters" have taken over the Zao Onsen ski resort in northeastern Japan's Yamagata Prefecture, drawing crowds of tourists and skiers to the icy mountain despite temperatures below minus 10 C over the weekend.

The majestic formation occurs every winter on Mt. Zao when the branches and needle-like leaves of the Maries' fir trees there are enveloped entirely in a thick coating of ice and snow, a phenomenon known in Japan as "juhyo" or literally "ice tree".

Masahiro Tsuboshita, a 26-year-old who was visiting from Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, said, "They are bigger than I expected and quite impressive indeed. It was worth coming all the way."

The trees will be illuminated until March 3 allowing visitors to view the rime-covered giants after sunset.

More photos of Mt. Zao's "juhyo":

In 2017:

In 2016: