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[Hidden Wonders of Japan] Ashigakubo Icicles: A Sparkling Winter Wonderland

Towering icefalls, glistening sculptures, and dazzling illuminations transform Ashigakubo valley in Chichibu, Saitama into a magical realm.



Ashigakubo Icicles 2023

Located among the snow-covered peaks of Saitama prefecture is a stunning scene that turns the cold of winter into a captivating wonderland. From January 6 to February 25, 2024, the Ashigakubo Icicles event returns, inviting visitors to step into a realm of glistening ice sculptures and dazzling illuminations.

(©Yokose Town Tourism Association)
(©Yokose Town Tourism Association)

For over 50 years, Ashigakubo has played host to this natural phenomenon, where cascading waterfalls freeze into colossal icicles, some reaching up to 30 meters (98 ft) in height. The natural artistry is further enhanced by human ingenuity, as water is strategically sprayed onto trees and rock formations, creating an otherworldly ice forest.

A Daytime Dazzle

The Ashigakubo Icicles shimmer with an ethereal glow as the sunlight passes across the icy landscape. Walking along the designated paths, visitors are greeted by towering ice spikes, and glistening icicles clinging to branches like crystal ornaments.

Weary travelers can take a break at a cozy rest area perched on a hilltop within the park. Here, you can enjoy a free steaming cup of amazake (sweet sake) or hot tea, while friendly volunteers share stories and local legends about the icicles.

Nighttime Enchantment

As the evening approaches, the magic truly begins to reveal itself.

(©Yokose Town Tourism Association)

The Ashigakubo Icicles transform into a kaleidoscope of color under the expert hands of light designers. Vibrant hues dance across the icy peaks, casting an ethereal glow upon the snow-covered valley. Every turn reveals a new crystalline tableau bathed in captivating light as visitors wander through the illuminated wonderland.

Beyond the Icicles

The Ashigakubo Icicles event is more than just a visual feast. It's a chance to immerse oneself in the rich culture and traditions of the region. Local stalls offer an array of Saitama specialties, from melt-in-your-mouth dango (sweet rice dumplings) to steaming bowls of oden (a savory stewed dish).

A bowl of oden

For a truly immersive experience, visitors can try their hand at traditional crafts like making washi (handmade paper) or woodcarving. And let's not forget the warmth of Japanese hospitality, with friendly locals always eager to share their stories and ensure a memorable visit.

Planning Your Visit

The Ashigakubo Icicles are easily accessible by train, with a short walk from Seibu Railway Ashigakubo Station. Admission is ¥500 JPY (around $4 USD), which includes access to the park. A complimentary warm beverage is provided to visitors arriving before 4 pm.

The daytime event is open from 9 am to 4 pm, Monday through Thursday. Illuminations are held on Fridays, weekends, and public holidays from 5 pm to 8 pm, subject to change depending on sunset time.

The Ashigakubo Icicle event is an opportunity to discover the beauty of light and ice and make lasting memories. Save the dates from January 6 to February 25, 2024, as this winter invites you into a world of ice, light, and nature's enchantment.

Check the official website for more information.



Author: Shaun Fernando

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