The ethereal beauty of Japan’s northern countryside may be less familiar than the excitement of cities like Tokyo, but anyone can appreciate Japanese photographer Sho Shibata’s images depicting an army of snow figures in the Hakkoda Mountains. While the figures look like something concocted by the White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia, they’re actually fir trees covered in a thick blanket of snow.
Shibata often hikes through the isolated range during the winter, where the landscape is a photographer’s dream. As Shibata explained to the Telegraph, “This is my favorite place to visit when it is cold like this. It transforms into a wonderland. What is incredible is how [the trees] all look so similar. They look like snow monsters; like they are ghosts.”
The immense snowfall is quite normal in the Aomori Prefecture of Japan, which is home to the Hakkoda Mountains, a range unfortunately known as the location of the largest mountaineering disaster in history, which occurred in 1902 and resulted in the deaths of 199 Japanese soldiers. However, the various volcanic peaks that make up the Hakkoda Mountains still make an excellent hiking and skiing destination (the mountains even have their very own Hakkoda Ski Resort.)
For those who may find themselves near Aomori, the mountains feature jaw-dropping scenery each season—but catching a glimpse of the hauntingly beautiful snow “monsters” might just be worth a mid-winter trip to the region in itself.