Icicles of Ashigakubo
Chichibu’s icy winter wonderland attraction!
- 2020 Dates: Jan. 5 to Feb. 24
- Mon to Thurs 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Fri, Sat, Sun until 8 p.m. The nighttime light up is from sunset on Fri through Sun only.
The Icicles of Ashigakubo (Ashigakubo no Tsurara), in Yokoze Town, is a quick winter getaway not too far from Tokyo. From January to February, visitors can get a glimpse of these amazing man-made ice formations that can be viewed day or night.
How is it made?
Since 2014, this popular site is actually created by locals every year. The spectacle is made by spraying water onto a small hill until it becomes crystallized in the freezing weather. As soon as night falls, it is then illuminated with vibrant lights.
Although it’s artificially made, Yokoze’s fresh take on Japanese winter illumination is still an enchanting view to witness. Plus, it’s only an hour and a half train ride from Ikebukuro, in northern Tokyo.
Once the radiant purple, blue, green and red lights hit the monstrous-looking frost of Ashigakubo, it becomes a romantic and photogenic spot. Children, on the other hand, will just be fascinated with its peculiar shapes.
In addition, a train passing by from time to time gives an even more dramatic effect to the icicle’s unusual beauty. Visitors can truly savor this scenery as they saunter around, but they can have the best view upon reaching the hilltop.
There, they could finally relax and warm themselves right by the wood-burning heaters while they drink amazake (traditional sweet rice drink) or hot tea. This treat is included in the ¥300 entrance fee.
Souvenirs and food
As a part of the picturesque Chichibu district, Yokoze is surrounded by mountains and rich greeneries. There are no stores at the venue, but you can buy some of its fresh produce at the station’s souvenir shop that is only 10 minutes on foot from the venue. It also sells handcrafted home decors and locally made food items like honey and pudding that is worth checking out.
Moreover, there are food stalls at the train station where you can have oden, soba noodles and other Japanese dishes. These will surely warm you up and prepare you on your journey to the icicles, or get it as a cozy meal before heading back home.