Shirakawa Ice Pillars
Towering, majestic curtains of ice lit up after dark
The Kiso area of Nagano Prefecture is well-known for its beautiful forests and walking trails in warmer months, but the region is just as spectacular in winter. During the coldest months, the clear water that runs down the rock face of Mt. Ontake freezes into massive icicles known as the Shirakawa Ice Pillars. These pillars can reach up to 50 meters tall, and stretch across the mountainside in a group up to 250 meters long. Visitors can travel to Kiso to view the ice pillars from January to mid-February. The pillars are illuminated after dark, creating a breathtaking image entirely different from their daytime appearance.
How to get there
The Shirakawa Ice Pillars are about 30 minutes by car from Kiso-Fukushima Station. Taxis are readily available after arriving at the station by train, a one-hour ride from Matsumoto. Local buses take about the same amount of time, but only run during the daytime.