Icy Splendor Near Tokyo: Discovering Ashigakubo's Icicles

Icy Splendor Near Tokyo: Discovering Ashigakubo's Icicles


From January to February, Japan's winter season reaches its peak. Snow festivals, celebrated across snow-clad regions, draw tourists with their unique charm. However, for those in the Kanto region, where snowfall is less frequent, ice festivals offer a mesmerizing alternative.

In this feature, we spotlight the Icicles of Ashigakubo, known in Japanese as "tsurara." Conveniently accessible as a day trip from Tokyo, the festival is hosted in Yokoze, Saitama Prefecture, adjacent to Tokyo. This means you can experience the winter's icy splendor without venturing into the far north.

Getting There


Reaching the Ashigakubo Icicles is straightforward. Start your journey from Seibu Ikebukuro Station, boarding the express train bound for Seibu Chichibu. Alight at Ashigakubo Station after a comfortable 1 hour and 15-minute ride.

For the trip, consider opting for the Seibu 1-Day Pass. This option offers great value, covering your round-trip travel and ensuring a hassle-free experience exploring the area.

From the Station to the Site


Upon exiting the station, you'll immediately notice a building offering souvenirs and a quaint restaurant, alongside signs directing you to the ticket booth—a mere 2-minute walk away.

Visiting on a weekday allows for a more relaxed experience, with fewer crowds. However, for those interested in witnessing the icicles illuminated, the atmosphere is significantly more vibrant. It's important to note that the light-up event is exclusive to Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays. There are no light-up events during the weekdays.

Ticket Counter


As you heed the directional signs, a white kiosk becomes visible, manned by staff selling tickets to the event. The entry fees are pleasantly affordable: 500 yen for adults and 300 yen for elementary school students, with the pricing remaining consistent even during the light-up sessions. Each ticket also comes with a complimentary drink.


From the ticket booth, a scenic 10-minute walk leads you into the heart of the event. This path is adorned with the serene beauty of nature, encompassing forests and rivers. The journey is both quick and delightful. In colder years, the walkway is often graced with ice and snow, making snow-resistant footwear a wise choice for visitors.

However, the year 2024 has been warmer, presenting a smooth pathway, as depicted in the picture above.

Arriving at the Site


Upon approaching the event area, visitors are subtly guided through a tunnel, emerging unexpectedly into a breathtaking vista of ice formations—a stunning first impression as one exits the passageway.

This event showcases an expansive ice sculpture, spanning 200 meters in width and reaching heights of up to 30 meters, set spectacularly against the natural backdrop.


It's a grand spectacle, where ice envelops every direction, glistening under the sunlight to create a dazzling, almost fantastical scene reminiscent of a novel's enchanted world. Prolonged exposure might cause a slight discomfort to the eyes due to the brilliance of the ice in sunlight. Additionally, temperatures within the site tend to be cooler than the surrounding areas, especially on cold days. Visitors are advised to dress warmly to fully enjoy the experience.

Effects of Climate Change


The impact of global warming in 2024 has led to noticeably warmer weather conditions, resulting in a reduction of ice formations compared to previous years. During our visit, we observed the ice melting and falling, creating a constant loud noise. This effect was particularly pronounced the day after rainfall. Visitors planning a trip should avoid rainy days or periods immediately following rain, opting instead for times when the temperature is below 10°C. This precaution helps ensure a more authentic and enjoyable viewing experience of the ice formations.

For those curious about how the ice sculptures usually appear in more typical years, click here.


The ice formations in 2024 are notably smaller and less pronounced than in previous years, potentially making the imagery captured in this feature appear somewhat sparse and forlorn. We remain hopeful that future iterations of the event will return to their former glory.


From the vantage point of an observation deck above, visitors can gaze upon the expanse of icicles covering the area, offering a unique opportunity to also photograph passing trains. This spot is a boon for train enthusiasts seeking to capture the essence of trains from a distinctive angle, blending the natural beauty of ice with the mechanical charm of railway transport.

Enjoy a Warm Drink


After enjoying the icy spectacle along the viewing path, you can stop at this cozy spot where hot drinks await, offering a perfect respite from the cold. Included in the admission ticket, you have the choice between two types of complimentary beverages: tea and amazake. Once you've selected your preferred drink, you can settle down on a patio equipped with a fireplace, allowing you to warm up inside and out.


The mention of amazake might lead some to assume it contains alcohol; however, it's actually a non-alcoholic beverage that is made from fermented rice. It's not only safe but beneficial for people of all ages, including children.


For those interested in taking a piece of this tradition home, sake lees for making amazake is available for purchase. Additionally, a small selection of locally produced goods, such as fruits and vegetables, is on sale, showcasing the region's agricultural bounty.


Although the icicles this year may not display their usual splendor due to warmer conditions, there is hopeful anticipation for the return of Japan's customary winter chill next year. This would restore the festival to its full glory, allowing both locals and visitors from the vicinity of Tokyo to once again revel in the beauty of this icy celebration.


Admission: 500 yen, including 1 free drink

Event dates: Jan 13 - Feb 25

Monday-Thursday: 9:00-16:00 / Friday-Sunday (including public holidays): 9:00-20:00

*Illumination begins as the sun is about to set.

Access: A 10-min walk from Ashigakubo Station on the Seibu Line

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