Surrounded by water on three of its sides, Aomori Prefecture's geography and sea area look quite complicated. For example, the Ouu mountain range which stands right in the middle of the prefecture divides Aomori into two. Therefore, the climate varies greatly depending on the region.
Major characteristics of this prefecture are its heavy snow in the Tsugaru region during the winter and Yamase (cold and moist easterly winds) which blows along the Pacific side during the summer.
Aomori was given its name during the Edo period when the Hirosaki clan began building a seaport at the location of the current Aomori city. It is said that this name comes from the green woods (aoi-mori) near Aomori City which served as a landmark for ships entering the port.
Additionally, this prefecture is blessed with nature that is both beautiful and magnificent. Quite unique but indeed true, the Shirakami mountain terrain made up of a virgin beech tree forest has been left almost completely in its natural state, it became the first location in Japan to be designated as a World Heritage site.
With fertile land, Aomori produces many different kinds of agricultural and marine products while traditional dishes rooted in its rich local features are preciously passed down from generation to generation in the rural districts and fishing villages.
The area has plenty of Jomon period ruins, the most famous among them being Sannai Maruyama ruins located in the southwest of the city center, where the remains of a large wooden building was unearthed and revolutionalized Japanese archaeology.
The city was officially founded on April 1, 1898. The town and port was however settled in 1626, in the early Edo period. Recently, it expanded, absorbing the former town of Namioka on April 1, 2005.
Aomori literally means blue (or green) woods. The name is generally considered to refer to a small forest which existed near the town, used by fishermen as a landmark. A different theory suggests the name might have been derived from the Ainu language.
Aomori Nebuta is a famous festival performed from August 2 to August 7 every year. Besides this, major attractions of Aomori include ruins, museums, and mountains. Hakkoda Mountains are good locations for trekking with hot spas. Aomori is also home to several hot spas (onsen), such as Asamushi and Sukayu.
Munakata Shiko Memorial Museum of Art
Aomori City Forestry Museum
Aomori Prefectural Folk Museum
Aomori City History and Folk Arts Museum
Snow and cold weather characterize the winter climate in Aomori. The city and surrounding area are renowned for heavy snowfall, which is said to be the heaviest among Japanese cities. For example, the city recorded a maximum snow cover of 196 cm in 1981. The current record for Sapporo is 164 cm, recorded in 1939. The particularly heavy snow is caused by several winds that collide around the city. This makes the air rise and cool, resulting in cloud formation and precipitation.
In summer, a cool wind called Yamase frequently blows from the east, which sometimes results in extremely cool weather and poor harvests. Additionally, thick fogs are often observed in mountainous areas in the summer. Due to this fog, flights to Aomori Airport are often canceled.