Aomori Travel Guide including getting to Aomori Japan, attractions including Onsen and Aomori hotels.
Aomori (Japanese: 青森市; Aomori-shi) is the capital city of Aomori Prefecture (青森県; Aomori-ken), the north end of Honshu. The city faces Mutsu Bay connecting Tsugaru Channel and the Hakkoda Mountains lie in the southern part of Aomori. It has the biggest seaport in the prefecture. Before Seikan Tunnel opened, Port Aomori served the city with train ferry to Hakodate in Hokkaidō, and therefore the main entrance of Honshu for passengers and cargo to and from Hokkaidō.
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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 Waterfront - Picture by Fg2
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
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.
Aomori International Airport (established 1964,
international flights beginning 1995) is about a 30 minute drive from the
city, with bus service available. There are flights to
Tokyo, Itami (near Osaka),
Airport (near Nagoya),
Sapporo, Fukuoka and Seoul, South Korea
(through Korean Air). In summer, flights to Russia (through Dalavia Far East
Airways) are also available.
Aomori train station is located at the downtown, near to the Aomori Port. The station is well served by JR East the northern terminus of the Tohoku and Ōu Main Lines. The Hokkaido Railway Company also runs trains on the Tohoku Main Line track to Hachinohe, and owns the Tsugaru Kaikyo Line to the north which runs through the Seikan Tunnel to Hokkaido.
Ferries to Hakodate run by Seikan Ferry are available. It takes about four hours to go by ferry from Aomori to Hakodate.
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.
Before the early Edo period, Aomori was a small fishing village called Utō (善知鳥村; Utō-mura). It was settled as a seaport in 1612 by Moriyama Yashichirō, the Port Development Officer of Tsugaru han in the order of daimyō Tsugaru Nobuhira. The town name Aomori was given in that day. During the Edo period, the most important place in that area was Hirosaki, the capital of the Tsugaru han and Aomori served this area as a local seaport and trade center.
During the Meiji Restoration the han system was abolished and the prefecture system was established in July, 1871. Aomori became a part of Hirosaki prefecture, succeeding the area covered by the Tsugaru han. Due to a merger on September of that year, Hirosaki prefecture (encompassing the same area as present-day Aomori prefecture) was founded. The prefectural capital however, was moved from Hirosaki to Aomori soon after the merger and the prefecture was renamed to Aomori prefecture. Soon the 5th Infantry Regiment of the Japanese Imperial Army, and later in 1896 the 8th Division of the Japanese Imperial Army were stationed in Aomori.
Memorial to soldiers who died crossing Hakkoda MountainsIn the winter of 1902, more than 200 soldiers died while trying to cross the Hakkoda Mountains during a military exercise. This exercise was a part of preparation for Russo-Japanese War and experiment of activities in severe winter environment. Today it is pointed out this failure was due to poor prepration and organisation and confusion of leadership; another party of exercise departed from Hirosaki and marched around Hakkoda Mountain counterclockwise successed in a similar exercise.
The development of the modern Aomori was due to its prefectural capital status and Seikan ferry which was run by the Ministry of Trains at the beginning and later Japanese National Railways as connection between Port Aomori and Port Hakodate in Hokkaidō, hence the main transport between Honshu and Hokkaidō from 1908 till 1988. Between Tokyo and Aomori, two trains lines were built: Ou Main Line connecting to Akita and Yamagata and Tohoku Main Line connecting to Morioka, Sendai and Fukushima. On the contrary Hirosaki has kept its cultural significance. Aomori is the sole prefectural capital which has no national university in Japan; in Aomori prefecture Hirosaki became the site for this educational facility.
In 1945 the city was bombed by United States Forces.