Aomori (青森市, Aomori-shi) in Aomori Prefecture is the northernmost prefectural capital city on Honshu, Japan’s main island. This port town used to be the main departure point to Hokkaido via ferry; and, although it remains the main port for car ferries, the opening of the Seikan Undersea Railway Tunnel and the advent of cheap flights have reduced ridership and many travelers now bypass the city altogether. Today Aomori is best known for its spectacular Nebuta Matsuri summer festival.
Aomori and its surrounding area are renowned for heavy snowfall, the heaviest among all Japanese cities, and, in fact, among the heaviest in the world. In February 1945 the city recorded a maximum snow cover of 209 centimetres (82 in), but the extreme low of −24.7 °C (−12 °F) was recorded 14 years earlier. In contrast, Sapporo’s heaviest snowfall occurred in 1939, and that was only 164 centimetres (65 in), and more northerly Wakkanaihas recorded similar maxima. The particularly heavy snow is caused by several winds that collide around the city that makes the air rise and cool, resulting in quick, thick cloud formation followed by intense precipitation.