Set in a bay at the north of Japan's main island of Honshu and framed by mountains, Aomori is a city of nearly 300,000. The history of humans in the area goes back thousands of years. The Sannai-Maruyama historic site has reconstructions of settlements dating to at least 2,000 B.C., and the region's famous copper-colored pottery has a 2,000-year history. However, most of Aomori was destroyed in World War II, and has since been rebuilt.
The region is home to several rowdy summer festivals that wheel huge, illuminated floats through the streets. You can see examples of the floats in museums in both Aomori and Hirosaki.
The surrounding area is famous for apples and, as the region produces nearly 50 percent of Japan's apple crop, you'll find lots of goodies made with apples. All the apple orchards are thanks to out-of-work samurai, who started growing apples when the feudal era ended. Aomori is also known for scallop fishing and a soup called keno-jiru, which contains 34 local ingredients.