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Aomori, Japan: Travel to one of the world's snowiest cities

Aomori City, Japan (CNN) – Twenty-five feet of snow – enough to bury a two-story house. And then a little. There was so much snow that fell last year in Aomori City, in the northern Tohoku region of Japan. But it was just another winter in this coastal city that is home to nearly 300,000 people. Every year, this northern prefecture capital stumbles upon heavy snowstorms and ice storms, making Aomori one of the snowiest major cities on the planet and an exciting travel alternative. The extreme snowfall is caused by chilly Siberian winds sweeping into Japan from the northwest every November. When the cold air crosses over the warmer water from Japan's mountainous coast, it collects moisture, then rises and becomes snow. And much of it. Aomori City has received more than eight meters of snowfall already in the first months of this year. Trucks carry excess snow to an Aomori port where it is dumped in the sea. CNN Sea-effect snow Japan's so-called "sea-effect snow" leaves much of Aomori City and its surrounding suburbs adorned in a thick layer of powder during the winter. The ground is almost completely white to April. The roof is covered. Subway is obstructed. Many of the city streets are defined by walls of packed ice that grow longer each time snow plows try to clear the road. Julia Minatoya grew up on the outskirts of Aomori City. The snowdrifts in her backyard are so great every winter that her family cannot use…

Aomori City, Japan (CNN) – Twenty-five feet of snow – enough to bury a two-story house. And then a little.

There was so much snow that fell last year in Aomori City, in the northern Tohoku region of Japan. But it was just another winter in this coastal city that is home to nearly 300,000 people.

Every year, this northern prefecture capital stumbles upon heavy snowstorms and ice storms, making Aomori one of the snowiest major cities on the planet and an exciting travel alternative.

The extreme snowfall is caused by chilly Siberian winds sweeping into Japan from the northwest every November. When the cold air crosses over the warmer water from Japan’s mountainous coast, it collects moisture, then rises and becomes snow.

And much of it. Aomori City has received more than eight meters of snowfall already in the first months of this year.

Trucks carry excess snow to an Aomori port where it is dumped in the sea.

CNN

Sea-effect snow

Japan’s so-called “sea-effect snow” leaves much of Aomori City and its surrounding suburbs adorned in a thick layer of powder during the winter.

The ground is almost completely white to April. The roof is covered. Subway is obstructed. Many of the city streets are defined by walls of packed ice that grow longer each time snow plows try to clear the road.

Julia Minatoya grew up on the outskirts of Aomori City. The snowdrifts in her backyard are so great every winter that her family cannot use most of the doors or windows on the first floor of their home.

“It’s a constant fight for everyone here every day,” she says, snow plowing in her hand, when healthy blisters dump the snow back on the driveway, which she has just managed.

Furukawa, Aomori, offers some of Japan’s best seafood.

CNN

A winter wonderland

Despite constant snowstorms, Aomori City does not close during the winter.

On the contrary, it is turned into a winter wonderland for skiers and other tourists who seem to froze in the snow.

Many visitors will try some of Japan’s freshest and best seafood. The suppliers sell it in bulk or at the bit at Furukawa, the city’s central shellfish market.

The local specialty is Nokke Don, a rice bowl with a variety of fillings – like raw tuna, squid or sea bass – which you choose from different stalls.

An onsen ryokan – Japanese hot spring in – at Aomori’s Mt. Hakkoda.

CNN

“The best season for fish in Aomori is winter, especially cod fish, with many coming to these waters for spawning,” says Yone Natsume, a fisherman at Furukawa.

For powder dogs, the nearby Hakkoda Mountains offer some of the wildest backcountry slopes in the world.

American Tim Roberts recently traveled here from the United States with some friends. The group spent several days snowboarding down both groomed and ungroomed courses at Hakkoda.

“This place is a bit different because there are not so many snow trails in the mountain. It’s a real type of independent adventure, find your own way,” he tells CNN Travel.

After a long day on the slopes, many skiers are in one of Hakkoda’s onsens – hot sulfur springs found in these volcanic peaks.

Aomori Mount Hakkoda is a popular ski area.

Aomori Prefecture / JNTO

White Impulse & # 39;

Traveling to Aomori City is not difficult, even when it is snowing. It’s a three hour trip from Tokyo on Japan’s high-speed train.

Or you can fly into the city’s premier international airport, located on a mountain above the city. Aomori Airport handles about 20 flights a day.

It is possible to land and take it off even in winter because of the airport’s massive snowball team, which calls itself White Impulse.

The 120-team team drives dozens of heavy snowmobiles several times a day to keep the airport’s only runway free of ice during the worst winter weather.

Over two decades of operations at Aomori Airport, no flights have ever been delayed or interrupted due to snow on the track, said Daishuke Saito, a White Impulse snow removal company.

“When I see that airplanes land and take off safely because of what we do, it makes me proud. It is a real sense of achievement,” he says.

Snow heating of $ 35 million

Despite the snow, Aomori Airport is about 20 flights a day.

CNN

Of course, removing snow from the runway and the roads around Aomori City solves only part of the problem – it has to go somewhere.

To prevent build-up, platforms rent excess snow to the harbor along the city’s northern Mutsu Bay coast. There it is loosened in the sea.

The trucks work all day, every day.

Last winter season, the snow removal operation in Aomori City cost $ 35 million, according to local officials.

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