Prefectural capital, Aomori is a compact city, a stopover point for travelers en-route to Hokkaidō and a regional transport hub. There are a handful of attractions scattered around the city including a pleasant harbourfront area near the station. Aomori's most famous draw is its Nebuta festival, in August.
Formed by a series of violent volcanic eruptions, Towada-ko, within the Towada-Hachimantai National Park is the largest crater lake in Honshū (52km in circumference), hemmed in by rocky coastlines and dense forests. Just as beautiful, its tributary, the Oirase keiryū (mountain stream), winds its way to the Pacific Ocean.
The Hakkōda-san area is one of intense natural beauty and a sad history: in 1902 a regiment of 210 Japanese soldiers on a winter training exercise were caught here in a severe snow storm. All but 11 men perished, carving out a place for Hakkōda-san in the collective Japanese psyche. Today, most hikers tackle Honshū's northernmost volcanic range between May and October.