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Aomori, Japan

Each change of season brings fresh new beauty to the coastal city of Aomori. The blush of cherry blossoms greets you in spring, while in winter the forests of the surrounding mountains are so heavily laden with snow that the trees appear to be giant white beasts. The port is dominated by Aomori Bay Bridge, offering great views of both the city and the harbor and mirroring the striking triangular design of the Aomori Prefecture Tourist Center. The skyline’s contemporary angles result from the city’s destruction during World War II and rebuilding thereafter, but Aomori also celebrates ancient societies that settled here millennia ago. Surprisingly, you’ll be reminded of this prehistoric past at the 21st-century museum of modern art, as its architecture pays homage to the nearby excavations of ancient ruins. After exploring the museums and markets, relax at the caldera lakes and natural hot springs in the lush countryside.