No. 3: Toyama City (or Yamagata City)
AccuWeather looked at snowfall rates in cities with 100,000 or more people to give Toyama City (population about 415,000) the No. 3 position in the world, with an average 363 centimeters (143 in) of snowfall.
Now, we don’t know exactly which years AccuWeather used, because the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) lists Toyama City's average annual snowfall at 383 centimeters (151 in) between 1981 and 2010. Meanwhile, Yamagata City, the capital of Yamagata Prefecture (population about 250,000), recorded an average annual snowfall of 426 centimeters (167 in) over the same 30-year period. So it may be that Japan has four cities in the Top 4—assuming there were no other cities overlooked in the AccuWeather report.
In addition to its snowfall, Toyama is known for its 300-year-old Owara Kaze-no-Bon Festival and the delicious seafood drawn from Toyama Bay. Yamagata, on the other hand, is known for the hot springs and stunning ski resorts of Zao Onsen, as well as the "Three Mountains of Dewa," or Dewa Sanzan, a trio of holy sacred mountains just to the northwest.
No. 2: Sapporo
AccuWeather gives the No. 2 "snowiest cities in the world" position to Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido (population nearly 2 million). The JMA gives Sapporo an average snowfall of 597 centimeters (235 in) over the past 30 years, while AccuWeather lists it at a lower 485 centimeters (191 in).
Sapporo hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1972, and since then it has become one of the most prestigious tourist spots in Japan, on par with Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. Known for its extremely orderly cityscape, many Japanese people say Sapporo is the ideal city to which they'd like to move! It's also a gateway for travelers looking to begin an adventure in Hokkaido, Japan's northernmost main island.
No. 1: Aomori City
Aomori City is the snowiest city in the world with a population of more than 100,000 people. It sits at the northern tip of Japan's main island, and the JMA gives it an average 667 centimeters (262 in) of snowfall per year! (AccuWeather gives an even larger average of 792 cm/312 in—so sure, we'll take the win?)
The capital of Aomori Prefecture, Aomori City has a population of about 280,000. It faces Aomori Bay to the north while snowy Mount Hakkoda buttresses its southeastern corner. The city is renowned for its Nebuta Festival, while the Sannai Maruyama Site offers a wealth of historical artifacts from the Early to Middle Jomon Period (5,500 to 4,000 years ago). Aomori Prefecture is also the kingdom of apples in Japan, and more than the half the nation's apple production comes from this prefecture.
Honorable Mention: Akita City
We would be remiss if we did not also mention Akita City, which comes in at No. 7 on the AccuWeather list. With a population of about 310,000, AccuWeather gave it 272 centimeters (107 in) of snowfall, while the JMA accorded it an average of 377 centimeters (148 in) over the last 30 years—which still puts it behind Toyama and Yamagata, but respectable nonetheless.
Akita City is the capital of Akita Prefecture, located just southwest of Aomori. The prefecture is known for the Yokote Kamakura snow festival, the historic town of Kakunodate, the Nyuto Onsen hot spring region, and its tradition of terrifying children with New Year's demons called Namahage.
At least four—if not five—of the snowiest cities in the world are all in Japan! So now when you think about Japan, in addition to samurai, temples, trains and technology, you should also probably think of lots and lots of snow in the winter! There's a reason why parts of the country are called "Snow Country"!