- Locations in Japan
LJC Spotlight – What is it like living in Gunma?
What is it like living in Gunma prefecture?
Gunma is a landlocked prefecture located north of Tokyo, neighboring Nagano and Niigata prefectures, and is surrounded by incredibly beautiful scenery and countless hot spring resorts (onsens).
Gunma is also a great place for skiing in the winter months as it has many mountains. So what is it like living in Gunma? Join Link Japan Careers as we find out!
Places of Gunma prefecture
Takasaki city is the largest city in terms of population in Gunma beating Maebashi and is famous for being the city that created the daruma dolls that are widespread throughout Japan. It is also famous for holding the Yamada Denki company headquarters. Takasaki is quite accessible to several famous sites, including the Kumano shrine, Gunma Safari Park (by car), and mount Haruna.
The Kumano shrine is an interesting shrine that is located within both the borders of Gunma and Nagano. It is roughly an hour and twenty-minute drive from Takasaki. The shrine itself is famous for being a power spot, and its Shinano tree is famous for being rumored to strengthen relationship connections. As a result, it is quite popular with matchmaking couples. There are also plenty of walking trails on both the Gunma and Nagano sides and throughout Karizawa.
Gunma safari park
Located south of Tomioka and roughly a forty-minute drive from Takasaki, Gunma safari park is a fun place to visit. There are several tour options available, including driving within the park or boarding one of the tour buses (shaped like various animals). The park itself has several animals (according to the website, over one-hundred), including animals such as white tigers. What’s more, located next door is a small theme park, so you will not be running out of things to do.
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Tomioka silk mill
If you are more interested in history, there is a lot more to see in Tomioka, such as its famous Tomioka silk mill. Although being closed since 1987, the site has become a UNESCO world heritage site as it commemorates Japan’s first government ran silk factoring in 1872. The architecture of the modern silk factory buildings is well preserved. It showed an interesting example of Japan’s silk production when Japan tried to become the modern country it is seen today.
It is a popular hot spring town located between Nagano city and Takasaki, and this onsen town is an iconic part of Gunma. The Kusatsu onsen itself can refer to several places, including the Yubatake, which is located in the town’s center, the Sainokawara Rotemburo – a large communal outdoor bath surrounded by nature, or the Otakinoyu – A place with multiple baths. The town also has the largest flow of onsen water in Japan.
In addition to the main locations listed above, the town also has a dozen smaller baths tourists or locals can use. Finally, no onsen town would be complete without the ashiyu (Foot baths). There is definitely something special about this town, and if you can make the journey, Kusatsu Onsen is a great place to see the beautiful landscape.
Oze National Park
Arguably the most famous park in Gunma is Oze. The park has many popular hikes and trails that are very popular to walk during the late spring season or fall. The hike trails themselves are not inclined so that a decent hiker can complete most of them within six to eight hours. Even if you cannot complete the hike in one day, you can stay at one of the many mountain huts located within the park with some proper advance booking.
Ikaho Onsen is a forty-five-minute drive from Takasaki town, and while not as famous as Kusatsu, it is still well known for its hot springs, temples, and some stone stairs (rumored to be over 500m!)
The hot spring water itself has a slightly reddish hue, and this is due to its high iron concentration.
The water is said to improve blood circulation and can promote health in many ways. There are many public baths available for day travels to visit, but you can also stay at one of the many ryokans.
Ikaho Onsen is accessible by public transport but is a little inconvenient, and a trip from Takasaki is likely to take a couple of hours. If you do decide to travel by bus and train, we recommend staying the night.
Ikaho Onsen is also famous for the Mizusawa temple. This temple has some unique architecture with its two-story pagoda. It is also famous for its types of udon. In particular, the Mizusawa udon – one of the 3 most recognized udon noodles in Japan!
Lake Haruna is a beautiful lake with some ryokans and natural sites to visit. There is also a ropeway that you can use that offers sights of Mount Haruna. What’s more, it is only twenty minutes drive from Ikaho onsen, so it is an easy place to access on the same day.
It is not only an attractive hot springs town with some of the most iconic sights and incredible landscape of Gunma, but it is also a popular site for some extreme sports such as bungee jumping, white-water rafting, and canyoneering! The best time to visit the Minakami area is in April and June, where the snow caps have melted their most. If you want a little bit of excitement during your relaxation at a hot spring resort, we recommend checking out Minakami.
What to eat in Gunma?
Konnyaku (Konjac) is made from a type of plant, and besides being gluten-free, it also has basically zero calories. Interestingly, over 90% of Konnyaku for Japan is made in Gunma. It is so popular there is even a Konnyaku theme park. If you find yourself living in Gunma you are likely to eat Konnyaku at some stage.
Yakimanju is not your regular Manju (Japanese sweet) for all extents and purposes. It is a monster sweet and is huge. Manju is a very popular sweet in Japan, and in Maebashi, they took it to the next level by making a large Manju covered in miso paste. It even has its own festival on January 11th.
Okkirikomi is a type of soup and noodles that is somewhat of a famous dish in Gunma, made from local vegetables including daikon radishes.
Gunma is a prefecture with a number of hot springs and exciting hike trails. If you are a fan of nature and beautiful scenery, we recommend consider living in Gunma prefecture, today. For a look at all of our prefecture coverage be sure to check out our link here.