Difference between revisions of "Gunma"
Revision as of 02:49, 16 May 2013
Gunma is a rural part of Japan with hot springs, a safari park, and plenty of hiking.
For anime fans, Gunma is also the backdrop for the popular street racing/drifting anime called "Initial D".
Gunma prefecture is said to be shaped like a crane in flight, so there is a card - Tsuru mau katachi no gunma-ken in Jomo Karuta (Japanese card game).
In general, Japanese women are strong and they called "Kakaa-tenka". It means a man married a woman from Gunma is henpecked.
Chumou(中毛) - Central Gunma
Saimou(西毛) - Western Gunma
Tomou(東毛) - Eastern Gunma
Hokumou(北毛) - Northern Gunma
Gunma is the exception to the rule in Japan; train service in the prefecture is very limited, particularly in the northern and western parts of the prefecture. Trains are best used as a way to get into the area, rather than used for getting around within.
The Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo goes through Gunma on its way to Niigata. The Nagano Shinkansen takes the same route until Takasaki before branching off. For slower but much cheaper access, the Shonan-Shinjuku Line connects with the Takasaki Line to Takasaki.
Travel to the eastern part of the prefecture is slightly more difficult for those unfamiliar with the Japanese rail system. From Maebashi or Shin-Maebashi Stations a traveller can transfer to the Ryoumo Line to travel across the prefecture to Kiryu. Direct from Tokyo, the Tobu Rail Service provides the bulk of access to east Gunma from their hub at Asakusa Station. The red-striped Ryoumo Line limited express trains cost ￥2400 for service to Ota, Shin-Kiryu, or Akagi stations on the Akagi line; the same price will take a traveller to Isesaki or Shin-Isesaki on the Isesaki Line. Note that these trains share the lines until Ota station and use the same cars; Isesaki Line trains tend to leave on the hour, while Akagi line trains leave on the half hour. Local trains are also available for ￥900-￥1100; these add an hour of travel time in general.
Gunma has the highest proportion of car owners among all prefectures in Japan, and the vehicle is the preferred method of transport. Rental stations are readily available throughout the prefecture for those familiar with it, but for a tourist the most accessible lots are on the east side of Takasaki Station.
Entering the prefecture, the Kan-Etsu Expressway runs North-South through the prefecture, parallel to the free (but heavily trafficked) National Route 17, for entry from Saitama Prefecture or Niigata Prefecture. From the East, the Kita-Kanto Expressway runs to Tochigi Prefecture, parallel to National Route 50.
Virtually all signage in Gunma is bilingual, even in the most distant areas.
You can visit the Yubatake. This is Kusatsu-onsen's landmark waterfall and an unforgettable spot. 4437 litres every minute.
The Maebashi Prefectural Office is a towering coral-colored granite edifice topped and highlighted with purple glass, a symbol of great pride to Gunma residents. Draw your own conclusions about the symbolism while enjoying the view of the otherwise unremarkable capital city from its free observation deck.
You can visit Mt. Shirane, except in winter. On the top of Mt. Shirane, there is a lake called Yugama. Yugama is emerald green, but it seems to be changing throughout the four seasons. The pH level of the lake is about 1.0, so it is known as a lake where the acidity is the highest in the world. It is a famous sightseeing spot.
Takasaki is the home of the daruma doll, a Japanese good luck charm modeled after the famous Buddhist sage Bodhidharma. According to popular lore, he sat meditating for so long that his legs atrophied and fell off — hence the doll's roly-poly egg shape. (In Japanese, snowmen are known as yuki daruma, lit. snow Darumas.) When buying one, it is customary to make a wish and paint one eye, then paint the other if the wish is granted.
Gunma is famous for its winter wheat products. Udon noodles from Mizusawa are considered among Japan's best. Tsumagoi is a famous center of green cabbage production. Gunma is a large producer of negi (long green onions). Shimonita negi are known throughout the country for their sweet flavor and soft and slippery texture when cooked (great for nabe). Shimonita is also famous for konnyaku, a jellied substance made from konnyaku (devil's tongue) root. Konnyaku has little flavor of its own but absorbs the flavor of sauces or soups. It has very few calories so is a popular diet food.