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Earth : Asia : East Asia : Japan : Kanto : Gunma
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Japan gunma map small.png
Flag of Gunma Prefecture.svg
Quick Facts
Capital Maebashi
Government Japanese Prefecture
Currency Japanese Yen (¥)
Area 6,363.16 km2
Population 2,014,608(2008 est)
Language Japanese(No official language)
Religion n/a
Electricity 100V/50 or 60Hz (U.S. plug, commonly 2-prong without ground)
Time Zone UTC +9(No DST)

Gunma (群馬, also Gumma; [1]) is a prefecture in the Kanto region of Japan.


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).

"Jomo-Karuta" is a very popular card game in Gunma. Everyone grow up in Gunma know this and love it. It shows Gunma's famous place, people, culture, and so on. You can know more about Gunma if you play this game.

In general, Gunma women are said to be strong and they are called "Kakaa-tenka", which means they are the "lady emperor's" of their household.


Gunma Pref Map

Chumou(中毛) - Central Gunma

Saimou(西毛) - Western Gunma

  • Takasaki (高崎) — train line hub and home of the Daruma doll. Japanese famous rock music group called BOØWY is from this city.
  • Tomioka (富岡) A small city known among Japanese for its silk factory. Location of the Gunma Safari Park and a silk-reeling factory.
  • Fujioka

Tomou(東毛) - Eastern Gunma

  • Kiryu (桐生) — pachinko factories, prewar architecture, and gateway to the gorges and valleys of the upper Watarase River valley. The Kiryu Zoo is famous for many kinds of animals and we can enter this zoo for free.
  • Isesaki (伊勢崎) Fastest growing city in Gunma. Quite multiracial for Japan with Brazilian, Peruvian and Indian/Pakistani immigrants. The famous music group "back number" was formed in this city.
  • Midori (みどり) A small newly-formed city located next to Kiryu. Home of the Tomihiro Art Museum, a museum dedicated to a quadriplegic artist, Tomihiro Hoshino.
  • Ota (太田) — home of the Subaru headquarters and Japan's "Little Brazil". Also home to Gunma Kokusai Academy (a school that teaches in the medium of English).
  • Tatebayashi (館林) a small city famous for azaleas and Bunbuku-chagama (racoon dog teakettle). The climate here is very hot in summer season.

Hokumou(北毛) - Northern Gunma

  • Kusatsu (草津) — hot spring resort. A famous place if you are a tourist. Home of Yubatake (hot water stirring), a show is put on where water is splashed using large wooden paddles. It is popular with tourists but the shows are frequent. It is a good photo opportunity. Go by bus, it takes too long by car and there is no train station there. One of football team in J2 league, Thespa Kusatsu Gunma's hometown. Some years ago, the name of this team turned into that from Thespa Kusatsu.
  • Minakami(水上)
  • Numata(沼田)

Other destinations[edit]

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

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.

By car[edit]

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.

Get around[edit]

See[edit][add listing]

Daruma dolls in Daruma-ji Temple, Takasaki

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.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Kusatsu is a very relaxing onsen (hot spring) area. Buy souvenirs such as Yunohana bath essence.
  • Go skiing in an active volcanic area at Mt. Shirane.
  • There is an amusement park called "Runapaaku(るなぱあく)", famous for its low price of the attraction.

Buy[edit][add listing]

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.

Thanks to the popularity of Daruma, there is an interesting lunchbox called "Daruma Bento". The box is shaped like "Daruma". It is popular among people who visit Gunma. And speaking of lunchbox, there is another famous one in Gunma. It's "Torimesi" made by "Torihei(登利平)". Many children eat "Torimesi" in their sports festival or some other events.

There are lavender fields in Numata and Tatebayashi. Good place to refresh yourself.

Eat[edit][add listing]

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.

People in Gunma love to eat noddles such as udon, spaghetti, and "Okkirikomi". "Mizusawa Udon" is famous udon in Gunma. It is chosen as three greatest udon in Japan. Also, there are a famous udon called "Himokawa Udon", which is famous for its flat noddle.

Spaghetti usually have a volume in Gunma. In other prefecture like Tokyo for example, its volume is usually 100 grams for a dish. Compare to that, restaurant in Gunma serve spaghetti for 150 grams. And there are some restaurant serve 200 grams!!

"Okkirikomi" is a traditional food in Gunma. The main food is a flat udon, and also put famous food in Gunma like burdock(ごぼう), konnyaku, and so on in it. It is seasoned by miso, which is also popular in Gunma.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Get out[edit]

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