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GUNMA Prefecture

Area: 6,363 km2
Population: 1,984 million
Region: Kanto
Capital: Maebashi

photo by akifldcs

Gunma is a prefecture of Japan located in the northwest corner of the Kantō region on the main Honshu island, famous for its high quality hot springs and beautiful mountains. Gunma also hosts a safari park and plenty of hiking trails and has cities that hold history of flourishing culture.
Prefectural capital is Maebashi.

Maebashi is the capital city of Gunma Prefecture, only one hour away from Tokyo by train. It has an estimated population of 339,491 and covers an area of about 311.64 km2.
It is located at the foot of Mt. Aka and surrounded by Mt. Harlan and Mt.Myogi. Two rivers run thorough the city, the Tone River, Japan’s second largest and the Hirose River.
The city is known to be the “City of Water, Greenery and Poets” because of its pure waters, its rich nature and because it gave birth to several Japanese contemporary poets.
Here, many other outdoor activities such as golf, skiing and rafting as well as a great variety of hot springs can be enjoyed throughout the year.
Some of the most famous hot spring resorts are Manza Onsen, Japan’s most sulphuric waters, Kusatsu Onsen, one of the countries best hot springs, Minakami Onsen and Idaho Onsen, famous for its stone stairs.

[Some of Gunma’s main tourist attractions]
Oze National Park, a National Park with a excellent hiking trails in the mountains, located at about 150 km north of Tokyo. Oze is most well known for the Ozegahara Marshland and Ozenuma Pond. The park can be visited in a day trip from Tokyo with an early start but it is also possible to say overnight.
Mt. Kusatsu-Shirane, one of the 100 famous mountains in Japan
Kazawa Yunomaru Plateau, a place famous for its masses of Japanese azaleas.
Tamara Lavender Park, a beautiful purple carpet of flowers that can be enjoyed during the peak season from mid-July to mid-August. Over 50,000 lavender shrubs are planted here.
Fukiware Falls, a must -see 7 meters high and 30 meters wide waterfall. Over one million people visit each year.
The treasure garden, a 8 hectares park of different kinds of beautiful flowers such as roses, nemophila, moss phlox, etc.
Rose garden in Shikishima Park , a park where 7,000 roses were planted in 600 different varieties.

During the winter season, a variety of slopes are available for beginners to advanced skiers and snowboarders to enjoy winter sports.
Gunma Prefecture has over 20 ski resorts in the northern part that are usually opened from mid -December. The operating days depend on the snow falls of that year.
By train
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.

By car
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.
Virtually all signage in Gunma is bilingual, even in the most distant areas.
Because the plain land stretches out to the south and many mountains are situated in the north and the west, Gunma has various types of weather.
In the South, Gunma has a humid climate with high temperatures and much rain in the summer.
The winter comes with strong dry winds causing cold temperatures, however snow rarely falls.
In the North, winter comes with a lot of snow and rain due to the seasonal winds. For that reason, many ski resorts are located in areas such as: Agatsuma, Minakami, Katashina, Tambara and Kawaba.
During summer Gunma’s weather is hot and humid with nights getting a little cold in the mountains.
In the winter strong dry winds come down from the mountains. Snow rarely falls, however mornings and nights can be particularly cold.
A lot of snow falls in the mountains.
During summer, you should be fine if you wear a short-sleeved shirt, t-shirt or a dress, however a long sleeved shirt is highly recommended if you choose to go near water or to the mountains.
In the winter, be sure to bring warm clothes such as winter coat or jacket, hat, scarf and gloves. Winter boots are advisable if you are going to the mountains.
For the spring and autumn a light jacket should keep you warm.
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