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Gumma

A textile producing center hemmed in by mountains. Renowned hot-spring resorts, such as Kusatsu, Ikaho and Minakami
Gumma, situated in the northwest of the Kanto plains, abounds with celebrated mountains and hot springs, having the Ashio and Taishaku Mountain Regions to the east and Mt. Nikko-san, Mt. Shirane-san and Mt. Hotaka-yama volcanic clusters and a number of hot-springs to the northeast. Across the prefectural borders with Niigata and Fukushima expands Oze-ga-hara, an elevated marshland. This scenery of mountains has produced many poets and novelists prominent in the history of literature. With the arrival of modern times, the sericulture industry flourished to produce prosperous textile towns such as Maebashi City, the center of prefectural administration, Kiryu, Tomioka and other places.

There are many fine hot springs frequented by many tourists all the year round, including Kusatsu-onsen Hot Spring known for its traditional yumomi (hot spring stirring) dance and rich yubatake (field of hot water), the spa of Ikaho lined with hot-spring quarters along the stone stairways called "Ishi-dangai" and an overhanging stretch of Japanese styled hot-spring inns along the Minakami Valley, and last but not least the noted Minakami-onsen Hot-Spring long loved by men of letters in particular. Gumma is also blessed with places known for their scenic beauty, such as Yugama, a crater lake of Mt. Shirane-san with unique milky green water in it, magnificent Mt. Tanigawa-dake equipped with a ropeway that carries you up to the summit and the Watarase Valley in which you can enjoy a magnificent view of nature from a slow-moving sightseeing train.

Getting there
Two hours and 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station to Tokyo Station by the Tokaido Shinkansen Line. It is an hour ride from Tokyo Station to Takasaki Station by the JR Joetsu Shinkansen Line, then 10 minutes from Takasaki Station to Maebashi Station by the JR Ryomo Line.
 

  • Hanashiki and Lake Nozori-ko
    About 300 kinds of alpine plants - Lake Nozori-ko, 1,545 meters above sea level
    Lake Nozori-ko, in the north of Kuni-mura Village, located in the northwestern part of Gumma, is an alpine lake, 1,545 meters above sea level. It is a man-made lake with 12 kilometers in circumference, created in the middle of the 20th century accompanied by the construction of a dam for a power station, and now is a source of the Nakatsu-gawa River. About 300 kinds of alpine plants are known to be growing around the lake. There are campsites, bungalows, and lodges around the lake, which can accommodate as many as 3,000 people. The place is also known to anglers as a good fishing spot of trout and carp.

    In the center of Kuni-mura Village, there are three hot springs, Hanashiki, Shiriyaki, and Yunotaira, which used to be called Fuyusumi-no-sato (A village to live in during the winter), because formerly the heavy snow prevented the workers in Kusatsu from moving, so that they had to stay there waiting for the winter to end. The conditions at that time can be learned from the materials exhibited in Fuyusumi-no-sato Shiryokan Museum. At Akaiwa district in Kunimura Village, there is a hot spring called Onsen-Center Chouei-no-Kakureyu, run by the village, where the villagers enjoy bathing. The bathhouses for men and women command fine views in all seasons, and tourists can also enjoy them. At Yama-mura Square, which faces Bade-Rokugo (the spa facility), the hometown snow festival is held in winter.

    Getting there
    Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station is 2 hours 30 minutes from Ueno Station by the JR new limited express Kusatsu. Then take a bus from Naganohara-Kusatsu Station to Hanashiki-onsen, which takes 30 minutes (the service to Lake Nozori-ko is not available in winter). Tokyo Station is 2 hours 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. Ueno Station is 7 minutes from Tokyo Station by the JR Yamanote Line.

     

  • Ikaho-onsen Hot Spring and Mt. Haruna-san
    Located on a highland slope at the northeastern foot of Mt. Haruna-san, Ishidan-gai of 360 steps lined on both sides with souvenir shops and inns
    Ikaho-onsen is a hot spring resort located on the highland rising 720-820 meters above sea level at the northeastern foot of Mt. Haruna-san in the central part of Gumma. The hot spring is said to have been found in the 7th century. The spring is of sulfate and of carbonic acid, and its concentration is so high that it sometimes dyes towels red. The source of the spring is somewhat back of the town, at a spot 850 meters above sea level, and each inn draws from it.

    The point worthy of note is Ishidan-gai (the stone steps street) consisting of 360 steps that stretch 300 meters between Ikaho On-sekisho Checkpoint and Ikaho-jinja Shrine. The checkpoint is said to have a history of about 400 years. There are souvenir shops and inns standing along both sides of the stone steps, and there are also four observation points on the way, from which you can watch, through pieces of glass, the hot spring flowing to each inn. Hara Museum Arc (modern art museum) and Ikaho Sistina Trick Art Museum are also some other popular spots.

    Mt. Haruna-san is a dual volcano. It is also one of the Jomo Three Mountains, the other two being Mt. Myogi-san and Mt. Akagi-san. In the caldera, it is flat, and Haruna-Fuji at the central volcanic cone and Lake Haruna-ko, a crater lake, are points worthy of note. On the lake, you can enjoy boating, skating, and anazuri fishing of pond smelt, and you can also enjoy cycling around the lake.

    Getting there
    Shibukawa Station is about 1 hour 45 minutes from Ueno Station by the JR Joetsu Line new limited express. Then take a bus from Shibukawa Station to Ikaho-onsen, which takes about 30 minutes. Tokyo Station is 2 hours 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. Ueno Station is 7 minutes from Tokyo Station by the JR Yamanote Line.

     

  • Kusatsu and Shirane
    Hot spring found by a German doctor - Highland routes for hiking
    Kusatsu is located at the southeastern foot of Mt. Shirane-san in the northwestern part of Gumma. The city became well known about 120 years ago when Dr. Balz, a doctor of medicine from Germany, found its hot spring to be very effective. In Kusatsu-onsen Hot Spring, there are eighteen public baths. Each bath has a different effect and different fountainhead. Most of them operate twenty-four hours a day.

    In the center of the hot spring town, Yubatake, one of the fountainheads, and Netsu-no-yu, where yumomi (stirring hot water with paddle-like wooden boards to cool it down) demonstrations are shown, are crowded with many tourists throughout the year. There are many places for tourists to visit where they can learn a lot about the nature and the hot spring. The Kusatsu Alpine-Plant Museum and the Kusatsu Hot-Spring Museum are but two of these. Mt. Shirane-san is the generic name for the active volcanoes Mt. Shirane-san, Mt. Hon-Shirane-san, Mt. Komenashi-yama and Mt. Yokote-yama, all of which belong to the Nasu Volcanic Zone. The crater on the mountaintop consists of Yugama, Kogama, and Mizugama, and from their slopes columns of smoke rise. Near the mountaintop, Shiga-Kusatsu-kogen Route is available for tourists to enjoy hiking, and this is also a popular ski resort. Manza-onsen Hot Spring, at the western foot of the mountain is well-known as a hot spring of high quality milky-white water.

    Getting there
    Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station is 1 hour 10 minutes from Ueno Station by the JR new limited express Kusatsu. Then take a bus from Naganohara-Kusatsuguchi Station to Kusatsu-onsen, which takes 30 minutes. Then take another bus from Kusatsu-onsen-bus terminal to Shirane-kazan, which takes 35 minutes. Tokyo Station is 2 hours 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line. Ueno Station is 7 minutes from Tokyo Station by the JR Yamanote Line.

     

  • Minakami-onsen and Mt. Tanigawa-dake
    A hot spring resort, where you can also enjoy outdoor sports - Mt. Tanigawa-dake perpetually covered with snow
    Minakami-onsen Hot Spring Resort, located in the northern part of Gumma, is said to have been founded in the 16th century, and is a generic term for Minakami, Yubiso, Tani-gawa, Unose, Takara-gawa, and Yuno-koya Spas. Minakami Town, which includes Minakami-onsen Hot Spring, commands very fine views of Mt. Tanigawa-dake, Mt. Hotaka-dake, and Mt. Shibutsu-san. The town has several scenic spots such as Lake Fujiwara-ko, Lake Togen-ko, and Lake Okutone-ko. The town is also known for ski resorts such as Tenjin-daira. You can also enjoy outdoor sports such as rafting.

    Mt. Tanigawa-dake is a mountain located in the northwestern part of Gumma, on the border with Niigata. The mountain belongs to the Joshinetsu-kogen Highland National Park. It consists of two peaks, Tomano-mimi and Okino-mimi, also called two mimi (two ears). It is also known as the lowest mountain in Honshu (the main island of Japan) to have perpetual snow. It takes about 10 minutes to cover the 2.3 kilometers between Tanigawa-Doai-guchi and Tenjin-daira, 1321 meters above sea level, by the Tanigawa-dake Ropeway. You can enjoy the grandeur of the Tanigawa Mountains out of the window of the ropeway, an always fascinating sight.

    Getting there
    Jomo-kogen Highland is 1 hour 20 minuets from Tokyo Station by the JR Joetsu Shinkansen Line. Then take a bus from Jomo-kogen Highland to Minakami-onsen, which takes 10 minutes. To Mt. Tanigawa-dake, take another bus from Jomo-kogen Highland to the Tanigawa Ropeway, which takes 55 minutes. Tokyo Station is 2 hours 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line.

     

  • Mt. Akagi-san
    A crater lake near the mountaintop - A base for outdoor recreation and nature observation
    Mt. Akagi-san, one of the Jomo Three Mountains, located in the eastern part of Gumma, is the generic name for mountains including Mt. Kurobi-san and Mt. Jizo-dake. The inside area of the outer rim of the mountain is designated as Akagi Prefectural Park. Near the mountaintop, between the central crater and outer rim, there is a crater lake, called Ono.

    At Lake Ono, you can enjoy camping and boating in summer, and in winter you can bore holes in the frozen surface of the lake and enjoy fishing for pond smelts through the ice. Around May, you can enjoy observing the flowers of mizubasho, skunk cabbage, a rare kind of plant growing in swamps and irises as well as Nikko-kisuge, yellow alpine lily. Around Lake Ono, there is a 4-kilometer hiking course, and you can enjoy the nature there to your heart's content. At Mt. Akagi-san, besides the Akagi Nature Park, there are leisure facilities such as Gumma Flower Park and Akagi-kogen Highland Pasture, and Kronenberg, which is a reproduction of a German theme park. Asahi-no-taki Falls, 20 meters high, flowing from the Arato-gawa River, is another point worthy of note, around which there are outdoor baths available for day-trippers.

    Getting there
    Takasaki Station is 1 hour from Tokyo Station by the JR Joetsu Shinkansen Line. Maebashi Station is 10 minutes from Takasaki Station by the JR Ryomo Line. Then take a bus from Maebashi Station to Akagi-san-Visitor, which takes 28 minutes.

     

  • Oze
    High moor abounding in as many as 400 shallow pools - Creeping pines growing in stands and virgin forests of beeches
    Oze, forming the boundaries among the three prefectures of Gumma, Niigata, and Fukushima, is the generic name of the areas surrounded by the mountains of Oze-ga-hara, Oze-numa, and other nearby mountains such as Mt. Hiuchi-ga-take, Mt. Keizuru-yama, and Mt. Shibutsu-san. It is one of the central parts of Nikko National Park.

    Oze, set on a plateau 1,400-1,700 meters above sea level, is the largest high moor in Japan, which was created by the lava from Mt. Hiuchi-ga-take which dammed up the Tadami-gawa River. About 400 shallow pools are spotted here and there. Rare bog plants such as mizubasho (Japanese skunk cabbage) and nikko-kisuge(yellow alpine lily) grow in patches, and floating islands of peat layers are visible. Both creeping pines growing in stands and virgin forests of beeches stretch to the nearby mountains, and all these areas were designated as a special natural monument of Japan in 1960.

    In the colonies of bog plants, trails of logs and wooden planks are laid out as hiking tracks, and mountain huts are available. Lots of travelers visit here especially when the blossoms of mizubasho are at their best in summer and when the leaves turn red in autumn. On the upper stream of the Kita-Tadami-gawa River, whose source is Oze, there are scenic spots such as the grand falls of Sanjo-no-taki Falls.

    Getting there
    Jomo-Kogen Station is 1 hour 20 minutes from Tokyo Station by the JR Joetsu Shinkansen Line. Then take a bus from Jomo-Kogen Station to O-shimizu, which takes 2 hours 10 minutes. Tokyo Station is 2 hours 30 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station by the JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line.

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  Information provided by Japan National Tourist Organization.

 

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