Gunma Prefecture is located right at the center of the Japanese islands. The shape of the prefecture resembles a crane flapping its widely spread wings so much, as it is referred to as “Gunma Prefecture with the shape of a soaring crane” in a local card game which is popular among residents of the prefecture. Not only is Gunma blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, such as famous mountains including Jomo-Sanzan (three famous mountains in Gunma: Akagi, Haruna and Myogi), Mt. Asama and Mt. Tanigawa and Oze national park, but it also has cites where holds history of flourishing culture. It is also at an excellent location to be a strategic spot for transportation.
Gunma Prefecture has more than 200 onsen (hot spring), most notably the four onsen areas, Kusatsu, Ikaho, Minakami, and Shima. The reason this prefecture is famous throughout the entire country as the Onsen Country is not just because there are so many. The onsen in Gunma have a great variety of water compositions, flow rates, histories, and culture. Gunma has many of Japan’s best onsen, including the onsen with Japan’s highest flow rate, the onsen that was selected as the first in Japan’s Top 100 Onsen, the first designated Nationally Certified Onsen, and one of the Three Beautifying Onsen in Japan.
Gunma Prefecture has dynamic natural features including everything from mountains with altitudes of 2000 meters to flat plains mere meters above sea level. Mountain forests occupy two thirds of the prefecture’s area and from the north to the west is a range of mountains and hills. Also, Gunma holds the source of Tone River, which has the greatest basin area of any river in Japan. Since it contains many forests which function as natural dams as well as manmade dams, it is so abundant in water resources that it is called “Tokyo’s Water Tank.” Clean water and lush greenery create natural scenery that changes along with the seasons and moves the hearts of visitors.
Gunma Prefecture is blessed with rich soil and long periods of sunshine so many different agricultural products are produced year round. As a prefecture that supplies many different fresh ingredients, such as grains (rice, wheat, etc.), vegetables, fruits, beef, pork, dairy products, to consumers in places like the Tokyo metropolitan area, Gunma provides safe food that people can feel secure about eating. Also, many famous regional specialties and cuisines use these ingredients; there are areas in the prefecture where everyone in the region builds up excitement about food, such as Maebashi TONTON Town or Takasaki Pasta Town. From fine dishes that please the palettes of gourmets to B class gourmet (dishes that are delicious, inexpensive and provided in abundant amounts), a variety of great cuisine can be found here.
Groups of ancient burial mounds (kofun) exist in different places within the prefecture, most notably the major burial mound groups—Hotoda, Shiroishi, and Yawata Burial Mounds. They show how the east country culture once flourished in ancient time. Also, historical shrines and temples such as Myogi Shrine, Haruna Shrine and Serada Toshogu and other historical architectures and cultural assets exist. With its sublime atmosphere, Haruna Shrine in particular is a popular spot for tourists to visit recently due to its reputation as a vortex , otherwise known as a spiritual power spot.
Of those, modernization heritage sites, notably Tomoika Silk Mill and Megane-bashi (Usui Pass facilities and the bridge), that supported the modernization of Japan in the late 19th century have commanded a lot of attention in recent years. Filled with a lot of character, these relics and cultural assets have roots in this area and could be thought to be reflected even in the Gunma of today.
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