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The long and narrow country of Japan is divided into what are called the 47 prefectures, but are actually 43 prefectures, 2 urban prefectures (Osaka and Kyoto), one territory (Hokkaido), and one metropolis (Tokyo).

Each area has their own unique nature, with their own good characteristics and peculiarities.

Of course, when you talk about sightseeing in Japan, places like Tokyo and Kyoto are famous, but other than that there are plenty of sightseeing areas to go to.

Among those areas is Gunma, a prefecture in the northwestern region of the Kantou area.

The northern portion of the prefecture is home to a range of rich forest, and it has many nationally famous mountains as well as plenty of hot springs.

The western side shares a border with Nagano prefecture, and the famous sightseeing spot of Karuizawa is right in front of you.

Here are 7 of the most recommended sightseeing areas in Gunma.

Haruna Shrine

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This shrine is very famous as a power spot, a place where people go to re-energize.

Around it is Lake Haruna, a caldera lake, as well as many of hot spring resorts and shops.

Myougi Shrine

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This place is often used for filming for Japanese historical dramas.

It’s also designated as a national important cultural property.

Tomioka Silk Mill

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Designated as a UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage spot, this is Japan’s first modern machine silk reeling factory.

Usui Pass Heritage Railway Park

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Old Japanese trains and railway cards are exhibited here.

It’s also very popular as a theme park where you can experience riding these trains.

Kusatsu Onsen

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In the Edo Period, this was considered the best onsen in the country, and is still famous today.

Kusatsu Onsen’s water ranges from 50°C to 90°C (122°F to 194°F), so they cool the water by the traditional means of stirring the water with wooden paddles.

Ikaho Onsen

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This is a famous hot spring area that is regularly chosen as Japan’s most recommended hot spring town.

Ikaho Onsen is such a representative area of Gunma that there is even a song that goes “ikaho onsen nihon no meitou” (“Ikaho Onsen is Japan’s well-known hot spring”).

Minakami Onsen

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Minakami Onsen village is so large that it’s been given some administrative powers from the government.

All of the hot springs in the area command views of valleys and mountains. If you go in the fall when the mountains are covered in the turning foliage, it is a beautiful scene.

Shima Onsen

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This area runs along the Shima River and has been designated as the number one health resort hot spring.

The characters of Shima mean “40,000.” The quality of the water is such that it’s said that the area was named that because it cures 40,000 illnesses.

Sawatari Onsen

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This hot spring is so good for one’s skin that it’s said that if you take just a single bath in the water, your skin will become pearly like eggshell. That history is so ancient it’s said that the shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo, the first shogun of the Kamakura Shogunate, bathed there.

Kita-Karuizawa

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It’s adjacent to Nagano’s Karuizawa, and is famous for being a cool resort area in the summer thanks to its high elevation.

The vegetables grown on the plateau are particularly delicious, and many restaurants and boardinghouses in the area specialize in using only those delicious locally grown ingredients.

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