Gunma

- A Hidden Gem In the Center of Japan

About Gunma

Located almost directly in the center of the Japanese archipelago, Gunma Prefecture is a picturesque place filled with bountiful nature that is perfect to visit any time of the year. Thanks to its cool summers, gorgeous autumn foliage, and winter ski resorts, the prefecture is a popular getaway destination, especially among Japanese travelers.

Gunma is particularly famous as one of Japan’s greatest hot spring areas and the prefecture is dotted with onsen resorts that have long been loved by many people, including well-known scholars and other people of culture. The prefecture is also home to a bounty of delicious foods, from regional dishes that make use of locally-produced flour such as udon noodles and fried manju dumplings, to fresh local vegetables and top-brand wagyu beef.

Let us introduce you to the wonders of each of Gunma Prefecture’s amazing areas.

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How to get to Gunma

It’s incredibly easy to get to Gunma Prefecture from Tokyo. You can take a direct train to Gunma’s largest terminal station, Takasaki Station, from major Tokyo stations such as Ueno Station, Tokyo Station, and Shinjuku Station. If you choose to take the shinkansen, you can reach Takasaki Station from Tokyo Station in just under an hour.

Furthermore, many of Gunma’s popular hot spring areas are easily accessible from Tokyo by bus!

How to get to Gunma

Minakami

The Minakami area covers the northernmost part of Gunma Prefecture and is filled with a wealth of nature such as Mt. Tanigawa, visible from Minakami Onsen. This hot spring area has charmed many visitors with its classic onsen town atmosphere and incredibly beautiful mountain gorge scenery.

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Two Days In Minakami

Nestled deep within the mountains of Gunma Prefecture lies the town of Minakami. Although it may seem like an average small-country town, Minakami is the perfect place to explore all the beauty and intrigue that Japan has to offer. Hidden train stations, mountain hikes, canyon rafting, and relaxing hot springs are just some of what you’ll find here.

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Oze

Oze is the name given to the scenic marshlands spanning Gunma, Fukushima, and Niigata Prefectures. It is definitely worth a visit, having been selected as one of Japan’s top 100 scenic views. Admire skunk cabbages in the spring, blooming daylilies and other flowers in the summer, and a carpet of golden leaves in the autumn, all with gigantic mountains towering over you in Oze.

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Stunning Colors! A Two-Day Early Fall Itinerary to Oze From Tokyo

Oze National Park is one of the best places to enjoy early fall foliage near Tokyo. We introduce a two-day trip itinerary that includes hiking to Ozegahara Marshland, an overnight stay at an excellent hot spring hotel, local dining, an impressive waterfall, and a flower temple.

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Shima

Here you’ll find Shima Onsen which was built alongside the Shimagawa River, with the mystical blue Lake Okushima as a backdrop. The hot spring waters here are said to be incredibly relaxing and good for the skin. Why not take a dip and then take in Shima Onsen’s retro townscape and atmosphere?

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An overnight escape to Shima Onsen

Located just under three hours from Tokyo in the mountains of northwest Gunma Prefecture, Shima Onsen is a peaceful hot spring town whose seclusion, unspoilt atmosphere and stunning backdrop of forests, mountains and lakes make it the perfect destination for a short getaway.

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Ikaho

This area is home to Ikaho Onsen which is nearly as popular as the famed Kusatsu Onsen. The onsen town was constructed around a series of stone steps with over 400 years of history and gives off a retro Japanese vibe that people love. While in Ikaho, you can’t miss out on the local cuisine as well, such as Mizusawa udon noodles and onsen manju dumplings, which are said to originate here.

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Let’s Go to Ikaho In Gunma! Awesome Onsen, Autumn Leaves, and Ancient Temples Just a Stone’s Throw from Tokyo

Ikaho is a small town in the mountains of central Gunma Prefecture, which lies to the north of Tokyo. Among Japanese people, it is a popular getaway spot nestled in a beautiful location that is far less crowded than other onsen towns located close to Tokyo. However, it is far less known to international tourists, which is surprising given all of its charm. I recently took a two-day trip to Ikaho and came back with great new memories of hot springs, udon noodles, kokeshi dolls, mystical “power spot” shrines and temples, and so much more.

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Takasaki

Takasaki City is famous as the birthplace of the daruma doll, a traditional Japanese craft and lucky charm. Enjoy its verdant scenery, power spots such as Haruna Shrine, and delicious regional cuisine. We especially recommend strolling through the city to visit sights such as the Tomioka Silk Mill, a World Heritage Site.

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Takasaki - city of the daruma doll

A transport and business hub located just under an hour from Tokyo by shinkansen, the city of Takasaki has remained largely off-radar to the majority of foreign visitors, except perhaps as a stop on the way to Gunma's better known hot spring destinations.

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