#1. Mt. Haruna & Lake Haruna & Haruna Shrine
Mt. Haruna is one of the Jomo-Sanzan, the most famous of three mountains in Gunma. Lake Haruna is a caldera lake near the summit of Mt. Haruna. At an elevation of close to 1,100 meters and surrounded by mountains, the beautiful waters of Lake Haruna reﬂect the colors of each changing season. There are hiking trails maintained along the outer rim of the crater that surrounds the lake and various ﬂowers can be enjoyed during each season from late-April through late-September. There are also fantastic light shows held near the lake during the winter. Also in winter, the lake will be frozen and you can enjoy ice fishing for wakasagi. In the summer, many people enjoy camping and fishing. You can enjoy boat riding all season round.
10 minutes from Lake Haruna, Haruna Shrine stands amidst a majestic formation of strangely shaped rocks that rise straight from the earth. With an approximately 1,400 year history, the shrine has attracted the faithful throughout the years. The shrine’s historic buildings and the giant 600 year old tree provide numerous highlights, including pavilions that have been integrated with the rocks. In recent years it has attracted attention as a spiritual power spot, with many tourists coming to visit.
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Mt. Haruna & Lake Harunako & Haruna Shrine
Address: Harunakomachi, Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture
Access: 90 minutes bus from Tasaki Station
Phone: 027-374-5111 (Haruna Tourist Information Center)
Website: Mt. Harunayama, Harunako Lake and Haruna Temple (Japanese)
#2. Onsens in Gunma
Photo Credit: Tomo@Flickr
Ikaho Onsen is located halfway up Mt. Haruna at an elevation of 700 meters. It has a long history as its name even appears in the Manyoshu, Japan’s oldest surviving collection of poems, said to have been edited in the late seventh and late eighth centuries. Here you can enjoy two types of onsens: “Kogane no Yu” (Golden Water), in which the iron contained in the water has oxidized to form a distinctive brownish-red color; and “Shirogane no Yu” (Silver Water), the gushing was only discovered in recent years. The 300 meter long path with 365 stone steps at the center of the onsen resort creates a unique atmosphere. This onsen resort is also known as the birthplace of onsen manju (steamed bean-jam buns).
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Ikaho Onsen Tourism Center
Address: 541−4 Ikahomachi Ikaho, Shibukawa-shi, Gunma Prefecture
Access: 25 minutes by bus from Shibukawa Station
Hours: 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Website: Ikaho Onsen
Photo Credit: 小熊出沒@Flickr
Kusatsu has the largest natural flow of hot spring water in all of Japan, much of which surfaces at the Yubatake in the town center. The resort town has constantly occupied a top spot in onsen rankings. It is difficult to beat Kusatsu in terms of quality and quantity of the water. Kusatsu’s waters can be enjoyed at the town’s public baths and ryokan. The most prominent public baths are the Sainokawara Rotemburo (large outdoor pools in Sainokawara Park), the Otakinoyu with its unique Awaseyu baths that features multiple wooden pools with different water temperatures, and the Gozanoyu, a beautiful wooden building next to the Yubatake with two simple, traditional baths. In the center of the town there is a facility symbolizing Kusatsu Onsen, “Yubatake” where you can view the “Yumomi”, a traditional method of cooling down the hot spring water to bathing temperature that includes dancing and singing. Performances are held daily. Close to “Yubatake” you can take a foot bath at “Yukemuri-tei” around the clock.
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Kusatsu Onsen Tourism Center
Address: 28 Kusatsu, Agatsuma District, Gunma Prefecture
Access: 250 minutes by expressway bus from Shinjuku Station
Website: Kusatsu Onsen
Photo Credit: yuanchih chen@Flickr
Takaragawa Onsen is one of the onsen resorts in the Minakami Onsen area. It boasts the largest open-air bath in Japan which is extremely popular with foreign tourists. Takaragawa Onsen stands at the uppermost area of the Tone River, surrounded by rich nature. This secluded hot spring resort has a wide variety of gorgeous outdoor baths, some of which can be used by both men and women. A long time ago, the area was well-known for the baby bears that would come and bathe in the water.
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Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku
Address: 1899 Fujiwara, Minakami, Tone District, Gunma Prefecture
Access: 35 minutes by bus from Minakami Station
Website: Takaragawa Onsen
#3. Onioshidashi Park
The name “Onioshidashi” literary means “Ogre pushed off the rocks.” When Mt. Asama erupted, people believed that Ogre pushed off lava and rocks formed the natural park. The area is also called the sea of rocks. Besides the opportunity to take a closer look at volcanic rocks of various curious shapes, Onioshidashi Park also offers nice views looking over nearby towns and of Mt Asama on clear days. Because it is located over 1300 meters high up in the mountain, there are many mountain flowers you can see during the seasons. Onioshidashi Park is located just across the prefectural border in Gunma Prefecture, and is well visited in combination with Karuizawa.
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Address: 1053 Kamahara, Tsumagoi Village, Azumagun, Gunma Prefecture
Access: 40 minutes by bus from Karuizawa Station
Hours: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Fees: 650 yen
Phone: 0279-86-4141 (Tsumagoi Village Tourist Information Center)
Website: Onioshidashi Park (Japanese)
#4. Fukiwarenotaki Falls
Fukiware Falls is one of the best 100 waterfalls in Japan, which has 7 meters (21ft.) height and 30 meters (90ft.) width. The rapid stream gushing down from both sides and hitting the river bottom is a spectacular sight. The Fukiware Falls are often referred to as “the Niagara Falls of Japan”. Although they don’t come close in terms of size, they live up to their name due to their shape and for the impression they usually leave on visitors. In the winter, the fall is completely frozen and illuminated. Visitors are able to walk up and get close to the Fukiware Falls. Further downstream, the Masutomi Waterfall can be found, and the whole area is surrounded by forestation and a number of walking trails, making this the ideal rural spot to escape the hustle and bustle of Tokyo.
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Address: Okkai, Tonemachi, Numata City, Gunma Prefecture
Access: 40 minutes by bus from Numata Station
Phone: 027-856-2111 (Numata City Tourist Information Center)
Website: Fukiwarenotaki Falls (Japanese)
#5. Mt. Myougisan
Mt. Myogi sits on the borders of Gunma and Nagano Prefectures. It is an area of weathered rocky peaks and is counted as one of the Three Great Places of Rare Scenic Beauty. On the eastern slope of the mountain, there is Myogi Shrine founded in 537 which has been a central shrine on the ancient mountain for worship in this area. The Myogi Road, running 15km long from Myogi Shrine to Sakura no Sato where 15,000 cherry trees of about 50 kinds are planted and show brilliant beauty during blossoming seasons, is also known by the name of Myogi autumn leaves line, beautiful fall leaves surround the road.
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Address: 6 Myougi, Myogicho, Tomioka City, Gunma Prefecture
Access: 10 minutes taxi from Matsuida Station
Phone: 0274-62-5439 (Tomioka City Tourist Information Center)
Website: Mt. Myougisan (Japanese)
#6. Morinji (Raccoon) Temple
Morinji Temple is a Soto-Zen temple famous for the Bunbuku Chagama folk tale about a raccoon that transformed into a steel pot used by the temple priest. There are many old legends regarding the teapot here, which is considered a treasure of the temple. Due to legends, the temple is decorated with numerous images of raccoons.
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Morinji (Tanuki Temple)
Address: 1570 Horikucho, Tatebayashi City, Gunma Prefecture
Access: 10 minutes walk from Morjinjimae Station
Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Fees: 300 yen
Website: Morinji Temple (Japanese)
#7. Tomioka Seishijo (Silk Mill)
Tomioka Silk Mill in Gunma Prefecture, was Japan’s first mass-production silk mill, using techniques and experts brought over from France. Having recently become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tomioka Silk Mill is set to become a much more famous tourist spot in Japan. Tomioka Silk Mill is famous for its red brick buildings and interesting history that shaped the future of Japan. Tomioka Silk Mill is a model mechanized silk-reeling factory established by the Meiji government in 1872 for the modernization of Japan. After the Meiji Restoration, the government pushed forward the modernization of industry and sciences in order to put Japan in a position of equality with foreign countries. The industry in which the government put the most effort to gather the founds necessary for this task was raw silk export. The government decided to establish a national model factory equipped with Western silk-reeling machines in order to improve raw silk quality, to raise production and train technical supervisors. This is how Tomioka Silk Mill was built and it remains today in an almost perfect condition.
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Tomioka Seishijo (Silk Mill)
Address: 1 Tomioka, Tomioka City, Gunma Prefecture
Access: 10 minutes walk from Joshu Tomioka Station
Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Fees: 1,000 yen
Website: Tomioka Silk Mill
#8. Ueno Skybridge
Ueno Skybridge is a suspension bridge, spanning across a valley 90 meters above the ground. Completed in 1998, the main span is reported to be a lengthy 225 meters. In summer (and on weekends in spring and fall), the bridge’s built-in bubble machines release thousands of bubbles for your viewing and popping pleasure. The event lasts for 15 minutes and they start every 30 minutes between 10:00 AM to 3:30 PM.
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Address: 662 Kawawa, Uenomura, Tanogun, Gunma Prefecture
Access: 40 minute walk from Uenomura Village Office Entrance bus stop
Hours: 8:30 AM – 5:15 PM
Fees: 100 yen
Website: Ueno Skybridge (Japanese)
#9. Gunma Safari Park
Photo Credit: safari.co.jp
Gunma Safari Park is the first safari park in eastern Japan where you can see 1,000 animals of 100 species brought over from Africa and America. You can ride a private vehicle or a safari bus to take a close look at the wild animals that roam the extensive grounds including lions, tigers, and elephants. At feeding time visitors can feed animals from the bus, which is very popular. Aside from the park, there is a theme park with roller coasters, event hall, family restaurants, and a barbecue terrace. You can spend the whole day here.
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Gunma Safari Park
Address: 1 Okamoto, Tomioka City, Gunma Prefecture
Access: 10 minutes taxi from Joshu-Tomioka Station
Hours: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM
Fees: 2,700 yen
Website: Gunma Safari Park (Japanese)
#10. Akagi Kronenberg
Photo Credit: Akagi Kronenberg
Akagi Kronenberg is a theme park in Maebashi. As the name suggests, the park is a replica of a rural town in Germany. It features a ranch where you can interact with animals and a German restaurant where you can enjoy sausages and beer. There are classes where you can enjoy experiencing making butter or ice cream. There are sheep herding performances by sheepdogs.
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Address: 2331 Naegashimacho, Maebashi City, Gunma Prefecture
Access: 20 minutes taxi from Akagi Station
Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Fees: 1,200 yen
Website: Akagi Kronenberg (Japanese)
#11. Mt. Shiranesan Yugama
Mt. Shiranesan is one of the 100 famous mountains in Japan. “Yugama”, the crater lake at the summit is impressive for its emerald green water. With a pH of approximately 1.0, it is known as the most acidic lake in Japan.
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Mt. Shiranesan Yugama
Address: Kusatsu, Kusatsu-machi, Agatsuma-gun, Gunma
Access: 60 minutes by bus from Naganoharakusatsuguchi Station
Website: Mt. Shiranesan Yugama (Japanese)
#12. Mizusawa Udon
Photo Credit: ume-y@Flickr
Gunma Prefecture is a major production area for quality wheat. Tasty udon noodles can be enjoyed anywhere in Gunma. Mizusawa udon is famous as one of the three most delicious udon in Japan. Made only from pure water, quality flour, and specially selected salt, it is firm, somewhat thick, and semi-transparent, providing it a unique character. It is generally served cold with dipping soup. Mizusawa’s udon can be traced back about 400 years, when hand-cut udon was given to visitors of Mizusawa Temple in Gunma’s Shibukawa City. Since the temple was located only about three kilometers from Ikaho Onsen, a hot spring district popular since the eighth century, Mizusawa udon developed with a major tourist trade in mind as well. Today, there are 13 Mizusawa udon shops in the Mizusawa Temple area.