Gunma prefecture is located in the northwest of the Kanto region, at the geographic center of Japan. A large portion of the prefecture is mountainous, but most of Gunma’s largest cities are in the plains. Three major mountains—Mt. Akagi, Mt. Haruna, and Mt. Myogi—dominate Gunma’s landscape.
Although often thought of as inaka (countryside), Gunma has a mix of both city and outdoor attractions. In Gunma’s city areas, you’ll find numerous museums, malls, shopping centers, sports centers, clubs, bars, restaurants, theme parks, and more. Outside the city, Gunma has many other ways to entertain, such as mountain climbing, hiking, skiing, rafting, “canyoning”, biking, onsen (hot-spring baths), museums — the list goes on. Gunma is famous for its winding mountain roads, and motor enthusiasts or Initial D fans can find plenty of places to enjoy themselves.
For those interested in culture, you’ll not find it lacking in Gunma—the summer is packed with festivals. There are also plenty of temples, shrines, and other religious sites, and many places in Gunma offer demonstrations, examples, and hands-on instruction in traditional arts, crafts, and cooking.
Due to Gunma’s diverse geography, weather throughout the prefecture can vary wildly. The Spring weather is excellent for all kinds of outdoor adventures and is complemented by blooming flowers and gentle breezes. During the summer, Gunma is hot and humid, and the temperature in the cities often exceeds the upper 30’s. Sudden thunderstorms and rain showers are common, particularly during tsuyu (the rainy season that begins in June). Autumn is perfect for hiking and exploring as the temperatures cool and the landscapes turn into a stunning sea of reds and oranges. Winters can be cold, and higher elevations often experience heavy snow. Gunma winters are famous for the karakkaze of Joshu —dry, cold winds of impressive intensity that blow down from the mountains.
Gunma has several public transportation options available. However not all areas are serviced and the majority of Gunma’s residents rely on private vehicles. Public services may only run two or three times an hour in urban areas, and once every hour, or even less frequently, in rural areas. For more information on the various public transport options available, please check out the transport guide.
Gunma is close enough to Tokyo that it is easily accessible, with local lines reaching inner-city areas in about three hours, or a mere 45 minutes by shinkansen in some areas.
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