Gunma Prefecture is a part of the Kanto Region and known for being one of the prettiest rural locations in Japan. Much of the prefecture is covered in inviting hot springs as well as majestic mountains, leading the region to be considered a kind of wellness retreat for those who want to get out of large cities and recharge.
The capital of Gunma is Maebashi, although the real draw here is exploring the countryside and enjoying the wide-open spaces such as parks and gardens.
If you like to go hiking, then Gunma won’t disappoint you, and its abundance of onsens (traditional Japanese bathing facilities) makes the perfect place for a long soak after a hard day.
Getting to Gunma:
If you are traveling from Tokyo, then you can take the Joetsu Shinkansen (high-speed railway) which stops in Gunma before continuing to Niigata.
If you are traveling from Nagano, then you can take the Nagano Shinkansen to Takasaki. The Shonan-Shinjuku Line also runs to Takasaki in Gunma and is a cheaper way of getting to the region if you don’t want to take the Shinkansen service.
If you would like to explore the eastern section of the prefecture, then this is a little more complicated, and you will need to travel to the capital of Maebashi first before changing on to the Ryoumo Line which connects to Kiryu.
From Tokyo, you can also take the Tobu Rail Service to East Gunma from Asakusa Station, using the Ryoumo Line.
This service costs ¥2,400 and will take you to Ota or Shin-Kiryu. There is also a service that costs the same price and travels to Isesaki using the Isesaki Line.
As a result, you will find plenty of car rental services here, and if you want to explore much of the prefecture including outlying areas, then renting a car and driving yourself would be the best option.
Oze National Park
You can, in theory, visit the park on a day trip from Tokyo although if you want to stay a little longer, then there are a variety of huts here that you can rent overnight.
As well as its warm and soothing waters, Kusatsu is located in the mountains and sits at around 1,200 meters above sea level making it a great place to go skiing in the colder months.
You can visit the mill and find out how silk has been produced here for centuries and treat you to some silk clothing as a souvenir of a trip to Tomioka.
This town is known for its stone steps that cut through the streets and stretch for 300 meters, and you can also stay in traditional Japanese guesthouses here called ryokan.
Shopping and Duty Free:
Den en Plaza Kawaba
The roadside station is also known for its delicious hand-made soba noodles made by using local buckwheat.
Tsukiyono Vidro Park
Recommended times to visit:
In the winter months, it snows very heavily so, although this area is known for its ski resorts, some areas would be closed due to heavy snowfall.
If you want to hike in Oze National Park, then the spring and summer months see the blooming of skunk cabbage and lilies, and as many such people try to visit around this time.