Gunma Prefecture

Gunma Prefecture (群馬県 Gunma-ken) is a prefecture of Japan located in the Kantō region.[1] Its capital is Maebashi.[2]

Gunma Prefecture

Japanese transcription(s)
 • Japanese群馬県
 • RōmajiGunma-ken
Flag of Gunma Prefecture

Official logo of Gunma Prefecture

Location of Gunma Prefecture
SubdivisionsDistricts: 7, Municipalities: 35
 • GovernorMasaaki Osawa
 • Total6,362.28 km2 (2,456.49 sq mi)
Area rank21st
 (May 1, 2015)
 • Total1,971,195
 • Rank19th
 • Density310/km2 (800/sq mi)
ISO 3166 codeJP-10
BirdCopper pheasant (Phasianus soemmerringii)
FishSweetfish (Plecoglossus altivelis)
FlowerJapanese azalea (Rhododendron japonicum)
TreeJapanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii)


The ancient province of Gunma was a center of the horsebreeding and trading activities for the newly immigrated continental peoples. The arrival of horses and the remains of horse-tackle coincides with the arrival of a large migration from the mainland. From this point forward, the horse became a vital part of Japanese military maneuvers, quickly displacing the older Yayoi tradition of fighting on foot.

When Mount Haruna erupted in the late 6th century, Japan was still in the pre-historical phase (prior to the importation of the Chinese writing system during the Nara period). The Gunma Prefectural archaeology unit in 1994 was able to date the eruption through zoological anthropology at the corral sites that were buried in ash.

In the past, Gunma was joined with Tochigi Prefecture and called Kenu Province. This was later divided into Kami-tsu-ke (Upper Kenu, Gunma) and Shimo-tsu-ke (Lower Kenu, Tochigi). The area is sometimes referred to as Jomo (上毛, Jōmō). For most of Japanese history, Gunma was known as the province of Kozuke.[3]

In the early period of contact between western nations and Japan, particularly the late Tokugawa, it was referred to by foreigners as the "Joushu States", inside (fudai, or loyalist) Tokugawa retainers and the Tokugawa family symbol is widely seen on public buildings, temples and shrines.

The first modern silk factories were built with Italian and French assistance at Annaka in the 1870s.

In the early Meiji period, in what was locally called the Gunma Incident of 1884, a bloody struggle between the idealistic democratic westernizers and the conservative Prussian-model nationalists took place in Gunma and neighboring Nagano. The modern Japanese army gunned down farmers with new repeating rifles built in Japan. The farmers in Gunma were said to be the first victims of the Murata rifle.

In the twentieth century, the Japanese aviation pioneer Nakajima Chikushi of Oizumi, Gunma Prefecture, founded the Nakajima Aircraft Company. At first, he produced mostly licensed models of foreign designs, but beginning with the all-Japanese Nakajima 91 fighter plane in 1931, his company became a world leader in aeronautical design and manufacture, with its headquarters at Ota, Gunma Ken. The factory now produces Subaru motorcars and other products under the name of Fuji Heavy Industries.

In the 1930s, German architect Bruno Julius Florian Taut lived and conducted research for a while in Takasaki.

The Girard incident, which disturbed US-Japanese relations in the 1950s, occurred in Gunma in 1957, at Soumagahara Base near Shibukawa.

Four modern prime ministers are from Gunma, namely, Takeo Fukuda, Yasuhiro Nakasone, Keizo Obuchi, and Yasuo Fukuda, the son of Takeo.


Map of Gunma Prefecture Ja
Map of Gunma Prefecture
     City      Town      Village
View from Gunma Prefectural Government Building east
Karasu River and Usui River survey
View from Ota city office south

One of only eight landlocked prefectures in Japan, Gunma is the northwesternmost prefecture of the Kantō plain. Except for the central and southeast areas, where most of the population is concentrated, it is mostly mountainous. To the north are Niigata and Fukushima prefectures, while to the east lies Tochigi Prefecture. To the west lies the Nagano Prefecture, and the Saitama Prefecture is to the south.

Some of the major mountains in Gunma are Mount Akagi, Mount Haruna, Mount Myōgi, Mount Nikkō-Shirane and Mount Asama, which is located on the Nagano border. Major rivers include the Tone River, the Agatsuma River, and the Karasu River.

As of 1 April 2012, 14% of the total land area of the prefecture was designated as Natural Parks, namely Jōshin'etsu-kōgen, Nikkō, and Oze National Parks and Myōgi-Arafune-Saku Kōgen Quasi-National Park.[4]


Twelve cities are located in Gunma Prefecture:

Towns and villages

These are the towns and villages in each district:



Mt.Nakanodake from Mt.Shibutsu 01
Mount Nakanodake viewed from Mount Shibutsu

Because Gunma is situated in inland Japan, the difference in temperature in the summer compared to the winter is large, and there is less precipitation. This is because of the kara-kaze ("empty wind"), a strong, dry wind which occurs in the winter when the snow falls on the coasts of Niigata. The wind carrying clouds with snow are obstructed by the Echigo Mountains, and it also snows there, although the high peaks do not let the wind go past them. For this reason, the wind changes into the kara-kaze.

  • Climate in Maebashi
    • Average yearly precipitation: 1,163 mm (approx. 45.8in)
    • Average yearly temperature: 14.2 degrees Celsius (approx. 57.6 degrees Fahrenheit)


Gunma's modern industries include transport equipment and electrical equipment, concentrated around Maebashi and the eastern region nearest Tokyo. More traditional industries include sericulture and agriculture. Gunma's major agricultural products include cabbages and konjacs. Gunma produces 90% of Japan's konjacs, and two-thirds of the farms in the village of Tsumagoi are cabbage farms. Also, the city of Ōta is famous for car industry, notably the Subaru factory.


Gunma has a traditional card game called Jomo Karuta (上毛かるた).

Kiyoshi Ogawa, a Kamikaze pilot who led the attack on the USS Bunker Hill was born in Gunma.

Melody Roads

As of 2018, Gunma is home to eleven of Japan's over thirty Melody Roads. 2,559 grooves cut into a 175-meter stretch of the road surface in transmit a tactile vibration through the wheels into the car body.[5][6] [7] The roads can be found in Katashina, Minakami, Takayama, Kanna, Ueno, Kusatsu, Tsumagoi, Nakanojo, Takasaki, Midori, and Maebashi. Each is of a differing length and plays a different song. Naganohara also used to be home to a Melody Road playing “Aj, lučka lučka siroka”, though the road in question was paved over in 2013 due to noise complaints.


  • Kusatsu - “Kusatsu-Bushi”
  • Takayama - “When You Wish Upon a Star”
  • Tsumagoi - “Oh My Darling Clementine”
  • Nakanojo - “Always With Me” (Japanese title: いつも何度でも, itsumo nando demo) from Spirited Away when driven at 40km/h
  • Katashina - “Memories of Summer” when driven over at 50 km/h

List of Governors of Gunma Prefecture (1947–present)

Governor Term start Term end
Shigeo Kitano (北野重雄) 12 April 1947 25 June 1948
Yoshio Iyoku (伊能芳雄) 10 August 1948 4 July 1952
Shigeo Kitano 2 August 1952 1 August 1956
Toshizo Takekoshi (竹腰俊蔵) 2 August 1956 1 August 1960
Konroku Kanda (神田坤六) 2 August 1960 1 August 1976
Ichiro Shimizu (清水一郎) 2 August 1976 12 June 1991
Hiroyuki Kodera (小寺弘之) 28 July 1991 27 July 2007
Masaaki Osawa (大澤正明) 28 July, 2007 Present




The sports teams listed below are based in Gunma.


Football (soccer)



Gunma is also famous for its ski resorts in the mountains.

Gunma was the only prefecture in Japan to have all 4 legal types of gambling on races: horse, bicycle, auto and boat. This changed with the closing of the last horse race track in Takasaki in 2004.


Gunma has many hot spring resorts and the most famous is Kusatsu Onsen. Another draw to the mountainous Gunma is the ski resorts.

Other attractions include:





National highways

Prefectural symbols

The prefectural symbol consists of the first kanji of the word 'Gunma' surrounded by three stylized mountains symbolizing the three important mountains of Gunma Prefecture: Mount Haruna, Mount Akagi, and Mount Myōgi.

For marketing, the Prefectural Government also uses Gunma-chan, a small super deformed drawing of a gendered horse character wearing a green cap. It is used on promotional posters, banners and other notable printed materials from the Prefectural Government. Other agencies and companies formally or informally use variations of its likeness and other horse-shaped characters when making signs or notices for work on buildings, roads, and other public notices.


  1. ^ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Gumma-ken" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 267, p. 267, at Google Books; "Kantō" in p. 479, p. 479, at Google Books.
  2. ^ Nussbaum, "Maebashi" in p. 600, p. 600, at Google Books.
  3. ^ Nussbaum, "Provinces and prefectures" in p. 470, p. 470, at Google Books.
  4. ^ "General overview of area figures for Natural Parks by prefecture" (PDF). Ministry of the Environment. 1 April 2012. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  5. ^ Johnson, Bobbie (13 November 2007). "Japan's melody roads play music as you drive". The Guardian. Farringdon Road, London, England: GMG. p. 19 (International section). Retrieved 20 October 2008.
  6. ^ "Your car as a musical instrument – Melody Roads". Noise Addicts. 29 September 2008. Retrieved 20 October 2008.
  7. ^ "Singing Roads – Take a Musical Trip in Japan". ITN. 5 December 2007. Retrieved 20 October 2008.


External links

Coordinates: 36°22′N 139°7′E / 36.367°N 139.117°E

Arte Takasaki

Arte Takasaki (アルテ高崎, Arute Takasaki) were a football (soccer) club based in Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture, formerly of the Japan Football League. Their team colours were black and red.

Arte means art in Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

Gunma Crane Thunders

The Gunma Crane Thunders is a professional basketball team that competes in the second division of the Japanese B.League.

Isesaki, Gunma

Isesaki (伊勢崎市, Isesaki-shi) is a city located in Gunma Prefecture, Japan. As of February 2015, the city had an estimated population of 208,705, and a population density of 1500 persons per km². Its total area is 139.44 km².

Kōzuke Province

Kōzuke Province (上野国, Kōzuke-no kuni) was a province of Japan in the area of Japan that is today Gunma Prefecture. Kōzuke bordered by Echigo, Shinano, Musashi and Shimotsuke Provinces. Its abbreviated form name was Jōshū (上州). Under the Engishiki classification system, Kōzuke was ranked as one of the 13 "great countries" (大国) in terms of importance, and one of the 30 "far countries" (遠国) in terms of distance from the capital. The provincial capital is located in what is now the city of Maebashi; however, its exact location remains uncertain. The ichinomiya of the province is located in what is now the city of Tomioka.


Maebashi (前橋市, Maebashi-shi) is a city located in Gunma Prefecture, in the northern Kantō region of Japan. It is the capital city of Gunma Prefecture.The surrounding cities comprise an urban zone of over 1 million people, separated by farmland to the south from the built up areas of Greater Tokyo.

As of May 2015, the city had an estimated population of 339,701 and a population density of 1081 persons per km2. Its total area is 311.59 km2. It was the most populous city within Gunma Prefecture until Takasaki merged with nearby towns between 2006 and 2009.Maebashi is known to be the "City of Water, Greenery and Poets" because of its pure waters, its rich nature and because it gave birth to several Japanese contemporary poets, such as Sakutarō Hagiwara.

Mount Azumaya

Mount Azumaya (四阿山, Azumaya-san) is one of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains. The 2,354-metre-high (7,723 ft) peak lies on the border of Nagano Prefecture and Gunma Prefecture. There exist alternative spellings of the mountain's name, like: 吾妻山 and 吾嬬山 which is read as "Agatsuma-yama" (Mount Agatsuma). In the village Tsumagoi, the mountain is spelled 吾妻山.

The mountain should not be confused with Mount Azumaya (四阿屋山, Azumaya-san) of which there are two, one in Nagano Prefecture and the other in Saitama Prefecture. Though the reading is the same, the name written in Kanji differs from the mountain in this article.

Mount Kusatsu-Shirane

Mount Kusatsu-Shirane (草津白根山, Kusatsu Shirane-san) is a 2160-meter active stratovolcano in Kusatsu, Gunma, Japan. It is called Kusatsu Shirane to differentiate it from the Mount Nikkō-Shirane on the other side of Gunma Prefecture. The summit of Kusatsu-Shirane volcano, located immediately north of Asama volcano, consists of a series of overlapping pyroclastic cones and three crater lakes. The largest of these is Yu-gama, an acidic emerald green lake with rafts of yellow sulfur sometimes seen floating on its surface.On January 23, 2018, a minor phreatic eruption of the volcano occurred. One person was killed, and others were injured in an avalanche triggered by the eruption. The next day, new activity forced police to suspend search operations. One month after the eruption, it was announced by prefectural officials that only the summit of the volcano was off limits to the public.

Mount Sukai

Mount Sukai (皇海山, Sukai-san) is one of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains. The 2,144-metre-high (7,034 ft) peak lies in the Ashio Mountains of Japan, on the border of Nikkō in Tochigi Prefecture and Numata in Gunma Prefecture. Mount Sukai is an old stratovolcano, but with the whole mountain covered in forest today it does not appear like a typical volcano.

Numata, Gunma

Numata (沼田市, Numata-shi) is a city located in Gunma Prefecture, Japan. As of February 2015, the city had an estimated population of 48,840, and a population density of 110 persons per km². Its total area is 443.46 km², making it the largest city in terms of area within Gunma Prefecture. (The neighboring town of Minakami is the largest municipality in terms of area within Gunma.)


Oze Marshland (尾瀬ヶ原, Oze-ga-hara) is a high altitude marshland in the Oze National Park, Japan.

Approximately 8 km² in size, the marshland is well known for the various species of plants, including the "mizu-bashō" (White Skunk Cabbage), "Nikkōkisuge" (yellow alpine lilies, Hemerocallis dumortieri var. esculenta) and "Watasuge" (Eriophorum vaginatum). The marshland is a popular hiking destination.

Ryōmō Line

The Ryōmō Line (両毛線, Ryōmō-sen) is a Japanese railway line connecting Oyama in Tochigi Prefecture with Maebashi in Gunma Prefecture. 84.4 km (52.4 mi) long, the line is owned and operated by the East Japan Railway Company (JR East). The name refers to the fact that Gunma and Tochigi prefectures were once part of an ancient province called Keno (毛野), which was later split into Kōzuke (Gunma) and Shimotsuke (Tochigi). This line connects both halves of the old province.

Shin-Maebashi Station

Shin-Maebashi Station (新前橋駅, Shin-Maebashi-eki) is a railway station on the Ryōmō Line in Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture, Japan, operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East).

Shoda Shoyu Stadium Gunma

Shoda Shoyu Stadium Gunma (正田醤油スタジアム群馬) (formerly Gunma Shikishima Athletic Stadium, renamed on June 1, 2008 for naming rights) is a multi-purpose stadium in Maebashi, Japan. It is currently used mostly for football matches. Sponsored by soy sauce maker Shoda Shoyu, which has its headquarters in nearby Tatebayashi, the stadium serves as a home ground of Thespakusatsu Gunma. The stadium holds 15,253 people.


Takasaki (高崎市, Takasaki-shi, [takasakiɕi]) is a city located in Gunma Prefecture, Japan. As of December 2015, the city had an estimated population of 371,750, and a population density of 810 persons per km2. Its total area is 459.16 square kilometres (177.28 sq mi). Takasaki is famous as the hometown of the Daruma doll, theoretically representing the Buddhist sage Bodhidharma and in modern practice a symbol of good luck.

Tatebayashi, Gunma

Tatebayashi (館林市, Tatebayashi-shi) is a city located in Gunma Prefecture, Japan. As of February 2015, the city had an estimated population of 75,560, and a population density of 1260 persons per km². Its total area is 60.97 km². Tatebayashi is famous for Azalea Hill Park and Bunbuku Chagama of Morinji Temple.

Thespakusatsu Gunma

For the club in Kusatsu, Shiga, see MIO Biwako Kusatsu.Thespakusatsu Gunma (ザスパクサツ群馬, zasupa kusatsu Gunma) is a professional football (soccer) club based in Maebashi, Gunma Prefecture in Japan. The club plays in the J3 League, the third division of professional football in Japan.

Tonan Maebashi

Tonan Maebashi is a Japanese football club based in Maebashi city, Gunma Prefecture. They play in the Kantō Soccer League.

Tōbu Sano Line

The Tobu Sano Line (東武佐野線, Tōbu Sano-sen) is railway line in Japan, operated by the private railway operator Tobu Railway, connecting Tatebayashi Station in Tatebayashi city, Gunma Prefecture, in a north-north-easterly direction to Kuzū Station in Sano, Tochigi Prefecture.

In February 2005, the old city of Sano, the town of Tanuma and the town of Kuzu were merged into the city of Sano, so this line runs within the two cities of Tatebayashi, Gunma and Sano, Tochigi.

Ōta, Gunma

Ōta (太田市, Ōta-shi) is a city located in Gunma Prefecture, Japan. As of February 2015, the city had an estimated population of 219,531, and a population density of 1260 persons per km². Its total area is 60.97 km².

Shadow picture of Gunma PrefectureGunma Prefecture
Core cities
Special cities
47 Prefectures


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