Gunma Prefecture

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

Symbol of Gunma Prefecture
CountryJapan
RegionKantō
IslandHonshu
CapitalMaebashi
Government
 • GovernorMasaaki Osawa
Area
 • Total6,363.16 km2 (2,456.83 sq mi)
Area rank21st
Population (March 1, 2008)
 • Total2,014,608
 • Rank19th
 • Density317/km2 (820/sq mi)
ISO 3166 codeJP-10
Districts7
Municipalities35
FlowerJapanese azalea (Rhododendron japonicum)
TreeJapanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii)
BirdCopper pheasant (Phasianus soemmerringii)
FishSweetfish (Plecoglossus altivelis)
Websitewww.pref.gunma.jp
 
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Gunma Prefecture
Japanese transcription(s)
 • Japanese群馬県
 • RōmajiGunma-ken

Symbol of Gunma Prefecture
CountryJapan
RegionKantō
IslandHonshu
CapitalMaebashi
Government
 • GovernorMasaaki Osawa
Area
 • Total6,363.16 km2 (2,456.83 sq mi)
Area rank21st
Population (March 1, 2008)
 • Total2,014,608
 • Rank19th
 • Density317/km2 (820/sq mi)
ISO 3166 codeJP-10
Districts7
Municipalities35
FlowerJapanese azalea (Rhododendron japonicum)
TreeJapanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii)
BirdCopper pheasant (Phasianus soemmerringii)
FishSweetfish (Plecoglossus altivelis)
Websitewww.pref.gunma.jp

Gunma Prefecture (群馬県 Gunma-ken?) is a prefecture of Japan located in the northwest corner of the Kantō region on the main Honshu island.[1] Its capital is Maebashi.[2]

History[edit]

Japan was without horses until around the fifth century CE.[citation needed] 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 at 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.

Geography[edit]

Map of Gunma Prefecture
Maebashi
Takasaki

One of only eight landlocked prefectures in Japan, Gunma is the northwestern-most 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 Nagano Prefecture, and 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]

Cities[edit]

Twelve cities are located in Gunma Prefecture:

Towns and villages[edit]

These are the towns and villages in each district:

Mergers[edit]

Climate[edit]

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.

Economy[edit]

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.

Culture[edit]

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

Gunma is home to two of Japan's four Melody Roads, which is made from grooves cut into the ground, which when driven over causes a tactile vibration and audible rumbling transmitted through the wheels into the car body.[5][6] It consist of 2,559 grooves cut into a 175 meter stretch of existing roadway. When driven over at 50 km/h it produce the tune of "Memories of Summer".[7]

Education[edit]

Universities[edit]

Sports[edit]

The sports teams listed below are based in Gunma.

Football (soccer)[edit]

Rugby[edit]

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

Tourism[edit]

Many places in Gunma are famous for their hot spring resorts. Another draw to the mountainous Gunma is the ski resorts.

Other attractions include:

Transportation[edit]

Rail[edit]

Roads[edit]

Expressways[edit]

National highways[edit]

Prefectural symbols[edit]

Flag of Gunma Prefecture

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 horse character wearing a green cap. He 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 his likeness and other horse-shaped characters when making signs or notices for work on buildings, roads, and other public notices.

Notes[edit]

  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". 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. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]

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