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Gunma fights back against 'unpopular prefecture' label

By Haruka Masumizu

Gunma was recently voted one of the least popular prefectures in Japan. Respondents on an Internet poll referred to Gunma as an “uncivilized place” or “unexplored region.” The problem is that people in Gunma are very modest, saying “We have nothing here” (“Nannimo nainsabe” in their dialect).

Though Gunma is supposed to be famous for its unique udon (noodles) and hot springs, Kagawa Prefecture got the jump on Gunma when it rebranded itself as “Udon Prefecture,” while Oita has already gained recognition as “Onsen Prefecture.”

In an effort to lift the status of his prefecture, Gunma Gov Masaaki Osawa formed an exploratory team to highlight Gunma’s attractions and submit a report. “If we can’t boast about our own prefecture, then we can ask outsiders to explore Gunma and objectively write a report about it,” Osawa said.

The chosen leader for the team was action movie star Hiroshi Fujioka, whose last name is said to have its origin in Fujioka, Gunma Prefecture. The guide is Gunma’s cute mascot Gunma-chan, who has been voted the 3rd most popular “yuru kyara” (mascot character) for the past two years in the National Yuru Kyara Grand Prix.

This month, the prefecture will reveal what the team found out on its website in manga form, which they consider the best communication tool for both adults and children as well as foreigners.

The 1st volume features “onsen” followed by Gunma’s unique udon called “okkirikomi” and “sukiyaki.”

Next up, Gunma is planning a promotional battle -- “Revenge of Gunma” -- against Kagawa and Oita prefectures.

A Gunma government official said, “We are not making fun of our prefecture. We want to draw people’s attention to Gunma.”

© Japan Today

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Nice idea, go go Gunma-chan

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Been to Gunma. Beautiful place! Very very friendly hard working people.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Gunma is now my favorite spot for snowboarding / skiing. It's fairly close to Tokyo but the snow quality is good. Gotta love the hot springs and let's not forget shimonita negi!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

So, is there any link to the poll results?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yay! Shimane and Tottori made it out of the dumps. Oh, wait... We didn't make the list because no one knows we actually exist as prefectures.... Sigh....

3 ( +3 / -0 )

We're famous for sauce katsudon but Utsunomiya steals that from us. We're famous for Intial D of course. Also when you murder someone in Tokyo it's the closest place to bury the body.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

After living in Gunma for three years I can agree that it's true, there's not much in Gunma. Kusatsu is great thou. With an eight km long ski/snowboard course and high sulfur onsens (you can even smell it while you're going down the slopes), Kusatsu is my favorite ski resort. Other than that there's really nothing much. Delicious and unique udon? They should really try to attract people with something else coz going to Gunma just to eat udon is just pointless.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Recently I met a young lady from the US who had spent a year in Gunma. She said that whenever she told Japanese people what part of Japan she'd stayed in, they burst out laughing.

On the other hand, a few years ago spoke with a young Japanese lady who'd studied in the US for several months. When I asked her where, and she replied "Oklahoma," well I'm afraid I burst out laughing too.

Hey, I wonder if anyone will ever write a musical called "Gunma!"

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Gunma Prefecture may be a bit "boring," but you can't ignore the famous onsen resorts at Kusatsu and Minakami and the fact the cost of living in Gunma is a small fraction of that in Tokyo. Indeed, thanks to the Joetsu Shinkansen and the JR East Takasaki Line, much of the southern part of this prefecture has become a bedroom community for people working in Tokyo.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Gunma is one of my favorites. I really like going to the onsens and the camping is nice. You can go paragliding, white-water rafting and bungee jumping in the same day. It's also right next door to my mainland number one, Nagano. It's better than quite a few others. Saitama should be lower than Gunma.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I live in Gunma for a while. Places like Isesaki, Ota and others can be more international than parts of Tokyo, due to the large amounts of Brazilians, Peruvians and other foreigners living there and working in the factories. The JET teaching community was particular vibrant, too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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