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