Take advantage of Gunma’s clear night skies and natural beauty to enjoy starlit evenings
Last updated: March 03, 2023
With majestic mountains, wide plains and rural areas with low light pollution, Gunma is the ideal destination for stargazing. Soak in outdoor onsen baths under the stars, and enjoy the glow of evening festivals and illuminations.
Escape the bright city lights to enjoy starlit skies. Mt. Tanigawa (1,977 m) is an ideal destination for clear night skies. The Tanigawadake Ropeway offers a special evening service twice a year in late spring and early autumn, carrying visitors up to Tenjindaira Station near the summit. Explore the event space, and enjoy a range of activities, from art events to night strolling by lantern-light. The mountain is illuminated by a vibrant projection mapping display. Warm up with hot cocoa or coffee at Terrace Tenjin, and gaze up at the glow of the Milky Way. Tickets must be purchased online in advance. Events may be canceled due to inclement weather.
Onsen Glamping Shima Blue is a stylish but relaxing accommodation in Shima Onsen within Joshin'etsukogen National Park. Take a break from city life, with forest views, starry skies and the sound of the Shima River. The spacious private huts feature warm wood interiors and a wide terrace for barbecues and stargazing. Each hut has a private outdoor onsen bath using Shima Onsen’s natural spring water. A private sauna has large windows and an outdoor veranda.
Beautiful illuminations and festivals light up Gunma’s gateway cities. Rinkokaku in Maebashi City is a historical state guesthouse from the Meiji era (1868–1912), composed of three elegant wooden structures. The complex and gardens are lit throughout the year in symbolic colors to commemorate historical and international events. Stroll through adjacent Maebashi Park to see the softly-illuminated architecture against a starry sky.
The 41.8 meter-tall Byakue Dai-Kannon watches over the city of Takasaki from the precincts of Jigen-in Temple and is illuminated in different colors for special events. Visit on the fourth Saturday in August for the Mandoe festival, when around 10,000 lanterns light up the temple grounds after sunset.
Summer nights in Gunma are perfect for evening festivals. As the sun sets and the day cools, the large paper lantern floats (some measuring over 7 meters high) of the Ojima Neputa Festival, are carried along shopping streets of Ota City, accompanied by energetic taiko drumming. The festival originated in Hirosaki, Ota’s sister city in Aomori Prefecture, and it has been enthusiastically adopted by the local people. The festival is held over two days every August.
Brilliant fireworks light up the night sky and reflect on the water at Lake Haruna, 12 kilometers from Shibukawa City. The vivid display is part of the Haruna Festival, which starts with a ceremony to release carp into the lake, followed by floating lanterns which carry wishes. Some 3,000 colorful fireworks are then launched from the surface of the lake, illuminating the mountain peaks that surround the caldera lake.
Soaking under the stars is an unforgettable experience. Gunma’s abundant hot springs offer plenty of opportunities for open-air onsen bathing. Near the center of Kusatsu Onsen, Sainokawara Open-air Bath is a 500-square-meter onsen with mineral-rich waters drawn from springs on Mt. Kusatsu-Shirane. On clear nights, relax and unwind under the night sky, as steam rises from the soothing water. On Friday evenings, the baths are open for mixed bathing (bathing wear is available for rental), attracting couples and families to enjoy the night views together.
Minakamikogen Hotel 200 is a modern hotel near Minakami Kogen Ski Resort, surrounded by mountain and forest views. Enjoy an early evening soak in the large public bath on the hotel’s top floor, or at the “Riraku” open-air onsen in the annex building (for hotel guests). The hotel draws its water from the Uenohara hot spring in Minakami. The outdoor baths offer panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and forests, and the stars above. In winter, you can relax in the warm baths surrounded by snowy vistas.
The natural hot springs along the Takara River at Takaragawa Onsen have drawn bathers for over a thousand years. Visitors have stayed for the relaxing benefits of the baths at Takaragawa Onsen Osenkaku since the early twentieth century. Most of the outdoor baths are available 24 hours for hotel guests. Relax in one of the large riverside baths, lit by the soft glow of stone lanterns and glittering constellations.