Drinks, food, culture, and nature after dark
Last updated: December 21, 2020
Gunma’s rich natural scenery of mountains, streams, foliage, and hot springs conjures images of quiet nights in. However, Gunma has a wealth of nightlife opportunities that range from hole-in-the-wall city bars and lively izakaya pubs to traditional performances and stargazing. Although Gunma is a great destination for getting away from it all, there are ample nighttime activities to enjoy.
Takasaki is the gateway to Gunma, as shinkansen trains to the prefecture all stop at Takasaki Station. The area around the station is among the most built-up parts of Gunma, and has the nightlife options you would expect from a reasonably sized city. Hop from restaurants serving Japanese specialties or Takasaki’s famous pasta to a boisterous izakaya or cozy bar. The main nightlife areas are easily traversed on foot and are close to the station, meaning you don’t need to worry about transportation.
Kusatsu is one of Japan’s premier onsen destinations and Gunma’s most developed onsen town. As a result, Kusatsu provides a range of nighttime entertainment beyond dinner and drinks at your ryokan inn. Head to one of the friendly izakaya and bars serving local fare and Gunma sake for a nighttime tipple. For more unusual evening entertainment, see a rakugo performance at Netsunoyu. Rakugo is a traditional style of solo storytelling, often with a comical theme. Even if you can’t understand the words, the rhythm and spectacle make for a worthwhile cultural experience.
A nighttime stroll around the picturesque town is magical in itself. The atmosphere is amplified in winter when snow covers the rooftops, and the Yubatake spring in the center of town is illuminated with shimmering lights.
During the day, Minakami is a hub for outdoor adventure, from backcountry skiing and snowshoeing to whitewater rafting. The area’s nighttime activities similarly maximize the surrounding nature. Minakami’s seclusion and mountainous location mean minimal light pollution, making it ideal for stargazing. Throughout most of the region, you can enjoy clear night skies filled with glittering stars. On certain weekends in spring and autumn, take a nighttime ride up the Tanigawa Ropeway to see the stars from 1,300 meters in the air. If you’ve had your fill of the outdoors, opt for a relaxed evening in a local izakaya in one of the onsen towns.