The mountainous Minakami area of northern Gunma is a natural playground that's perfect for adventure sports and activities like bungee jumping, canyoning, canoeing, or rafting. With the arrival of the great white winter, snow lovers can revel in a whole new array of activities. Minakami also has excellent onsen that offers a relaxing way to end a high-energy day.
You can get to the Minakami area by shinkansen, regular trains, and buses.
From Tokyo, take the JR Joetsu Shinkansen to JR Jomo-Kogen Station, which takes 75 minutes. From there, transfer to the bus for Minakami Station (25 minutes). Local trains on the JR Takasaki Line run to Takasaki Station in two hours, after which you transfer to the JR Joetsu Line for JR Minakami Station and ride for an hour. Your Japan Rail Pass covers all JR legs.
English-speaking guides are available for most tours and activities in Minakami
Minakami has over a half-dozen ski resorts, some just minutes from the local station
You can pick and eat fruit or make jam at Dole's fruit-themed amusement center—Dole Land
Minakami is known for its crystal clear water and has one of the world's top ten onsens in Takaragawa Onsen. Located on the banks of a fast-flowing stream, this outdoor onsen allows you to enjoy surrounding seasonal changes from the comfort of its healing waters.
There are several other onsen spots in the area, including Minakami Onsen, whose waters are colorless and odorless. If you love a soothing hot bath without the heavy mineral aroma some baths produce, this is just the place for you.
Minakami has a growing reputation for guided outdoor adventure including giant sliders, zip lines, rappelling, and jumps. You can slide down giant snow chutes using the natural contours of the mountains, or ski and snowboard at one of the area's several ski resorts. During the warmer months, you can enjoy whitewater rafting, bungee jumping, mountain biking, and hiking, all in the foothills of Mt. Tanigawa.
Mt. Tanigawa is the highest mountain in the Tanigawa mountain range. On the border of Gunma and Niigata prefectures, this peak also divides the Pacific side and Sea of Japan side, which makes rapid changes in weather common. Mt. Tanigawa is covered in snow for most of the year offering striking views from its summit.
The Tanigawa Ropeway carries you from the foot of Mt. Tanigawa to the base of the ski slopes at Tenjindaira. The 15-minute ride offers stunning views of the mountains on clear days.
Try your hand at Japanese arts and crafts in the popular mountain village Takumi-no-Sato. Learn how to make items out of straw, bamboo, or clay using traditional methods passed down through the generations. You'll feel the passion and warmth of the locals as they teach you their crafts.
Tambara Lavender Park is a flower lover's paradise. This highland slope has more than 50,000 lavender shrubs in full bloom from around mid-July to mid-August. Although the purple carpet of flowers is the main attraction, there is also a colorful array of other flowers such as sunflowers and hydrangeas to enjoy. In the winter months, this area is converted into a beginners' ski slope.