Maebashi is a city located in Gunma Prefecture in the northern Kanto region of Japan. As the capital of Gunma Prefecture, the Maebashi area is an urban region with over a million people. Due to the proximity and easy access to Tokyo (one to two hours) many people from the area commute to Tokyo.
Although close in proximity, there is much contrast between Maebashi and Tokyo. Maebashi, once famous as a castle town, is now known as the city of water, greenery and poets.
The waters coming from nearby mountains is known to be some of the purest water in Japan. The mountain waters form two rivers that pass directly through the city. These are the Hirose River and the Tone River, Japan’s second longest river. Rich natural surroundings and an abundance of open fields for agriculture and spacious parks such as Shikishima Park help contribute to the greenery portion of Maebashi. Maebashi has also given birth to many contemporary Japanese poets such as Sakutaro Hagiwara, considered the father of modern poetry in Japan.
Maebashi is surrounded by mountains and famous for its abundance of natural hot springs. Mount Akagi and Mount Haruna are the two closest mountains and were made famous for being portrayed in the drift racing manga/anime series Initial D. Mount Haruna also has a mountain lake that freezes over in the winter which allows for ice fishing.
Maebashi neighbors a few notable cities in Gunma including Takasaki, the largest city in Gunma Prefecture and Isesaki City, which was also once a castle town. As a tourist destination, The nearby Ikaho Onsen is a famous mountain hot springs destination that turns a fiery red color in the autumn.
The origin of the name Maebashi comes from centuries ago when there was a bridge (bashi) that served as the crossing point of the Tone River. A small stable (umaya, shortened later to mae) was erected nearby the bridge for rest and refreshment.
Maebashi has humid sub-tropical weather, with a few key exceptions. In the winter the dry winds blow in from the north known as the “karakaze”. This contributes to Maebashi being one of the sunniest places in all of Japan. In the summer Maebashi is one of Japan’s hottest destinations which on occasion has reached temperatures as high as 40 °C (104 °F).