My Town: Minakami, Gunma Prefecture

I’m now living in a small town in rural Japan, working for Bungy Japan on the construction team, renovating staff accommodation, preparing Bungy platforms for installation and installing platforms at the bungy locations.

The town is Minakami, which is in the north of Gunma prefecture, right in the middle of Japan’s largest and main island Honshu.

Minakami is an interesting town, famous for its Onsens, Ski Fields and outdoor adventure tourism (Bungy Jumping, Canyoning, White Water Rafting, Kayaking). The town exploded with hotel construction between the 1970’s and 1990’s, now many of these hotels sit abandoned and dilapidated, while the few that survive are only recognisable by the lights on inside.

I arrived in Minakami on 25th February, and it was freeeeezing cold! Most days were between -7 and 3 degrees celsius for the first couple of weeks. I arrived with only the clothing I brought for backpacking, so was wearing every layer I owned on most days whether at work or on my day off.

It snowed often, and the cold was inescapable due to typical Japanese houses having zero insulation, so I was heavily reliant on my provided Kerosene heater. I was also provided with a typical Japanese car, a yellow plated Subaru Sambar, which was essential for work and getting around town, which is quite spread out.

The town has one supermarket, a 7/11, a Family Mart, further north a Yamazaki Daily, a few restaurants, izakayas and onsens scattered throughout and about 10,000 vending machines, just like anywhere else in Japan.

For the first three weeks in Minakami I lived in a 3 bedroom house close to Minakami Station. I’ve since moved to another larger house in Yubiso (Northern Minakami).

I’ve met a few people from the company now, and also some people from the other adventure sports companies in the town so despite it being small it’s getting more lively, particularly with the weather warming up and adventure sports companies reopening for the 2016 season.

Minakami is about 30 minutes drive from a larger supermarket/department store, Beisia, and about 1 hour from the capital of Gunma prefecture, Maebashi. Another 15 minutes south is Takasaki, the most populous city in Gunma prefecture which has some satellite cities like Ota and Isesaki (little Brazil).

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