Right now through the end of September, our prefecture, Gunma, is having a campaign to try and get more tourists, called the Gunma Destination Campaign. Gunma is kinda… low on the list of great sightseeing prefectures. I mean, we have a lot of famous spots, and are close to Tokyo, but I remember watching a program where Tokyoites had to name all the prefectures in the region, and maybe two people got Gunma right out of a good 20. It just isn’t very well known. So Gunma is trying to change that, and is doing a lot of activities and advertising to get people into the prefecture.
One of the current things they have going on is that they are running two old fashioned steam trains and one other older train. The tickets for these trains are impossible to get. We tried. But if you walk around Takasaki City and buy things at a few select places, you can get these special edition Daruma painted black for the three trains they have going right now.
You know what Daruma are, right? They are painted statues that can’t be knocked over because of the way they are shaped. I really like them, and Takasaki is famous for them, so when we heard about the stamp rally we really wanted to participate. Last week was summer vacation and we didn’t have school, so we went to Takasaki Thursday to do the stamp rally and get the daruma!
That top picture is a look at the program, with two stamps already. There are three daruma, and that day we decided to get two of them. At the bottom and the page you can’t see is the list of shops you can buy train-themed things at.
We started off in the station, where Gunma-chan (the prefecture mascot) was there to meet us! We got the maps and the route and headed off.
So we told Brandt and Mizuki about it, and they wanted to get a daruma too! And with two Kenji and I figured we might as well complete the collection and get a few as gifts.
So we went back to Takasaki the following (last) Sunday for another round of walking and shopping! We went to some of the same places, but some were closed, so we also went to several new ones as well. Both the tenugui and sembei places were closed, but the shaved ice place and manju place were open, so we went there.
We also went to a few others as well for the full set of three stamps each.
Takasaki Station’s Daruma exhibit, with giant versions of the three black ones in the middle!
So we were all happy with our Daruma. I also told Allen and Briana about it, and they want to go too, so I might make a third trip to go with them. Walking around Takasaki is so much fun!
After the stamp rally, we came home quickly to change and meet people, then went back to Takasaki by train for the fireworks. We grabbed kebabs to eat, and then ended up just stopping to watch on the bridge across the river. They were really spectacular this year, if a bit short! I didn’t even bother to take many pictures, but I have two plus two videos.
We met Amy for the first time, who is the new Fujioka ALT who just came in a few days ago, and also the other new ALT, Briana, who has been here for a few weeks. Ken came, and it was nice to see him, and so did Katsu, so it was a nice big group!