Experience the Wonder of Takasaki Part 2
1. Takasaki "Pasta Town"
Gunma Prefecture produces most of Japan’s wheat, and so for a long time the lives of Takasaki’s residents have been intimately connected to pasta cuisine, since it also uses wheat as an ingredient. It is popularly said that Takasaki has the highest number of pasta restaurants in all of Japan, and in recent years it has become well-known as the “Pasta Town”. Each year, the city’s Italian restaurants compete with each other to make the tastiest and most interesting pasta in a gourmet event called “King of Pasta”. Each restaurant offers a menu comprised of dishes prepared from local ingredients, and based on the customer’s voters the Nº1 pasta dish of that year is decided. So why not take the chance to try out the most popular pasta flavors which are offered in Takasaki, “Pasta Town”?
2. From Takasaki city to Shibukawa-Ikaho hot springs
The Ikaho hot springs are 330 meters wide, and are located in the center of town atop a 365 stone step staircase, so an elegant view is assured. It truly is the representative hot spring in Gunma Prefecture. During the Sengoku period of Japan’s history, a full-scale town planning took place, which turned this into Japan’s Nº1 “Hot Spring Town”. This is also the place of origin for the now famous “Hot Spring Manjuu”, known all over Japan as being an indispensable souvenir for visitors. The skin of these confections is tea-colored and they are popularly known as “Kodakara no Yu” (“Children’s Hot Spring”), in an attempt at imitating the actual color of the Ikaho hot springs water.
3. From Takasaki station to Shibukawa Station
Get on the JR Jouetsu-Agatsuma Line from Takasaki station, and travel in the direction of “Shibukawa Station”.
4. Shibukawa Station / the bus terminal in front of the station
It takes around 25 minutes to get from Takasaki station to Shibukawa Station. In front of the station there is a bus terminal where you can take a bus which conveniently takes you to Ikaho hot springs. Get on the bus from the bus boarding area nº 3.
5. Ikaho hot springs bus terminal
It takes around 20 minutes to get to the Ikaho hot springs bus terminal from Shibukawa Station. From here it should take about 5 minutes on foot to reach the Ishidan district (where the stone steps are). There is also a cable car adjacent to the bus terminal, so you can also ride the cable car all the way up.
6. Ishidan, the stone steps
This staircase is formed by 365 stone steps, and has become a symbol of the Ikaho hot springs. At either side of the steps are souvenir shops and hot spring inns, as well as food stalls standing in a row. It acts as the main street for the hot springs neighborhood.
It is an arched bridge lacquered in a vermillion hue, located very close to the source of the stream for Ikaho hot springs. Surrounding this bridge is a luxurious fresh verdure in the Spring, and a beautifully red tone of colors in the Fall. The most visible leaves are those of Maple and Scarlet Rosemallow, so fresh and colorful.
8. Ikaho Hawaiian Festival
In the Summer, the Ikaho hot springs become the venue where famous dancers put on a show known as the “Hawaiian Festival”, a very lively event.
Ikaho hot springs are the home of a Historic landmark, the “Hawaii Kingdom envoy’s villa”. Since 1997, the city where the town of Ikaho is located, Shibukawa, became a sister city with Hawaii.