Having only 3 days into the new year, I started my adventure for 2016 and I chose Takasaki City (高崎市) in Gunma (群馬県). I actually had no idea about what Takasaki had to offer until I decided to go the evening before. I knew it existed because when catching the train often enough, you start to notice the terminal stations on certain lines you get on in between. A quick search online and I found that Takasaki is like a gem that does not get enough attention. During my research, I came across a website, visitgunma.jp. The website had a lot to say about what Takasaki had to offer and given I wanted to short and sweet one-day trip before I started work for the new year, I thought “Why not!’.
Takasaki is a city located southwestern of Gunma Prefecture in the northern Kantō region of Japan. It is situated approximately an hour and 33 minutes away from my apartment by bus then train. I failed to begin my day early, but I still managed to arrive at Takasaki Station around 12:38pm. Reading the visitgunma.jp website, there are over a handful of places to explore. I chose to see Byakui Dai-Kannon as my one-primary stop.
Byakui Dai-Kannon (白衣観音) is a huge statue of the Goddess of Mercy. It is about 41.8 metres in height and 6 000 tons in weight. It is part of the Jigen-In (慈眼院) temple. It is one spectacular statue built in 1936.
To get to the statue from Takasaki Station, you take a local bus number 14 from bus stop 8. It costs 200 Yen for the bus ride of about 20 minutes to the 観音山頂 bus station and then getting the bus for a 10 minute foot walk to arrive at the statue. When getting off at the 観音山頂 bus station, there is an outlook view of Takasaki city and Mount Akagi in a distance.
The walk to the statue is a nice and peaceful one where you get to see some local souvenir stores. I got to see a Japanese doll, called the Daruma doll (see shot at the end). Gunma Prefecture is actually the leading producer of Daruma dolls. I didn’t purchase one myself, but I was told it is to bring good luck and fortune to the family. People typically buy a new one at the beginning of the year, to make their new wish for the year; and then return it to the shrine at the end of the year.
Once I arrived to the temple, I couldn’t not taking shots of the beautiful statue.
You can see more shots I took <here – coming soon>.
I was also lucky enough to see some beautiful flowers blossoming on the way! I was told by the lady at a local store that these were Cherry Blossoms, however, I have since been told otherwise; and that they are Plum Blossoms. This was my first time seeing such beautiful blossoms in Japan ever.
Regardless what they are, I feel lucky to have come across them. I hope it is a good sign for my new year.
There is so much more to explore in Takasaki and I will definitely be heading back for more in Year 2016. I understand there are a few great festivals during the year to check out as well. Stay tuned for more, but in the meantime, HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016! I hope this is a big and great year for everyone – family and friends especially. 明けましておめでとうございます。今年もよろしくおねがいします。