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Climate

Gunma's weather, water and soil

Weather

Gunma has various types of weather because the plain land stretches out to the south and many mountains are situated in the north and west.
The southern part of Gunma has a Pacific climatic that is a humid temperate climate and sees high temperature and much rain in summer. Tatebayashi and Isesaki often receive a high degree of media coverage as a region with the highest temperature.

Also in winter, Gunma has strong winds known as the "Karakkaze Dry Winds" which blows down from Niigata and mountains in the north, causing cold temperature. "Karakkaze Dry Winds" is the cold and dry seasonal wind that blows through the area from the late fall in November to April the following year. Depending on the area, it is also called "Akagi Oroshi", "Haruna Oroshi" and "Asama Oroshi".

On the other hand, the weather in northern and southern parts of Gunma is characterized by that of similar to the Japan Sea side. In winter, it gets a lot of snow and rain due to the seasonal winds. For that reason, many ski resorts are located in Minakami, Agatsuma, Katashina, Tambara and Kawaba.

In addition, Gunma is also famous for thunders. While the observatory locations in Kanazawa, Sakata and Takada on the Japan Sea side record a number of thunders throughout the year, those in Utsunomiya, Takayama, Kumagaya and Maebashi , where the percentage of warm season from April to September is more than 90 percent, records thunders more than 18 days a year. Among them, Maebashi has nearly 98% of thunder days in the warm season, meaning that the most number of thunders concentrate in this area. Thunders occurred in the northern Kanto region during summer cause severe localized damages by lightning strike, flood, gusty wind and hail fall.

The climate of Gunma can be characterized as hot in summer and cold in winter, as well as thunder storms in summer and the Karakkaze dry winds in winter. Here are some ingenious attempts to coexist with these weather conditions and to obtain benefits from dry winter.

▼"Kashigune" to beat the Karakkaze dry winds▼

To protect against the cold and dry winds, people in Gunma used a special device called shino and built straw fences around the fields and homestead woodland around the house, or performed an incantation to prevent winds. The windbreak hedge called Kashigune made with oak became a staple of windbreak hedge in Gunma for the greatest number, beauty after being trimmed and its effectiveness of preventing winds in a small space. However, in recent years, as the urbanization progresses, not much area is exposed to wind, its difficulty of maintenance and damages made to roof caused by falling leaves and the number of Kashigune is decreasing.

▼Benefits brought in by dryness▼

A fewer rain and dry winds in the southern part of Gunma creates dry whether enough to issue dry air advisory on consecutive days. For that reason, this area has cultivated many cultures of drying things for utilization through the ages. Such as Daruma dolls making and wood drying for furniture making, dried konjac, dried stems of satoimo potatoes, dried persimmons, dried strips of sweet potatoes, dried daikon radish and dried strips of daikon radish, just to name a few. These cultures are the benefits brought in by dry winter.

▼Lightning arrester▼

To prevent the damages to humans and crops caused by hail falls associated with thunders, thunder strikes, people have worshipped thunders as their Shinto god since ancient times. Gunma in particular actively worshipped thunder-beings and there were 354 shrines that enshrined a god of lightning (god of water) before the integration of shrines during the Meiji Period. In addition, people in Gunma gave thunders "Rai sama (Mr. Thunder)" and "Okandachi" and called thunders with respect and considered lightings as a path when their god descended to the earth. Even now, many shrines enshrining thunder-beings can be found across the prefecture including Itakura and Iyoku.


Water

In Gunma, many rivers, lakes and marshes are scattered around the prefecture within a varied topography and geological condition of 13 meters to 2,500 meters above sea level. Also, various types of water environment have been formed from mountain streams in the mountainous region to streams in flat plains centering on the Tone River. Gunma boasts its abundant water environment and in 1985, the Hakoshima Yusui in Higashi-agatsuma and Ogawazeki in Kanra were listed in Japan's Selected 100 Exquisite and Well-Conserved Waters of the Environment Agency (current Ministry of the Environment). Also in 2008, the "Oze no Sato Katashina spring group" in Katashina was selected as one of the 100 Exquisite and Well-Conserved Waters of the Heisei Period by the Ministry of the Environment. Gunma is also known for regional sake and local craft beer made with Gunma's delicious water as well as the cultivation of freshwater fish such as Iwana mountain trout, landlocked masu salmon and rainbow trout.

Soil

Most of Gunma's soil is consist of volcanic products such as volcanic ashes, weathered pumice stones, weathered volcanic rocks. The geological strata found across the prefecture are those derived from volcanic activities besides the layers created from the accumulation of earth and sand carried from mountains to the bed of the sea and lakes through rivers. Other than these soils formed from the volcano eruptions, there are volcanic ashes blown all the way to Gunma when there were eruptions outside the prefecture. One of the famous geological strata derived from volcanic products discovered in Gunma is the Asama A pumice stones (1783), Haruna Ikaho tephra (around the middle of 6th century), Maebashi Dakuryu or mud flow (22,000 to 24,000 years ago) and Akagi Kanuma pumice stones (31,000 to 32,000 years ago).