History and Location

History of Gunma University
Memorial Hall

Although Gunma University was only established in 1949, the engineering, education and medical faculties which amalgamated to form the university date back to the beginning of this century.

The Faculty of Engineering's Kiryu location is a reflection of its roots as a school to educate the craftsmen necessary for the textile industry which flourished in Kiryu at the time. The Kiryu School of Textiles was established in 1915, this later expanded and the name was changed in 1920 to the Kiryu School of Technology. In 1944, the School became the Kiryu College of Technology on its promotion to college status. Finally, it joined with the medical and education colleges located in Maebashi to form Gunma University in 1949.

The Faculty of Engineering has expanded greatly over the years to include new engineering technologies in its research and education programs. The Faculty now has seven departments, making it one of the largest engineering facilities in Japan.


Kiryu, Tenjin-cho 1-5-1, 376-8515, Japan

Kiryu City
Map of Kiryu City
View to the north of the university

Kiryu city is located in Gunma prefecture, which forms the northern part of the Kanto Plain on the main island of Honshu. Kiryu is approximately 100 km from Tokyo, the capital of Japan. The mountains that can be seen to the North of Kiryu include the distinctive shape of Mount Akagi.

Japan has four seasons, Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, and the temperature varies depending on the season. Kiryu summers are hot and humid with temperatures often exceeding 30degrees celcius. Winter is cold with temperatures falling to around 5 degrees and occasional snow. Spring and Autumn are generally regarded as the most pleasant seasons, with temperatures in the mid 20 degrees and low humidity. From mid-June to late July the Kanto region suffers the heavy rains that come with the monsoon season. Although the amount and frequency of rain varies from year to year, it usually rains on most days and the monsoon showers tend to make umbrellas an ineffective form of protection. It is wise to take shelter until the worst of the shower has passed.

Kiryu is often referred to as "the Eastern Kyoto". Like Kyoto, Kiryu has over 1,000 years of history behind it and owes its wealth and tradition to the silk textile industry. Even now, Kiryu is a major centre for the manufacture of kimonos (traditional Japanese wear). The precise origins of the silk industry in Kiryu have been lost in the mists of time, but according to local legend a young man from Kiryu won the heart of a princess at the Imperial Court in Kyoto with his exquisite poetry. They eventually married and returned to Kiryu, where she taught the local inhabitants the art of weaving. There are records of silk production in Kiryu dating from the 10th century. Over the years, the silk industry grew and flourished in Kiryu. Kiryu silk was sent to the Imperial Court and was used by the Tokugawa Shogun for his army's battle banners in 1600. Kiryu became the site for a major silk market which drew merchants from all over Japan.

However, in recent years the kimono was been largely replaced by Western-style suits and dresses. The golden age of the silk industry has now passed.

With the decline of the silk industry the people of Kiryu adapted themselves to new industries, mainly the production of automotive parts, electronics and related industries. However, Kiryu has become a major producer of another typically Japanese product-pachinko machines! (Pachinko is a type of pinball which is extremely popular in Japan.)

A walk through Kiryu brings one into contact with history and tradition at every turn. Tenmangu shrine is right in front of the Faculty of Engineering, and nearby Honcho Street is a reminder of Kiryu's past as a commercial centre. Go a little further and one will find the Hikobe family mansion, a reminder of how the aristocracy lived at the end of the 17th century, and the Meiji Kan, one of the oldest wooden Western-style buildings in Gunma. Kiryu is also blessed with abundant greenery. Each season is celebrated with a display of colour in Suidoyama Park and a hike up Raiden mountain will be rewarded with a spectacular view of Kiryu city. Those who are energetic may wish to explore the many hiking trails that surround Kiryu.

Gunma prefecture is famous for its mountains and hot-springs. Whilst hiking and climbing are popular sports in the warmer seasons, winter is the "ski-ing season". There are a number of ski resorts in the North of the prefecture, many close enough so that a "ski-ing day trip" is possible. A popular means of relaxation is to soak in one of the many hot-springs or "onsen" that can be found throughout Gunma. The onsen waters vary depending on the spring, some are renowned for their health-giving properties, whilst others are famous for their "beautifying" properties! Most Japanese find hot-springs a good way to relax and unwind from the pressures of everyday life.

Those who prefer the excitement of a big city can easily travel to Tokyo from Kiryu. The most direct means of travel is the Tobu Railway Line which runs between Kiryu and Asakusa in Tokyo. A more indirect way to get to Tokyo is to travel on the Ryomo Line to Takasaki and change onto a local, semi-express or bullet train. Either way takes approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Kiryu, Tenjin-cho 1-5-1, 376-8515, Japan
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