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Taken by Takasaki
LOCATED on the northern tip of the Kanto Plain, Takasaki City is one of Gunma prefecture's major cities and its largest with a population of 370,000.
Only 100km northwest of Tokyo and just under an hour away by bullet train or car, its strategic location as well as its efficient network of railway lines and expressways have benefited Takasaki massively and transformed it into one of Japan's most successful and bustling industrial towns.
But it's not all work and no play for the locals - Takasaki knows how to have fun and the city boasts plenty of leisure and cultural activities throughout the year to lure domestic and international visitors back.
It did not earn its name as the City of Movies and Music for nothing - the Gunma Symphony Orchestra, established there about 70 years ago, is the second oldest (after NHK) in Japan and recognised as one of country's best professional ensembles; while the Takasaki Film Festival, first started by local film fans, has grown into a major event over the years.
The city is also a photography buff's dream come true with Lake Haruna's scenic views giving visitors something to Instagram home about. Fans of the popular Initial D manga will also recognise the area, as it inspired one of the circuits in the classic racing anime.
Takasaki's pleasantly mild climate nurtures flowers all year round, giving the city a different look and colour every season. Spring is especially bustling as everyone comes to catch breathtaking views of the cherry blossoms and plum trees in full bloom around the Mount Haruna area.
Not far from there, the 41.8m tall Byakui Daikannon (White-Robed Goddess of Mercy) stands watch silently over Takasaki 24/7. Perhaps that is why the city is also dubbed the Lucky Town, with a 2005 study showing the probability of a major earthquake occurring in the next 30 years is a slim 0.008 per cent to zero per cent.
Those who want to feel blessed should pick up a Daruma doll from any gift shop. Originating from where else but Takasaki, the Japanese believe it brings the owner good luck.
We can't think of a more appropriate souvenir to remember this city's charm.