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Japan Hour

Local Bus Trip To Gunma Prefecture - Part 2

The "tag" game between the "fugitives" and "demons" continues, as both teams race in Gunma Prefecture and complete missions at a bakery, a hot spring bath and a store with a retro Showa-era vibe.

The “tag” game between the “fugitives” and “demons” on a bus transfer race in Gunma Prefecture continues. The role of the fugitives is to run away from the demons, who can “tag” the team by taking a photo of them and switching roles. The race starts from the Gunma Bus Murota branch office in Takasaki City and ends at Takasaki City Hall. The fugitives must complete 10 missions at 10 different checkpoints along the way and will win 500 yen for every mission completed. The money can only be used by the demon team to take a taxi once every two days. The team which reaches the goal as fugitives wins the race. 

Both teams now have to head to the fourth checkpoint, La SCENE du REVE, and the nearest bus stop is Jido Bunka Centre. Team Tagawa is currently the fugitive team. Team Matsumoto, now the demon team, must wait an hour until 5pm to be “freed” before they can continue the race. It is now 4.10pm and Team Tagawa takes a 10-minute bus ride from Hachimanmae to Shibukawa Station. They then hop on a Maebashi-bound bus at 4.25pm. They arrive at Maebashi Station at 5.15pm and then take the 5.30pm bus to Jido Bunka Centre.

The demon team, Team Matsumoto, is “freed” at 5pm and they catch the 5.10pm bus to Shibukawa Station. They then travel on the 5.25pm bus to Maebashi Station.

The fugitive team, Team Tagawa, reaches Jido Bunka Centre, the nearest bus stop to La SCENE du REVE. They then walk to the checkpoint, after asking drivers at Shimizu Taxi for directions. They arrive at La SCENE du REVE, a popular bakery and cafe in Maebashi. It uses high-quality flour produced in Gunma Prefecture and has a wide range of speciality handmade bread. The team’s mission is to eat the bakery’s most popular product, the Mugibuta curry bun. It has won the top prize at a bread festival in Gunma. Instead of breadcrumbs, crispy corn flakes are used. The homemade curry stuffed inside the bun is made with ground Mugibuta meat, onions and carrots. Team Tagawa completes the mission and gets 500 yen. They now have a total of 1,500 yen to spend on a taxi, but only when they are the demon team.

The next checkpoint is announced to both teams at the same time. It is Yu no Michi Rikyu. It is located in the town of Yoshioka, just before Shibukawa. The nearest bus stop is Takai.

Team Matsumoto, which was heading to Maebashi Station, alights from the bus. They realise that the fugitive team is just 1km away so they decide to run and ambush them, so that they can tag them and switch places. Team Tagawa members are walking back to Maebashi Station from the bakery and are taken by surprise when they see the opponent team and get tagged by them. The teams now switch roles, with Team Matsumoto becoming the fugitives. 

It is currently 6.30pm and the demon team, Team Tagawa, must wait for an hour to be “freed”. They decide to make use of the time to have an early dinner.

Team Matsumoto, the fugitive team, is on their way to Yu no Michi Rikyu, the fifth checkpoint. They plan to go to the Takai bus stop via Maebashi Station. They board a bus at Jido Bunka Centre at 6.40pm and later decide to alight at Honmachi, three stops before Maebashi Station.

After they are “freed” at 7.30pm, Team Tagawa members, the demons, are “freed” and take the bus to the Takai bus stop. It is about 15 to 20 minutes away on foot from Yu no Michi Rikyu.

Team Matsumoto reaches Takai at 7.50pm and decides to run to the checkpoint so that they can take on the mission by 8pm. 

It is now 7.55pm and Team Tagawa is near Maebashi Station. They run to the Omotemachi bus stop and reach by 8pm. They will start from this bus stop the following morning. 

Team Matsumoto reaches Yu no Michi Rikyu before 8pm and manages to do their mission, which is to enjoy the outdoor hot spring bath for more than 10 minutes. Gunma Prefecture is known for its hot springs and Yu no Michi Rikyu is a popular local hot spring spot. The rare yellow-green hot spring water is said to be good for one's skin and is also believed to be effective for nerve pain, bruising and fatigue. Team Matsumoto completes the mission and wins 500 yen. They now have a total of 1,000 yen, which they can use for a taxi ride. 

At the end of the first day, Team Tagawa has completed three missions, while Team Matsumoto has successfully done two missions.

On the second day, Team Matsumoto, the fugitive team, starts from Yu no Michi Rikyu. The demon team, Team Tagawa, begins the day at the Omotemachi bus stop near Maebashi Station. Both teams are told that the sixth checkpoint is Game Koruso in Takasaki and the nearest bus stop is Munadaka Higashi.

Team Tagawa takes the 8.20am bus from Maebashi Station to Munadaka Higashi. They reach the sixth checkpoint - Game Koruso - first at 9.05am. However, only fugitives can do missions. So while waiting for the other team to arrive so that they can tag them, Team Tagawa has breakfast at an obento store.

Team Matsumoto heads to the Takai bus stop near the Yu no Michi Rikyu checkpoint. They take a bus to Kiyono, from where they ride on the 9.15am bus bound for Takasaki Station via Aeon Mall Takasaki. At 9.40am, they alight at a bus stop called Mitsudera, which is near the checkpoint, Game Koruso. They then walk to the checkpoint but get tagged by Team Tagawa, the demons, along the way at around 9.55am. Team Matsumoto is now the demon team and must wait for half an hour before being “freed”.

Now that Team Tagawa is the fugitive team, they can take on the mission at the sixth checkpoint. Game Koruso has a retro Showa-period vibe and the team’s mission is to eat every type of food sold in the retro vending machines here. They need to eat four types of foods, including ramen, udon and toasted sandwiches. Despite having breakfast earlier, they manage to eat everything and win 500 yen for completing the mission. Now they have a total of 2,000 yen which can only be used for taking a taxi when they are the demon team. 

Both teams are informed of the seventh checkpoint, Luna Park, an amusement park. The nearest bus stop is Maebashi Koenmae near Maebashi Station. It is now 10.05am and Team Tagawa can start making their way there after completing their mission at Game Koruso. However, Team Matsumoto, the demon team, will be only “freed” at 10.25am.

Team Tagawa finds out there is no bus until nearly two hours later. So they decide to walk towards Maebashi Koenmae instead. However, upon checking the map, they realise that if they walk for 2km and reach Motosoja Kosaten, they will be able to take a bus from there to Maebashi Station.

Team Matsumoto is “freed” at 10.25am and starts running. They manage to catch up to Team Tagawa, who are 1km ahead, and tag them at 10.35am. The roles are switched again, with Team Tagawa now being the demons, who must wait for half an hour. 

Team Matsumoto, now the fugitive team, walks back towards Aeon Mall Takasaki and later takes a direct Maebashi-bound bus to Maebashi Koenmae at 11.35am. After Team Tagawa is “freed”, they walk to Motosoja and then take a bus to Maebashi Station, after which they walk to the checkpoint, Luna Park. 


Tips:

1)    A must-try item at the La SCENE du REVE bakery is its award-winning Mugibuta curry bun
2)    Gunma Prefecture is known for its hot springs

Source: CNA
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