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Japan Hour

Local Bus Trip To Gunma Prefecture - Part 3

The game of "tag" between the "fugitives" and "demons" during a bus transfer race enters its last stretch, with both teams using unique strategies to outwit each other on the way to the final stop.

The game of “tag” between the “fugitives” and “demons” on a bus transfer race in Gunma Prefecture continues. The fugitives must complete missions at various checkpoints, while trying not to get tagged by the demons. The team that reaches the finishing point, Takasaki City Hall, as fugitives wins the race.

Both teams are now heading to Maebashi Koenmae, the nearest bus stop to the seventh checkpoint, Luna Park. Team Tagawa, the demon team, is walking there. Team Matsumoto, the fugitive team, is taking a bus from Aeon Mall Takasaki. Team Tagawa decides that they will later lie to the opponent team that they took a taxi, something which the demon team can only do once during the race. 

Both teams arrive at Maebashi Koenmae around the same time. The demons tag the fugitives by taking their photo and they switch roles, with Team Tagawa now being the fugitives. Team Matsumoto, the demon team, must wait for 30 minutes and will only be “freed” just before 12.25pm.

The fugitives head to the checkpoint, which is an amusement park. Luna Park has been a popular spot among Gunma residents for about 70 years. Each ride costs only 50 yen. The team’s mission is to get on 500 yen worth of rides at the park. The fugitives complete the mission and win another 500 yen to take a taxi, but only when they are demons. Team Tagawa now has a total of 2,500 yen, having completed five missions so far.

Both teams are told that the next checkpoint is Shango Tonyamachi Main Branch, near Tonyamachi Chuo Park. The nearest bus stop is Tonyamachi Chuo. 

Team Tagawa goes to Maebashi Station and then takes the 12.50pm bus from the Omotecho bus stop to Takasaki Station, from where they plan to transfer buses to get to Tonyamachi Chuo. 

After being freed, Team Matsumoto decides to go to the Kenchomae bus stop, about 500m away, and then take the 12.55pm bus to Takasaki Station. Coincidentally, Team Tagawa’s bus passes Kenchomae, where Team Matsumoto is. So the demons quickly take a photo of the fugitives and tag them. Team Tagawa is now the demon team and must alight at the next bus stop, Chuo Byoin Iriguchi, and wait for 10 minutes. It is 1pm by now and as luck would have it, Team Tagawa manages to catch the next bus at 1.15pm. They make enquiries and are told to alight at the Oyagi Danchi Iriguchi bus stop and then walk 1km towards the checkpoint. 

Team Matsumoto also gathers information onboard their bus. They find out that the bus makes a major detour before going to Takasaki Station. They decide to alight at Sogo Bunka Centre-mae instead and then transfer to a bus that passes Tonyamachi Chuo.

Meanwhile, Team Tagawa gets off Oyagi Danchi Iriguchi and then starts walking to the checkpoint. They arrive first at around 2.10pm and wait for Team Matsumoto, the fugitives, to arrive.

Team Matsumoto takes the 1.50pm bus from Sogo Bunka Centre-mae to Tonyamachi Chuo, near the checkpoint. When they reach, they are tagged by the demons, Team Tagawa. The teams switch and Team Matsumoto is now the demon team and must wait for 10 minutes until 2.25pm.

Team Tagawa, the fugitive team, goes to the checkpoint, Shango, which is an Italian restaurant. Takasaki City is well-known for pasta and boasts more than 150 pasta restaurants. The team’s mission is to finish the restaurant’s medium-sized "Shango-style" speciality meat cutlet pasta among the three of them. The dish is topped with locally produced Joshu Mugibuta pork cutlet and Shango’s secret rich meat sauce. The team finishes the 700g of pasta and wins another 500 yen. So now they have a total of 3,000 yen to take a taxi when needed. 

Both teams are informed that the next checkpoint is Machi no Kumasan and the nearest bus stop is Minami Orui. Team Matsumoto is freed and manages to take a photo of Team Tagawa as they are exiting from Shango. Team Tagawa is back to being the demon team after being tagged and must wait for 10 minutes. 

Team Matsumoto, the fugitive team, goes to the Tonyamachi Chuo bus stop. However, the bus is only at 2.50pm and the demon team will be freed at around 2.35pm. So the fugitives have no choice but to walk away from the bus stop to avoid being tagged. The demons soon arrive at the bus stop after being freed. Team Matsumoto decides they will deliberately go to the bus stop right when the bus to Takasaki Station is arriving and let themselves get tagged by Team Tagawa. They hope that this way, the other team will miss the bus. So Team Matsumoto goes to the bus stop, gets tagged by Team Tagawa and they switch roles. But their plan fails as Team Tagawa still manages to catch the 2.50pm bus from Tonyamachi Chuo, while the demons must wait for 10 minutes to be freed. Furthermore, the next bus to Takasaki Station comes about half an hour later only. 

In the meantime, Team Tagawa reaches Machi no Kumasan, the ninth checkpoint. Their mission here is to finish a ramen cake between the three of them. They complete the challenge and win another 500 yen. Now the team has 3,500 yen saved up for the taxi.

Team Matsumoto arrives at Takasaki Station and finds out that Team Tagawa has completed the mission. Both teams must now go to the 10th checkpoint, Karaoke Parkside, a karaoke place near Shin-Maebashi Station. The nearest bus stop is Shin-Maebashi Eki Iriguchi. 

Team Tagawa takes the 4.40pm bus to Takasaki Station and then heads to Shin-Maebashi from there. Team Matsumoto takes a bus going in the direction of Shin-Maebashi Station. Team Tagawa arrives at Takasaki Station at 5.05pm and finds out there is a direct bus to Shin-Maebashi Station at 5.25pm.

Team Matsumoto, the demon team, arrives at Shin-Maebashi Eki Iriguchi first. They decide to hide, let the fugitives take on the mission once they arrive at the checkpoint and then tag them during the mission itself. This way, Team Matsumoto - who will then be the fugitives - can rush to the finishing point while the opponent team has to wait as they will now be the demon team.

Team Tagawa finally arrives at Karaoke Parkside at 6.40pm. They start on their mission at the checkpoint, but then get tagged by Team Matsumoto at nearly 6.50pm. The roles are switched and now Team Matsumoto, as the fugitives, can head to the finishing point, while Team Tagawa - the demons - must wait for 10 minutes. Both teams must make their way to the observation lobby of Takasaki City Hall, the finishing point. 

Team Matsumoto rushes to the bus stop and catches the Takasaki-bound bus at 7pm. Team Tagawa gets freed at 7pm and finally uses the 3,500 yen they have won at the checkpoints to take a taxi to Takasaki City Hall. Team Matsumoto arrives at Takasaki Station at 7.35pm, which is 1km away from Takasaki City Hall. They find out there is a bus at 7.45pm which leaves for the city hall bus stop. 

Team Matsumoto reaches the city hall and are taken aback when the other team arrives 10 seconds later and tags them by taking their photo. Team Matsumoto, now the demon team, has to wait for 10 minutes. Team Tagawa, the fugitives, must complete one final mission, which is to play a game of giant daruma otoshi at the last checkpoint. They struggle with the challenge but manage to complete it before the demon team is freed at 8.05pm. So Team Tagawa is declared the winner of the tag game journey. 


1)    Luna Park, an amusement park in Gunma, is known for its affordable rides 
2)    Takasaki is famous for its pasta, with more than 150 pasta restaurants

Source: CNA


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