Kiryū lies about 90 km northwest of Tokyo (as the crow flies), and just across the Tochigi prefectural boundary from Ashikaga. During the Edo Era, Kiryū was known for its fine silks, an eastern match for Kyoto in western Japan. The lord of Kiryū supplied over 2,400 silk banners for the troops of Tokugawa Ieyasu in the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, and thereafter continued to pay the same tribute to the victorious Tokugawa Shogunate every year. It later became an important center for textile manufacturing during Japan's industrial revolution, and now is a manufacturing center for automotive parts and pachinko machines.
Kiryū's international sister cities are also textile and manufacturing towns: Biella, Piemonte, Italy, and Columbus, Georgia, USA. Kiryū's Columbus Street features pink and white dogwood trees and azalea bushes reminiscent of its sister city Columbus, Georgia.
The Kiryū School of Textiles, founded in 1915, has now grown into Gunma University's School of Science and Technology, one of the largest in the country. Its website contains much useful information in English about the city and its history, and its many international engineering students lend Kiryū a more cosmopolitan flavor than many cities its size.
In 2005, Kiryū doubled its size by incorporating a largely rural region across the upper Watarase River valley. But the most scenic gorges and valleys of the upper Watarase fall within the bounds of Midori, a separate jurisdiction, while the headwaters and the infamous Ashio copper mine fall within the bounds of Nikko city. Nevertheless, Kiryū remains the jumping-off point for trips to Mt. Akagi and to the Watarase River valley.
Kiryū lies about halfway between Oyama and Takasaki on the JR Ryōmō line, about 1 hour by local train from either end. About 30 trains per day pass through in each direction, and the fare runs about ¥1000 each way. The Tōbu Isesaki line express train Ryōmō, which requires seat reservations, stops at Tōbu Shin-Kiryu station on its run between Asakusa and Akagi. It leaves Asakusa at 40 mins past the hour, costs about ¥2400, and takes about 90 mins in either direction. The short local Tōbu Kiryu line stops at Shin-Kiryū on its run between Ota City and Akagi. The Watarase Keikoku (Valley) railway starts at JR Kiryū station and intersects the Tōbu Kiryū line at Aioi before heading up through the scenic mountains and gorges to the headwaters of the Watarase River valley. There are 18 trains a day each way between Kiryū station and Ōmama in Midori City, but only 11 that cover the full distance to Ashio and Matō, which are now administered by Nikkō. The first train leaves Kiryū at 6:39 and the last train leaves Matō at 7:51 pm. The full-distance fare is about ¥1050 each way. For travelers already in Maebashi, the tiny Jōmō Dentetsu line runs between Chūō Maebashi and Nishi Kiryū station.
The Expressway Bus Salvia line runs directly between Narita airport and Kiryū 5 times each way daily for ¥4400 one way. The trip takes about 3 hours, depending on Tokyo traffic. Five buses leave JR Kiryū station South Exit between 4:20AM and 1:20PM and five buses leave Narita for Kiryū between 8:10AM and 7:25PM.
The Airport Limousine Bus also runs directly between Haneda airport and Kiryū 4 times each way daily for ¥3400 one way. The trip takes between 2 and 3 hours, depending on Tokyo traffic. Four buses leave JR Kiryū station South Exit at 3:00, 3:40, 5:30, and 7:50AM, and four buses leave Haneda airport for Kiryū at 4:20, 6:20, 8:20 and 10:35PM.
The overnight Sendai Liner leaves JR Kiryū station South Exit nightly at 11:50 pm, arriving at Sendai station at 6AM. It leaves Sendai station nightly at 11PM, arriving in Kiryū at 5:10 am. Adult fare one-way ¥5800; round-trip ¥9800.
Because Kiryū was largely unscathed by World War II bombing, it contains one of the highest concentrations of prewar urban architecture in Japan: wooden-sided warehouses, sawtooth-roofed textile mills, merchant storehouses, and Meiji-era adaptations of Western buildings. The old urban core of the city is easily walkable.
- Hikobe Manor, 6-877 Hirosawacho, Kiryu (15 minute drive from the Ota/Kiryu Exit on the Kita Kanto Highway), ☎ 0277-52-6596. weekends 10 am - 4 pm (reservations required for weekday tours). Closed on weekdays (unless you have a reservation.). A fully restored Samurai residence dating back over 400 years. Hikobe direct descendants still live on the property. Declared a National Important History Site. One of the oldest private homes in the Kanto region. adults: ¥500; elementary/jr high school students: ¥300.
- Kiryu Meijikan, 2-414-6 Aioicho, Kiryu, ☎ 0277-52-3445. 9 am - 5 pm Closed Mondays. Built as the Gunma Prefecture Public Health Centre in 1878, it is a classic example of pseudo-Western architecture. Inside there are exhibition rooms and a coffee/tea shop featuring a nostalgic gramophone and music of the era. Adults: ¥150; elementary / jr high school students: ¥50.
- Kiryugaoka Zoo, 3-8-13 Miyamotocho, Kiryu (15 minute walk from Kiryu Station), ☎ 0277-22-4442. Open daily from 9 am to 4:30 pm. Over one hundred exotic animals can be seen at the zoo, including lions, giraffes, zebras, flamingoes, penguins, etc. free of charge.
- Kiryu Club, 2-9-36 Nakamachi, Kiryu (10 minutes walking from Kiryu Station), ☎ 0277-45-2755. Please inquire. A notable social gathering place built in 1919. Interior decor is reminiscent of early 20th century furnishings. Architecture is outstanding.
- Yūrinkan, ☎ 0277-46-4144. Honcho 2-6-32. Open daily except Mondays and the day after a holiday, 9 am to 7 pm. Former warehouses converted to art galleries. Free admission. Also includes the Kiryu Karakuri Ningyo (Mechanical Doll) Theatre. From the Meiji to the Showa Era, the Tenmangu Shrine Festival featured various theatre performances of elaborately made mechanical dolls. These masterfully made dolls are a treasure of Japanese Performing Arts history
- Textile Museum ‘Yukari’, 4-2-24 Higashi, Kiryu, ☎ 0277-45-3111. 10 am - 4 pm. A former sawtooth-roofed textile mill converted into a comprehensive museum of textile production over the centuries, with demonstrations ranging from silkworm cocoons to looms to dyes. ¥700.
- Okawa Museum of Art, 3-69 Kosonecho, Kiryu (15 minute was from Kiryu Station), ☎ 0277-46-3300. 10 am - 5 pm closed on Mondays and during the New Year holiday. Largest collection of works of art by Shunsuke Matsumoto and Hideo Noda in Japan. Other works of art by prominent artists from around the world. ¥1,000.
- Kennen Kinenkan, 2-1832-13 Tomoecho (5 minute walk from Kiryu Station south exit), ☎ 0277-44-2399. 9 am - 5 pm; closed on Mondays. The building itself is one of the oldest Western architecture buildings in the prefecture. Inside, local antiquities are displayed. Free of charge.
- Kiryu Orimono Kinenkan (Kiryu Textile Memorial Hall), 6-6 Eirakucho, Kiryu (5 minute walk from the North Exit of Kiryu Station), ☎ 0277-43-7272. 10 am - 5 pm. Built for the Kiryu Textile Workers Union in the heyday of the textile industry in Kiryu, the building now serves as a place to exhibit Kiryu textiles and has a shop selling locally made textiles.
- Aizawa Tadahiro Kinenkan, 537 Okuzawa Niisatocho, Kiryu (20 minute drive from the Isesaki Exit on the Kita Kanto Highway), ☎ 0277-74-3342. 10 am - 5 pm; closed on Mondays. Aizawa Tadahiro was the first to discover artefacts demonstrating the presence of human settlements in Japan during the paleolithic era. Many artefacts from the Iwajuku Site are on exhibit.
- Gunma Insect World, 460-1 Tsurugaya Niisatocho, Kiryu (20 minute drive from the Isesaki Exit on the Kita Kanto Highway), ☎ 0277-74-6441. April - October: 9:30 am - 5 pm; November - March: 9:30 am - 4:30 pm. Built on a traditional Japanese landscape, the museum contains a large collection of living insects, along with an array of butterflies among whom visitors can walk all year round in the heated observatory. Other buildings on the grounds offer opportunities to experience various aspects of traditional Japanese culture.
- Kurohone History & Folkculture Museum, 175 Mizunuma Otsu Kurohone, Kiryu (10 minute walk from Mizunuma Station on the Watarase Keikoku Line), ☎ 0277-96-3125. 10 am - 4 pm; closed Mondays. Museum houses exhibits and materials related to the history of Kurohone, local lifestyle & customs. Also, visitors can also learn about the first Japanese exporters of silk yarn, Hoshino Chotaro & Arai Ryoichiro whose factories were located in Kurohone.
- Kiryu Yagibushi Festival, streets in downtown Kiryu. first Friday, Saturday and Sunday in August. The festival is the largest event of the year in Kiryu. During the 3 day long event, more than 450,000 people from Gunma Prefecture and other parts of Japan visit the city. The major focus is Yagibushi folk dancing which takes place at various locations on the streets of downtown Kiryu. Traditional musicians sit on bandstands, around which festival-goers dance through the evening. The traditionally decorated streets are lined with stalls featuring various tradition festival foods and games, souvenirs, etc.
- Ebisuko (festival), downtown Kiryu and Nishinomiya Shrine (10 minute walk from Kiryu Station). annually, November 19th and 20th. An autumn festival focusing on the sale of "kumada" and "otakara" or good luck charms for merchants. Streets and the area around the shrine are lined with stalls selling these talismans along with festival food and souvenirs. It bustles with people and the sound of shopkeepers hawking their wares.
- Kiryu Fashion Week, downtown Kiryu (A short walk from Kiryu Station / Nishi Kiryu Station to various sites). beginning of November. Various events are held at locations throughout the city during a one-week period. Events include fashion shows, textiles, art, & local history and culture. The Classic Car Festival, held since 2006, brings together distinctive automobiles from Japan and overseas. Held on the campus of Gunma University School of Science & Technology.
- Kiryugaoka Amusement Park, 4-1-1 Miyamotocho, Kiryu (15 minutes walking from Kiryu Station), ☎ 0277-22-7580. March to October: 9:30 am to 5 pm; November to February: 9 am to 4 pm. Located next to Kiryugaoka Zoo. Attractions in the amusement park are geared toward younger children. Famous site for viewing cherry blossoms in spring. Free admission; separates fees for rides.
- Tenmangu Antiques Flea Market, Tenjincho, Kiryu (located on the grounds of Tenmangu Shrine. A 20 minute walk from Kiryu Station). 1st Saturday of the month (special dates set for January, August & November). Antique dealers from all over the Kanto area converge on this site. Everything from kimonos to antique ceramics and furniture is on sale.
- Kaiba Saya Market, Honcho 1 chome, Kiryu (15 minute walk from Kiryu Station). 1st Saturday of the month. Open air market selling textiles and miscellaneous goods & handicrafts
- Kiryu Rakuichi Market, Honcho 3 chome (10 minute walk from Kiryu Station). Open air market for discounted goods and handicrafts
- Niisato Festival (Held in sites around the Niisato area). Annually, August 15. Yagibushi dancing and a firework display are the main attractions of this summer festival.
- Kurohone Summer Festival, Kurohone Sports Park (A short walk from Mizunuma Station on the Watarase Keikoku Line). Annually, August 15 & 16. Catching trout by hand, Yagibushi dancing, & fireworks are the main attractions.
- Kiryu Nature Sanctuary, 2-902-1 Kawauchicho, Kiryu (10 minutes by car from Kiryu Station), ☎ 0277-65-6901. March to October: 9 am - 4:30 pm; November to December: 9:30 am - 4 pm. Situated in a woodland area at the foot of the mountains on the west side of Kiryu, the Nature Centre has exhibits and a lecture room. The park features many nature trails, an observation building for bird-watching. A large variety of plants and animals can be viewed throughout the seasons. free of charge.
- Caribbean Beach, 461 No Niisato, Kiryu (15 minutes driving from the Isesaski Exit on the Kita Kanto Highway), ☎ 0277-70-2121. 10 am - 9 pm (last entry at 8 pm). Closed on Thursdays.. One of the largest all-season indoor water parks in the Kanto region. Facilities include a wave pool, a current pool, water slides, jacuzzi and an olympic size swimming pool. Varies by season.
- Watarase Keikoku Railway Line. Buy a one-day pass on the Keikoku Railway that runs up the Watarase River valley, get off at one of the larger stops, hike around a bit, and hop back on the next train. Trains run at less than hourly intervals, so check the schedule at each station before setting out. Stop off at Mizunuma Station to enjoy the refreshing public baths at the only "in-Station" spa in all of Japan!
- Hiking. Kiryu is an outstanding place for hiking and trekking. The city is surrounded by mountains, all of which feature well-marked trails, many of which interconnect or lead to other mountains farther north or west of the city. Some have used Kiryu as a starting point for trekking all the way to Nikko and back. The trails range from beginner level to advanced both in terms of level of difficulty as well as in terms of trail length. Hikers will find a large variety plantlife and wildlife along the way. Some species are unique to the area and offer special observation opportunities. The Kiryu River, whose headwaters are high in the mountains over the Umeda district of the city, is crystal clear, full of many species of fish, and features waterfalls and interesting natural rock formations along its course.
- Watarase, 11-1 Suehirocho, Kiryu (Located inside Kiryu Station at the South Entrance), ☎ 0277-40-1888. 9 am - 6 pm. Open year round
- Kiryu Orimono Kinenkan, 6-6 Eirakucho, Kiryu, ☎ 0277-43-7272. 10 am - 5 pm. Closed on Mondays and the last Saturday and Sunday of the month
- Kiryu Local Industries Promotion Centre, 2-5 Orihimecho, Kiryu, ☎ 0277-46-1011. 9 am - 6 pm. Closed on Mondays and during the New Year holiday
- Umeda Furusato Centre, 5-7568-1 Umedacho, ☎ 0277-322-1100. 9 am - 5 pm. Closed on Mondays and during the New Year holiday
- Michi no Eki Kurohone Yamabiko, 91-4 Shimotazawa Kurohone, Kiryu, ☎ 0277-96-2575. 9 am - 5 pm. Closed during the New Year holiday
- Niisato Farmers Market, 553-1 Akagiyama Niisatocho, Kiryu, ☎ 0277-74-4100. March - October: 9 am - 5 pm; November - February: 9 am - 4 pm.
- Textile Museum Yukari, 4-2-24 Higashi, Kiryu (15 minute walk from Kiryu Station), ☎ 0277-45-3111. 10 am - 4 pm. closed on Mondays (except for when Monday is a national holiday)
Kiryu is famous for its udon (thick noodles made with wheat flour). There are many forms of udon from extremely wide, flat noodles known as "himokawa noodles" to rather thin flat noodles vaguely reminiscent of fettuccine in shape. Udon is eaten both hot and cold. There are numerous udon shops around the city of Kiryu, ranging in price from very cheap to gourmet-range. In addition to udon noodles, Kiryu is also the home of "sauce katsudon" - a fried pork cutlet seasoned with a secret sauce and served on a bed of hot rice. There are several restaurants serving this tasty dish, while Shitamiya is generally recognised as the originator. No trip to Kiryu would be complete without sampling both udon and sauce katsudon.
- Furukawa Udon Shop -Park Inn Kiryu, 2-2-3 Tomoecho, Kiryu (1st floor of Park Inn Kiryu, 1 minute from Kiryu Station South Exit), ☎ 0277-46-4146. Furukawa is considered the home of the extremely wide (over 15 cm) himokawa udon noodles. Gunma Prefecture is a producer of wheat, and there is a long tradition of eating wheat noodles. Some say the extra-wide noodles are reminiscent of the kimono obi produced in Kiryu over the years.
- Shitamiya Honten, 1-1-1 Hamamatsucho, Kiryu (a 10 minute walk from Kiryu Station south exit.), ☎ 0277-44-4693. 11 am - 2 pm; 5 pm - 8 pm. Closed on Thursdays & 3rd Friday of each month.
- Uotami ('fish nation'), Hon-cho 5-52, Takeuchi Bldg 1-2F (on the east side of Hon-cho-dori, half a block from Suehiro-dori, which runs past the north exit of JR Kiryu station), ☎ 0277-47-0388. Open daily 5:00 to 10PM. A large Japanese-style izakaya with a wide range of seafood and other snacks to go with an equally wide range of drinks, including regional sakes. Extensive picture menus for both food and drink, but not much English. Small bottles of sake run about ¥500 to ¥800, snacks start from about ¥250, with many choices in the range of ¥350–650.
- Toyoko Inn Kiryu Station, 2-1810-18 Tomoecho, Kiryu (1 minute walk from the South Entrance of Kiryu Station), ☎ 0277-44-1045.
- Park Inn Kiryu, 2-2-3 Tomoecho, Kiryu (1 minute walk from the South Entrance of Kiryu Station), ☎ 0277-22-8910.
- Toseikan, 7-17 Suehirocho, Kiryu (2 minute walk from the South Entrance of Kiryu Station), ☎ 0277-22-5421.
- Silver Hotel, 4-13 Suehirocho, Kiryu, ☎ 0277-22-7717.
- Kiryu Grand Hotel, 5-111-3 Aioicho, Kiryu (20 minute drive from the Ota-Yabutsuka Exit on the Kita Kanto Highway), ☎ 0277-53-6211.
- Pearl Hotel, 2-9 Suehirocho (5 minute walk from the North Entrance of Kiryu Station).
- Business Hotel Nishi Kiryu, 4-14 Eirakucho, Kiryu (8 minute walk from the North Entrance of Kiryu Station), ☎ 0277-22-2985.
- Ace Hotel, 2-1893-9 Tomoecho, ☎ 0277-47-4910.
- Seifuen, 5-7652 Umedacho (25 minute drive from Kiryu Station. 1 hour drive from the Ota-Yabutsuka Exit on the Kita Kanto Highway), ☎ 0277-32-1181.
- Hotel City, 2-2955-2 Hirosawacho, ☎ 0277-54-1927.
- Nashigi Hot Springs Nashigikan, 285 Shukumeguri Kurohonecho, Kiryu, ☎ 0277-96-2521.
|Routes through Kiryu|
|Akagi ←||N S||→ Ota → into → Asakusa|
|Maebashi ← Isesaki ←||W E||→ Ota → Ashikaga → Sano|
|Nikko ← Midori ←||N S||→ Ota → Tatebayashi → Iwatsuki|
|Nakanojo ← Shibukawa ← Maebashi ←||N S||→ END|