Ota (太田 Ōta?) is a city located on the southeastern sticky-outy bit of Gunma Prefecture with a population of about 217,038 people. It is bordered on the north by Ashikaga, in Tochigi Prefecture, and on the south by Kumagaya of Saitama Prefecture. Ota is the home of Subaru's main plant, which fills the neighborhood of Subaru-cho, and is also known somewhat dubiously for its strip of bars and hostess clubs downtown. Aside from that, it has many good restaurants, the Mt. Kaneyama historical castle ruins for hiking, Aeon Ota, which is the largest shopping center in the Kita-Kanto region, the Ota Snake Center, and its central train station is a stop on the Ryomo Express.
To/from the airportEdit
From either Narita or Haneda Airports, there are several Airport Limosine express buses available (leaving the city with outgoing passengers in the morning and returning to the city in the evening). Tickets for these are around 3,000 yen, depending on the distance involved. These buses make stops at several points along the way. In Ota, they can be boarded from either Ota Station, south exit, or from the Ota Bus Terminal.
Ota is home to several train stations, the central one being Ota Station. Since this is a larger station, trains run somewhat regularly here, but in the smaller neighborhood stations, trains may run as infrequently as every half-hour or every hour. The Ryomo Express train stops at Ota Station. Depending on train schedules, Ota can be from two to three hours from central Tokyo. Going away from Tokyo is likely to take longer.
Ota has a central bus terminal that serves both city buses and tourist and travel buses, the Ota Bus Terminal, and many buses stop at the train station as well. Furthermore, there is an Aeon Bus that services the route from Ota Station to Aeon Ota Shopping Center; however, city buses are small and run infrequently.
From Tokyo, Ota can be reached by car by taking the Kita-Kanto Expressway and exiting onto route 354 in Tatebayashi. It is accessible by routes 50 and 122, as well as several other highways, from the surrounding prefectures. The Kita-Kanto Expressway is currently being extended into the north side of Ota, intersecting Route 122, and is expected to shorten drives to Tokyo greatly.
In downtown Ota, most things are within walking distance, but outside of the central area most places are only reachable by bike or even by car. The trains to local stations are somewhat infrequent, as are the buses. Most things that are station fixtures in other cities, such as Shidax and other such party locales aside from the bars and hostess clubs, are surprisingly far from the station, so a designated driver, daikou, or taxi is recommended.
Currently, two high school ALTs work in Ota, one working at two high schools and the other at only a base school. One of the jobs requires something of a commute to the lesser-visited high school, either by train or car.
As of 2012, both the Ota JETs have renewed their contracts for the 2012/2013 school year.
Places to visitEdit
Kanayama castle ruins are on the north side of Ota city. A hike up from Daikou-in is recommended but one can also drive up.
You can find several pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/katakanadian/1744926150/
The Ota Matsuri takes place in mid-July on Honcho Dori.
- Yamaguchi (ヤマグチ), 台之郷町, on the northeast side of Ota on route 407, Run of the mill little grocery store with decent prices on fish and meat, and fresh vegetables and fruit.
- Aeon Ota Shopping Center (イオン太田ショッピングセンター), On route 122, (Can be reached by bus from Ota Station), Most shops: 10am to 9 or 10pm; Jusco open 24h. A Jusco full of food (the sale day is Tuesday), a Kaldi for imported and ethnic foods, an HMV, a bookstore, a Sekichu home center, more clothes than you can shake a stick at, and all sorts of other shops. They also have a movie theatre that isn't shy about carrying movies in their original languages with subtitles, or showing "roadshow" limited-release movies. The Aeon Cinema has a ladies' day as well as a couples' day, which only requires that you bring a friend, not that you be a romantic couple.
Home & Garden storesEdit
- Sekichu, Large home center, one of the anchor shops of Aeon.
- Bookman's Academy, Near Uniqlo. If you go down the 407 and turn right at the MAryell Ota Palace/ Gothic Cathedral you will ventually see it on your right., Daily till 9:00. Its a fairly large bookstore with some English books, but not many.
- Bookstore in Aeon, On The second floor in Aeon MAll, Daily till 10:00. A great bookstore with a large (for Japan) section of English LAnguage books.
- Nakamuraya (なかむらや), On Honcho Street Next to the Nikko Palace Hotel, Very conveniently located neighborhood bookstore. Two stories with a small english section. Lots of stationary too.
- Shop name here, Description here
- Gattenzushi (がってんずし), Kaitenzushi (conveyor-belt sushi) of decent quality.
- Yoichi Ramen (よいちラーメン), A ramen shop of considerable yumminess. While it's not the best ramen in all of Japan by any means, they put a lot of pride into their ground-in-the-bowl secret mix of spices. Their curry is made using their ramen spice mix, so it has a unique matching flavor. Their miso and shoyu broth flavors are particularly good.
- Restaurant name here, Description here
- Slow Time (Slow Time), Nearly impossible to find unless you already know where it is (now with pathetic directions!), (Drive south from Ota Station on 407. Keep going until you see a flashy pachinko parlor on the left and a huge car thing called ピット100 on the right (it has a big round tower with some rainbow lights on it). It's an intersection with a light, but it's usually busy enough that it can be hard to make a turn. There are also a bunch of girders in the road for the turn lanes, which is odd. Turn right here (it's actually 341, if that helps), and then turn right again at the first opportunity (there's a long turn lane approaching it). The road will immediately jog left, then right; don't go right, but drive into the grassy little parking lot straight ahead after the left. Slow Time is right there), A tiny little restaurant with a cafe feel during the day and a relaxed lounge atmosphere at night. It's run by a man nicknamed the Master and his wife, and they specialize in fusion-style cooking of epic proportions. In the past, the Master has even served his cooking to the emperor of Japan when the emperor was traveling around Japan (he claims this was just pure luck, but don't listen to that). Be advised that it really can take quite a bit of time to get your order, but bring some friends and relax over a glass of the great wine that Slow Time has and it's not a problem. If your Japanese is decent, you can probably chat up the Master or his wife as well. They're both terribly sweet people.
- Yurasçue (ヨラッセ), On the road intersection route 407 downtown, east (away) from the Yamada Denki, An honest-to-goodness brewhouse. The food's a bit pricey, but the ale (Donryu Dream, named after the local historical priest Donryu-sama, who is enshrined at the Daikouin Temple also in Ota) brewed in full view of the dining hall is a must-try. Their pizzas are quite good and will be readily recognizable as Real Live Pizza to anyone suffering from a case of food homesickness. On busy nights, the wait can be a little long, though.
- Gen, Typhoon Cafe etc., (On the strip south of the South Exit of Ota Station), They're your standard japanese Izakaya's nothing special about any of them. They serve the same food and their prices are pretty much the same.
- Fan Bar, (Next to the Shell station on 407 south of City Hall), 500 yen beers. Nice mix of locals and foreigners.
- Gunma Bank, Pretty normal Japanese bank. Nothing special, branches all over.
- Central Ota post office, (easily reachable by foot south from the train station), The post office has a mail window in the lobby that is open twenty four hours (if it seems closed just press the buzzer two or three people will come to answer it.) So its NEVER a problem to send mail. Their ATM takes international cards and the Post bank is the cheapest for sending money to foreign accounts (the staff is however, very slow but still friendly)
- Yamaguchi Hospital, Right next to Ota Higashi High School, They don't speak the first lick of English, but they're nice, and a little Japanese goes a long way. The doctor's sense of humor will sometimes cause him to do things like whack you on sunburns to ascertain that they really hurt, but if you can tolerate his "you did this to yourself, you know," mentality about stupid things you do to yourself, he's a great guy. If it's a real illness that you didn't do to yourself like an idiot, you'll be taken top-notch care of and sent home with medicines that actually have real, explainable functions, that will be fully explained to you both at the pharmacy and through the US-style printout they give you of what it is, what it looks like, what it does, and what it does that you don't want it to do.
- Ota General Hospital, Along the Yasegawa, Walk east along Honcho Street. Turn right at the YAse River. It will be on your left., There are a few English speaking doctors and nurses here. However, being the main hospital in Ota you can expect long waits.
- Ota Central Library (市立中央図書館), 群馬県太田市飯塚町1549-2, (On the 323 east of the 407 about 3 lights.), 0276-48-6226, . Mon-Fri 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. Sat & Sun 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed the last Thursday of each month and holidays.. Central Library with a decent section of English books and movies.
- Service name here, Description here
- Ota Sports Park (太田市運動公園), (Right next to the Fuji Heavy Industries factory on the border with Oizumi), Open everyday. Gymnasium, baseball fields, soccer fields, track, playground and jogging trail available for the public.
- JTB, In Aeon, It's just a chain travel agency. Good in a pinch or if you want a travel package.