Tatebayashi (館林市 Tatebayashi-shi?) is a city in Gunma prefecture near the end of the southeasternmost tip. It is surrounded by Meiwa to the south, Itakura to the east, Oizumi and Oura to the west, and Sano and part of Ashikaga to the north, both in Tochigi prefecture. It has a population of just over 80,000 people and is known to many Japanese people as the home of つつじヶ丘公園 (Tsutsuji-ga-oka Park, or Azalea Hill Park).
To/from the airportEdit
From Narita and Haneda airport, there is regular bus service from the terminals to Tatebayashi city hall and an outlying bus terminal. Tickets must be reserved in advance at a 7-11. One way service to Narita is 4,200 yen.
Tatebayashi Station is a stop for the Ryomo express train on the Tobu Isesaki Line, as well as a terminal for the minor Tobu Higashi-Koizumi Line that runs to Oura. Trains bound in all directions except north pass through here. From Tatebayashi Station to Asakusa Station in Tokyo usually takes just under two hours, depending on the time of day and day of the week. Morinjimae Station is the stop just south of Tatebayashi and may be the closer station for some of the ALTs living in the south. The Ryomo train doesn't stop here, so if that's your game get on up to Tatebayashi Station. Watarase Station to the north is more easily accessed by the lone northern ALT and can be used to lessen bike riding distance on day trips by riding it down to Tatebayashi Station.
The Tohoku Express toll road passes through the edge of Tatebayashi, as well as major highways 50, 122, 354, and several others. Tatebayashi is quite accessible by car and nearly all businesses have plenty of parking.
Tatebayashi is refreshingly easy to navigate by bicycle or foot. It's not a very large city, but it has plenty of well-laid-out sidewalks in major areas and a lot of greenery.
There are five junior high school JET placements and one high school placement in Tatebayashi. All elementary schools are covered by private ALTs, leaving the JET ALTs based very strongly at one school each. During slow times such as test days, the junior high ALTs make periodic visits to area kindergartens.
3 are going and 3 are coming!
Places to visitEdit
- Tatebayashi Prefectural Art Museum (群馬県立館林美術館), 〒374-0076 Gunma Prefecture, Tatebayashi, Hinatacho, 2003, (https://gmat.pref.gunma.jp), Has a respectable collection. Interesting exhibits periodically come through.
- Tsutsuji-ga-oka Park (つつじヶ丘公園), Central Tatebayashi, (The actual Flower Mountain (花山) is on the south side of Jounuma Lake, on the east part of the park. The swimming pool is central, and there are several other gardens scattered throughout.), This park is famous amongst Japanese for having the most koinobori (carp streamers) flown at once in the whole world. Early spring is the peak time for viewing the azalea bushes, some of which are around 500 years old. Golden Week is a prime time for having a hanami party under the white sakura trees and seeing the koinobori, and there are several matsuri during the year here, too, including the summer hand-held homemade fireworks display. It's no design mistake that the park is at the geographic heart of the city.
- Morinji Temple (茂林寺), Not far from Morinjimae Station, Morinji Temple is the resting place of a water kettle with an interesting mythology. Several hundred years ago, as Tatebayashi was suffering from a drought, a tanuki turned itself into a water kettle and offered itself to the monks to save the city. Apparently it remains in the form of this water kettle and is enshrined here. The temple grounds are beautiful, especially during sakura season when the enormous white sakura bloom, but it's gorgeous year-round and has dozens of statues of tanuki of every shape, size, and endowment, including some lesser-seen female statues. The nearby park and wetlands are worth a look as well.
- Veggie Popolo (べジーポポロ), Just across from Jounuma Gym in the central park, Great vegetarian fare. It would be vegan, but they use cheese occasionally (although it is non-rennet cheese, so it's purely lactovegetarian). They have a lunch and dinner menu, and on Saturdays from 6:30 on they have all-you-can-eat buffet style dining. The owner also speaks a good deal of English. Their house band, JET Coaster, is sort of on awkward hiatus due to the lead guitarist ending his stay in Japan...you want to join, right? ^^
- Fukuyoshi (福よし), Wonderful, thick, juicy, tender tonkatsu (pork cutlets) if vegetarian just isn't your thing. They're locally famous and use locally-grown products. Some of the best tonkatsu to be had anywhere. They also have monolithic ebi fry. Not for those on a diet, however: their secret is deep frying the meat in lard.
- Ramen (ラメンやさん), There are many hand-make ramen shops in Tatebayashi! Places such as Gochiya (ごちや), Porepore (ポレポレ), Kanemasa (金正), and much more! Make sure to ask your teachers for their favorite recommendations.
- Tatebayashi Credit Union (館林信用金庫 - Tatebayashi Shinyo Kinko or Tateshin), City Hall Branch - 8:30 to 5:30. This is the city bank that the ALTs are paid through. There is only one branch of it outside the city, but with a cash card and some Japanese reading ability, accounts can be accessed from postal ATMs, or from any local 7-11s as well! It is recommended by some to open a second bank account with Mizuho Bank, a national chain, or the Post Office bank so that one can access their money easily when they travel.
- Manaka Ladies' Clinic (真中クリニック), 3 Chome-4-5 Honchō, Tatebayashi-shi, Gunma-ken, (https://med-manaka.org), 0276-72-1630, Mon Tues Wed Fri - 9:30 to 12:30 and 2:00 to 5:30. Thurs - 9:00 to Noon. Sat - 9:00 to 12:30. Closed Thurs and Sun.. While specialising in women's care, they are a general clinic as well. A good place for birth control services. First come first serve basis. Like most medical services they keep odd hours. Dr. Manaka can speak English but the others can't. If this concerns you just call ahead and ask if "今日は英語が話せる先生がいますか" - "Kyou wa eigo ga hanaseru sensei ga imasu ka"
- REAL (リアル), (About 500 meters west of Jonuma gym on Right. Situated in a small shopping strip along with ZeroTown Hotel.), 0276-72-1741, Mr. Yamaguchi doesn't speak english, but he can slow down his Japanese and uses gestures to communicate. He's a pretty cool guy, you can also show him a picture and he'll work with that. He does men's and womens hair. Men's hair from 1500 yen.
- Jounuma public gym (城沼体育館), 〒374-0017 Gunma Prefecture, Tatebayashi, Tsutsujicho, 14−1, (https://goo.gl/maps/Pq9kGjcJj6Q2), 9 am to 9 pm. Closed the 25th. (Or the Monday after if the 25th is a Sunday). Local Community Gym. Has a basketball court. Several recreational rooms. Weight Room. Has available to rent for super cheap. Recreational classes can be signed up for here as well. Many school clubs will use the facilities after school for practice.