Forests and mountains, hot springs, ski resorts and hiking trails: Gunma Prefecture has plenty to explore in the great outdoors. Down in the lowlands, though, this landlocked region just an hour or so north of Tokyo offers fewer reasons to visit, especially when it comes to hotels and gastronomy.

Until now, that is. The launching of the newly reborn Shiroiya Hotel in Maebashi last month has put Gunma’s capital city back on the map with a bang. Bringing together outstanding art, architecture and interior design, it has generated international interest and brought back some buzz to a part of Japan that has lost its sparkle in recent decades.

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