Kiryū (桐生; ) is a city in Gunma prefecture in the Kanto region of Japan.

Fine old wooden house in Kiryu


Kiryū lies about 90 km northwest of Tokyo (as the crow flies), and just across the Tochigi prefectural boundary from Ashikaga. During Edo times, 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 one of the major manufacturing centers for pachinko machines.

Kiryū's international sister cities are two other textile and manufacturing towns in the foothills: 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 in Georgia.

The Kiryū School of Textiles, founded in 1915, has now grown into Gunma University's Faculty of Engineering , 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.

Get in

By train

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 (near JR Kiryū station).

By bus

The Keisei Bus Salvia line runs directly between Narita airport and Kiryū 4 times each way daily for ¥4300 one way. The trip takes about 3 hours, depending on Tokyo traffic. Four buses leave JR Kiryū station South Exit between 4:20AM and noon, and four buses leave Narita for Kiryū between 3:15 and 7:50PM.

A Limousine Bus Route also runs directly between Haneda airport and Kiryū 4 times each way daily for ¥3300 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, 4:00, 5:50, and 8AM, and four buses leave Haneda airport for Kiryū at 4:25, 6:55, 8:25, and 9:55PM.

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 stronghouses, and Meiji-era adaptations of Western buildings. The old urban core of the city is easily walkable. Here's one suggested footpath through a livingindeed, bustlingarchitectural museum .

From the North Exit of JR Kiryū station, swing to the right around the plaza and look for Fuji Halal Foods on the corner of Yamate-dori, running north, and Suehiro-dori, a major east-west thoroughfare lined with shops of all kinds. Walk up Yamate-dori past the modest Nishi Kiryū terminus of the Jōmō commuter line. Yamate-dori will drift toward the right as it hugs the base of the hillside to its left.

When you see the entrance to Nishinomiya shrine with old stone steps from the sidewalk down to the street, turn right and walk east to Honcho-dori, Kiryū's major north-south thoroughfare (and where Prefectural Route 66 passes through the city). You'll be at the boundary of Honcho 1-chome (to the north) and 2-chome (to the south), with a branch of Mitsukoshi on your right, and a gentrified cluster of former warehouses (Yūrinkan) to your left across the street. If time and interest permit, take a walk through the art and craft galleries inside.

Then go straight up Honcho-dori for a few blocks before turning right and coming back down Nakacho-dori, which is roughly parallel to Honcho-dori but drifts east. Look down side streets for interesting architecture as you go. Be sure to stop at the textile museum (Yukari) across the street from Kiryū Catholic Church down a side street on the left a few blocks north of Suehiro-dori.

When you get back down to Suehiro-dori, turn right to head back to JR Kiryū station. There are many choices along Suehiro-dori of places to reward yourself with food and/or drink after the walk.


Headwaters of the Watarase River, now billed as Japan's "Grand Canyon" due to caustic pollution from the Ashio Copper Mine

Buy a one-day pass (¥1800) 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. Take your provisions with you and bring your trash back out. Here are a few possibilities, starting from the top:


The local specialties are silk and textile handicrafts, shiitake and other mushrooms , and local sake brews like Akagisan, named after a nearby mountain.



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