Kiryu is a town famous for textiles, indicated by the ancient saying “Nishijin (Kyoto) in the West and Kiryu in the East.” The town has many factories with saw-tooth roofs and Western-style houses, which show the town prospered by the fabric industry. Rental bikes are free at some facilities around the north exit of JR Kiryu Station. Ride around and see the interesting architecture.
Watarase Keikoku railway is a private railway running 44.1 kilometers from Kiryu Station to Matou Station in Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture. The train goes through the beautiful valley along the Watarase River. Early summer with the beautiful bright green leaves and fall with the brilliant autumn leaves are particularly recommended. Special torokko trains (tour trains with open carriages) run on weekends and peak tourist seasons.
The region including Ota and Oizumi, located south of Kiryu, has many factories for Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., known for producing Subaru vehicles. Many engineers from various nations live around the factories, and restaurants and supermarkets serve and sell international foods and other products. You may find something you cannot find anywhere else in Japan. Ota’s specialty is yakisoba (wheat noodles stir fried with vegetables and flavored with a Worcestershire-like sauce). Unlike regular yakisoba dishes, Ota’s yakisoba noodles are thick, cooked with cabbage only and flavored with a thick original sauce.
Tatebayashi, located east of Ota, is home to Tsutsujigaoka Park known for its beautiful azaleas. The gorgeous blossoms of more than 50 kinds of azaleas can be seen from late April to early May. Among the unique azaleas, there are large azalea trees 800 to 1,000 years old, and “space azaleas” from seeds that travelled in space for two weeks in the space shuttle Columbia (launched in 1994) with Ms. Chiaki Mukai, the Japanese astronaut from Tatebayashi City.