J-List is located in Gunma Prefecture in the exact center of Japan, about 100 km northwest of Tokyo. While there’s a lot to like about our home — good onsen hot springs, lots of skiing nearby, plenty of parks making it a good place to raise kids, plus mountains if you’re into “Initial D” style driving — for some reason our prefecture suffers from an image problem. Actually, this year Gunma was ranked dead last in the annual survey of the most “interesting” prefectures, and for a while there was a meme on Japan’s 2ch BBS featuring pictures of the most desolate parts of inner Africa and photoshopping our prefecture’s name over them. Unlike prefectures like Saitama or Chiba which border bustling Tokyo, or truly rural places like Nagano or Aomori that have plenty of history and charm, Gunma is kind of stuck in the middle. Still, I like my adopted home quite a lot, and whenever I come back after a day of walking around the cramped concrete jungle that is Tokyo, I’m always happy to be home.
“If there’s a bright center to Japan, Gunma is the prefecture that it’s farthest from.”