WataraseNet has electronic meetings, e-mail, and unique forums like 'A Word to
Administration', City Hall's online 'counter', and 'Healthy Village', a health counselling
service. The database has sections called 'Sightseeing and events', 'Guides to the Kiryuu
region', 'Regional industry information and shopping', 'Audiovisuals and books', 'Online
software' and 'Buy and sell', among others.
In October, 1992, gateways to Internet (one-way), used by universities and researchers,
and Nifty Serve (Tokyo) and PC Van (Tokyo) were established. Soon it will be possible to
access regional city information, the official reports of self-governing bodies, domestic
headline news, Kiryuu municipal library lists, and a commercial transaction service
(merchandise ordering, delivery, etc.) via the network as well.
When the third sector Greater Kiryuu Information Design Research Group was established
to study new media in 1988, PC Network WataraseNet (abbreviated WAN for Watarase Area Net)
became the heart of the Group.
There are about 1300 members, mostly from Gunma and Tochigi prefectures, including
greater Kiryuu, Ota, Iibayashi, Ashikaga and Sano. On September 22, 1992, the
Gunma-Tochigi Regional Area Promotion Association (president Hiroyuki Odera, Gunma
representative; vice-president Fumio Watanabe, Tochigi representative) was started in
order to unite places near the border of the two prefectures into a single region.
The 20 cities, towns and villages in this area, called the 'Twin Prefectures Cultural
Region', have close economic ties, with many workers commuting over the border. In light
of the new association, WataraseNet's dream of helping to create a great city in northern
Kanto has come one step closer to being realized.