How to get to Karuizawa
By train from Tokyo
Karuizawa can be reached from Tokyo in 65-80 minutes by the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen. The one way journey costs about 5,500 yen and is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass, JR Tokyo Wide Pass and several other JR passes. At 10,180 yen, the JR Tokyo Wide Pass, in particular, already pays off for a round trip.
By bus from Tokyo
Highway buses make five round trips per day between Tokyo's Ikebukuro Station and Karuizawa Station. The one way journey takes three hours and costs 2700 yen. Online reservations can be made through Japan Bus Online.
By bus from Kusatsu Onsen
By train from Nagano
Karuizawa can be reached from Nagano in 35 minutes by the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen. The one way journey costs about 3500 yen and is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass. Alternatively, the one way trip by Shinano Railways takes 90-100 minutes, but cost only 1670 yen. There are one or two departures hourly and most require a change of trains at Komoro Station. JR passes are not valid on the Shinano Railways.
By bus from Kansai
Above fees and schedules are subject to change. For the current yen exchange rate, click here.
The primary transportation hub of Karuizawa is Karuizawa Station, which is served by the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen, Shinano Railways, local buses and highway buses. While some of the town's sights can be reached on foot from the station, others are distributed quite far across a relatively wide area and are best reached by bus, taxi, rental car or bicycle. A secondary transport hub is Naka-Karuizawa Station, one station west of Karuizawa Station by the Shinano Railways.
The local bus network is operated by two companies, Kusakaru Kotsu and Seibu, and connects Karuizawa Station to the various attractions around town and beyond:
The most important lines are the hourly buses by Kusakaru Kotsu from Karuizawa Station via the Kyu-Karuizawa Ginza (160 yen, 5 minutes), the former Mikasa Hotel (270 yen, 10 minutes) and the Shiraito Waterfall (720 yen, 25 minutes) in direction of Kusatsu Onsen and by Seibu from Karuizawa Station via the Kyu-Karuizawa Ginza (150 yen, 5 minutes) to Naka-Karuizawa (290 yen, 15 minutes). While many of the Seibu buses terminate at Karuizawa Eigyosho, a few of them continue to the Onioshidashi Park (1230 yen, 35 minutes) and further to Manza Onsen.
In addition, there are a few loop bus lines that connect the stations with several attractions around town as well as a shuttle bus between Karuizawa Station and the Kyu-Karuizawa Ginza. The Karuizawa Free Pass allows unlimited rides on the above-mentioned buses (but not beyond Onioshidashi bus stop) plus rides on the Shinano Railways between Karuizawa Station and Komoro Station. A 1-day pass costs 2500 yen while a 2-day pass is available for 3600 yen.
Karuizawa is also suitable for exploration by bicycle. Many rental shops can be found close to Karuizawa Station and the Karuizawa Ginza area. Rental fees are around 500 yen per hour or around 1000 yen day, while electric bicycles are avaiable for a little bit more. Another alternative is to travel by rental car. Rental car outlets can be found around Karuizawa Station.