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Kyu-Karuizawa (y, Kyū-Karuizawa) was formerly a post town along the Nakasendo Route, one of two major road connections that connected the imperial capital Kyoto with the shogunal capital Edo (present-day Tokyo) during the Edo Period. Today, Kyu-Karuizawa is the main center of the Karuizawa resort area.

The town has a pleasant atmosphere with chic restaurants and cafes aiming at affording patrons and with forested residential districts made up of holiday villas. Kyu-Karuizawa offers a wide range of shopping opportunities as well, notably at the Prince Shopping Plaza and the Kyu-Karuizawa Ginza. Visitors can also indulge in some of the many leisure activities available, such as bowling, golf and cycling around town.

Shopping

Karuizawa Ginza

Hours: 10:00 to 18:00 (Varying hours for shops; restaurants typically open later)
Closed: Varying closing days for shops
Karuizawa offers a wide range of shopping opportunities, including a local version of Ginza, Tokyo's most famous upmarket shopping district. The Karuizawa Ginza shopping street has a romantic ambiance and is suited for a stroll or for buying souvenirs and local desserts. Jam is a local specialty and many shops here offer it in multiple flavors. Towards the end of the shopping street stands the Shaw Memorial Church, founded in 1895 by a missionary named A.C. Shaw, who popularized Karuizawa as a vacation destination.

Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza

Hours: 10:00 to 19:00 (varies according to season)
Closed: Few unscheduled closing days
A newer addition to Karuizawa's shopping attractions, the Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza is an outlet mall for popular brands, outdoor goods, sports wear and trendy items. The mall's pleasant surroundings make it a lovely destination for a walk even if shopping is not on your agenda. There are also a few dining establishments here, which usually operate until later than the shops.

Nature

Kumobaike Pond

Kumobaike is a photogenic pond located about 1.5 kilometers northwest of Karuizawa Station. The pond is a popular spot for viewing autumn colors, which are typically at their best here around mid October to early November.

Usui Pass Observation Platform

Beautiful views over the mountains of Gunma Prefecture on one side and Mount Asama on the other side can be enjoyed from this observation platform. The Kumano Shrine located nearby is also interesting because it straddles the Gunma-Nagano prefectural border.

Karuizawa Prince Ski Resort

This is one of the first ski resorts in Japan to open each year, albeit with man-made snow and only a couple of runs open during the early season. A transition to natural snow usually occurs later in the season depending on precipitation conditions, and more runs become available. The resort might be slightly lacking in terms of size and snow quality, but it is one of the most easily accessible from Tokyo.

History

Former Mikasa Hotel

Closed until March 2024 for renovation
One of Japan's first Western style hotels, the Mikasa Hotel served travelers to Karuizawa from 1906 until 1970. Today, the former hotel is preserved for its heritage, and it is open to the public as a museum.

Getting there and around

Kyu-Karuizawa Town can be explored comfortably by bicycle. Rental shops close to Karuizawa Station and the Karuizawa Ginza offer bicycles at around 1000 yen per day. For good walkers, exploring the town on foot is also pleasant; the walk from Karuizawa Station to the Former Mikasa Hotel takes just under an hour one way, and stops can be made at various attractions along the way.

Various buses travel between Karuizawa Station and the Karuizawa Ginza multiple times per hour (5-10 minutes, 150-160 yen one way), including buses by Kusakaru Kotsu that continue via the Shiraito Waterfall (25 minutes, 720 yen) in the direction of Kusatsu Onsen and Seibu buses that continue to Naka-Karuizawa.

How to get to and around Karuizawa

Hotels around Karuizawa

Top rated in Karuizawa
Budget:
    • B&B Hotel Hyochoan
      Mid-range
      Opened in August 2012, B&B Hotel Hyochoan offers simple Western-style accommodations. Free in-room WiFi is available and guests can enjoy bird watching from the propertyfs terrace. JR Karuizawa Station is a 15-minute drive away. The air-conditioned rooms feature a flat-screen TV with Apple TV, Hulu and Netflix, an iPod docking system and an electric kettle with green tea bags. Japanese Yukata robes are provided for all guests and the en suite bathroom comes with a bathtub. A washing machine can be used free of charge during specific hours, upon request, and free private parking is on site. Luggage storage is provided at the front desk. A free shuttle is available from JR Karuizawa Station, if requested in advance. The property is handicap-accessible. Japanese and Western homemade meals are available at Caf? Hyochoan. Guests can soak in the Hoshino Hot Spring just 3-minutes away via car or visit the famous Shiraito Falls with a 7-minute drive. Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza and Lake Kumoba can both be reached with a 15-minute drive.
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    • Hotel Wellies
      Mid-range
      Situated along a peaceful tree-lined street in Karuizawa, Hotel Wellies offers a British country hotel experience in the highland resort area. There is an English style garden with a lawn and gazebo and it comes with an English-language library, homemade British meals and spacious guest rooms that went through renovations every year since opening from 2013 to 2016. Free WiFi is available at public areas and all guest rooms. The whole hotel is non-smoking inside and all guest rooms include a 32-inch flat screen TV and a fridge. A hairdryer and toiletries are included in the en suite bathroom. All rooms has views of surrounding greenery, and some rooms feature great views of Mount Asama. Guests at Wellies Hotel can leave their luggage and ski/golf equipment at the property, or use a safety deposit box. Free parking and bicycle hire are available. The property's signature dish is a hearty, hot full English breakfast with homemade sausages, home-cured bacon and black pudding (included in the room rate). A 4-course meal, including authentic dishes such as fish & chips, beef stew, Yorkshire pudding and home smoked salmon is also available at a surcharge. Property staff are able to recommend local restaurants to guests who wish to eat out. The on-site bar offers local and imported beers, wines, cocktails and spirits, including many Scotch whiskies. A welcome tea is served to guests arriving before 18:00. Both Karuizawa Shinkansen (bullet train) Station, an outlet shopping mall, the Prince Ski Resort, Shiozawa Lake and the Kyu-Karuizawa area are all approximately a 10-minute drive from the property, while Naka-Karuizawa Station on the Shinano Line is a 3-minute drive. The Hoshino area with hot spring baths, the Sezon Museum of Modern Art, Harunire Terrace and Karuizawa Stone Church are a 5-minute drive away. The Yu River and local temples and shrines can also be reached within a 5-minute walk.
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    • Pension Candytuft
      Budget-friendly
      A 5-minute drive from JR Karuizawa Train Station, Pension Candytuft offers simple Western-style rooms with heated floors. Free WiFi is available in all rooms. The air-conditioned rooms come with a flat-screen TV, heated carpet floors and a fridge. The en suite bathroom comes with a hairdryer and toothbrush sets. A spacious shared bath can be used for private-use. Bicycle rentals are available for touring the area and free parking is on site. A warm homemade bread is served for breakfast. Candytuft Pension is a 10-minute drive from Karuizawa Golf Club and Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza. Kumanokotai Shrine is a 20-minute drive away.
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    • Kyukaruizawa Kikyo, Curio Collection by Hilton
      Luxury
      Located in Karuizawa, Kyukaruizawa Kikyo, Curio Collection by Hilton is situated a 6-minute walk from Kyu Karuizawa Ginza Dori shopping street. Complimentary shuttle service is available to/from JR Karuizawa Station, 1.2 km from the property. Featuring a local artwork, the contemporary rooms come with a 50-inch flat-screen TV, complimentary mineral water and Nespresso Coffee Machine. The private bathroom includes Maison Margiela bath amenities. Selected rooms feature a patio or balcony with courtyard views. Restaurant Sonorite serves French cuisine featuring fresh local produces for dinner. The property offers free bike and private parking on site. Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza is a 6-minute drive from the property. Haneda International Airport is 2-hour by train from the property, while Narita International Airport is a 2-hour train ride away.
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    • Le Grand Kyu Karuizawa
      Luxury
      Open in July 2016, Le Grand Kyu Karuizawa is situated a 15-minute walk from Karuizawa Station. Free WiFi is available throughout the property. There is free private parking on site. Guest rooms feature classic decor and amenities. All rooms come equipped with a Simmons bed. Restaurant Arpeggio offers continental cuisine prepared by combining elements of Japanese-style and Italian-style cuisines. Seasonal dishes served at this restaurant are complimented by fresh produce acquired from contract farms in the Shinano highlands. Guests can also enjoy a drink at Bar Burgundy, or unwind at the cafe with a terrace facing the street. The open-air bath on site boasts star views at night and forest views during the day. The hotel offers bike hire for exploring the area. Karuizawa Shopping Plaza is a 6-minute drive away, while Kyu-Karuizawa Ginza is a 6-minute walk from the hotel.
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    • Koya Backpackers
      Budget-friendly
      Offering views of the mountain, Koya Backpackers is located in Karuizawa, 5 km from Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza. Free private parking is available on site. Rooms have a shared bathroom. Koya Backpackers features free WiFi throughout the property. You will find a shared kitchen with complimentary coffee and tea. The guest house also offers bike hire. Harunire Terrace is 500 metres from Koya Backpackers, while Yacho No Mori wildlife conservation park is a 10-minute walk away.
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    • Le Grand Karuizawa Hotel and Resort
      Luxury
      Open from August 2018, featuring Mount Asama views and a single-star Michelin restaurant, Le Grand Karuizawa Hotel and Resort is located in Karuizawa. The resort is fitted with garden, bar, fitness and spa facilities including a hot spring bath. Each air-conditioned room is equipped with a private bathroom. Free WiFi is available throughout the resort. Karuizawa Station is 7.3 km away. At the resort each room has a desk and a TV. A buffet breakfast is available daily at Le Grand Karuizawa Hotel and Resort. The onsite restaurant features fine cuisine using local ingredients. Speaking English and Japanese at the 24-hour front desk, staff are ready to help around the clock. Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza is 7 km from the accommodation, while Karuizawa Lake Garden is 1.6 km away. The nearest airport is Matsumoto, 90 km from Le Grand Karuizawa Hotel and Resort, and the property offers a free shuttle service.
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    • Hotel Grand Vert Kyu Karuizawa
      Luxury
      Conveniently located just a 3-minute walk from JR Karuizawa Shinkansen (bullet train) Station, Hotel Grand Vert Kyu Karuizawa offers spacious guestrooms with a comfortable sofa and free WiFi. Guests are welcomed at the lobby with a fireplace. Featuring unique colour schemes and d?cor, each room comes with a flat-screen TV and a fridge. The stylish en suite bathroom comes with a large bath tub, a hairdryer and free toiletries. Kyu Karuizawa Grand Vert Hotel is an 8-minute walk to Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza. Karuizawa Prince Snow Resort is an 8-minute drive away. The nearest convenience store is a 30-second walk from the property.
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    • Hotel Rosso Karuizawa
      Mid-range
      Featuring 3-star accommodation, Hotel Rosso Karuizawa is located in Karuizawa, 1.9 km from Kyukaruizawa Ginza and 4 km from Yukawa Furusato Park. The 3-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with a private bathroom and free WiFi. Private parking can be arranged for free. Guest rooms in the hotel are fitted with a kettle. All units in Hotel Rosso Karuizawa are equipped with a flat-screen TV and a hairdryer. A continental breakfast featuring bread, boiled egg, and salad are available daily at the accommodation. The area is popular for skiing, and bike hire is available at Hotel Rosso Karuizawa. The hotel can conveniently provide information at the reception to help guests to get around the area. Popular points of interest near Hotel Rosso Karuizawa include Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza, Karuizawa Oga Hall and Kumoba Pond. The nearest airport is Matsumoto Airport, 89 km from the accommodation.
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    • Kutsukake Stay Naka-Karuizawa
      Mid-range
      Located in Karuizawa, 21 km from Usui Pass Railway Heritage Park, Kutsukake Stay Naka-Karuizawa provides accommodation with a restaurant, free private parking, a bar and a shared lounge. Featuring a garden, the 3-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi. The accommodation offers a 24-hour front desk and luggage storage space for guests. Kutsukake Stay Naka-Karuizawa offers a terrace. Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza is 5 km from the accommodation, while Yukawa Furusato Park is 1.3 km away. The nearest airport is Matsumoto Airport, 63 km from Kutsukake Stay Naka-Karuizawa.
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