Naka-Karuizawa (中軽井沢) is a secondary town center four kilometers west of Kyu-Karuizawa. It has fewer shops and restaurants than Kyu-Karuizawa, but offers several other sites of interest. In particular, the Hoshino Resort area has an elegant atmosphere integrated into the woods, offering chic restaurants, shops and a hot spring bath. Naka-Karuizawa further offers some museums and attractive parks with recreation space.
Hoshino Resort encompasses the vacation accommodations Hoshinoya and Hotel Bleston Court, the unique Stone Church, the fashionable dining area Harunire Terrace, and a hot spring bath house Tonbo no Yu.
Tonbo no Yu Hours: 10:00 to 23:00 (from 9:00 in August; entry until 22:00) Tonbo no Yu Closures: No closing days Tonbo no Yu Admission: 1300 yen (1500 yen during peak season)
Hoshino Onsen is the hot spring at the center of the Hoshino Resort. Its waters can be enjoyed at the Tonbo no Yu public bath house which offers elegant gender segregated indoor and outdoor pools. Nearby stands the Hoshinoya (see photo to the left), a leading resort hotel in Karuizawa which offers further hot spring bathing to staying guests.
Shops hours: Varies by establishment but typically from 10:00 to 18:00 Restaurant hours: Varies by establishment but typically from 11:00 to 22:00
Harunire Terrace is a trendy, upmarket shopping and dining area built on a wooden terrace and surrounded by the forest. It features an array of restaurants and boutiques, housed in attractive rows of shops with wooden facades. Harunire Terrace can get quite crowded during meal times, especially over weekends.
Hours: 9:00 to 18:00 (Mon-Thu, except public holidays) 7:30 to 8:30 (Fri-Sun) Closed: when used for weddings Admission: Free
The Stone Church is an excellent work of architecture. The artistic stone structure blends flawlessly into the surrounding woods; its appearance like a scene from a fairy tale, inviting people to take a closer look. The church's interior is equally imaginative and charming - the reason why this is a popular venue for weddings. When not used for weddings, the Stone Church is open to the public.
Hiroshi Senju Museum
Hours: 9:30 to 17:00 (longer hours during summer) Closed: Dec 26 through February; Tuesdays (except during peak seasons) Admission: 1200 yen
The museum assimilates the creations of renowned painter Senju Hiroshi seamlessly into the venue, which is a work of art in itself with its innovative architecture designed by Nishizawa Ryue (who also created the Teshima Art Museum). A combination of natural light and darkness is used to evoke varying visual experiences. Senju Hiroshi is best known for his paintings of waterfalls.
Hours: 9:00 to 17:00 Closed: New Year holidays and from January 18 through February Admission: 800 yen (separate fees for museums and activities)
Karuizawa Taliesin is a big park with a pond (Lake Shiozawa) at its center that offers several minor museums and a variety of recreation facilities. Some leisure activities that can be enjoyed here are tennis, miniature golf, go-carting, boating and strolls along the many walking paths. The park offers pleasant autumn colors each fall around early to mid November.
Sezon Museum of Modern Art
Hours: 10:00 to 18:00 (until 17:00 in Nov, entry ends 30 mins before closing) Closed: Late November to late April Thursdays except in August and on national holidays. Admission: 1500 yen
Sezon Museum houses a sizable collection of twentieth-century art by international and local artists. The museum showcases permanent pieces of modern and contemporary art, as well as hosts temporary exhibitions with various themes.
Naka-Karuizawa Station is the transport center of the Naka-Karuizawa area. It is connected to Karuizawa Station by trains on the Shinano Railways line (5 minutes, 230 yen, 1-2 departures per hour) and by town loop buses (15 minutes, 200 yen, one departure every 1-2 hours).
The Hoshino Resort area (Tombo no Yu) is connected by free shuttle buses with Karuizawa Station (South Exit, 20 minutes, 1-2 buses per hour) and with Naka-Karuizawa Station (South Exit, 10 minutes, 1 bus per hour). Anybody is welcome to use the buses.
Seibu buses travel once every 1-2 hours from Karuizawa to Naka-Karuizawa Stations before traveling north, some as far as Manza Onsen and Kusatsu Onsen. The "Hoshino Onsen Tonbo no Yu" bus stop is located centrally in the Hoshino Resort area, while the Sezon Museum is a ten minute walk from the "Sengataki Onsen Iriguchi" bus stop.
To get to the Hiroshi Senju Museum, take the town bus from Naka-Karuizawa Station and get off at the Toriihara-chuo bus stop (5 minutes, 190 yen), from where it is a ten minute walk to the museum. The same bus makes a detour to Shiozawa Lake at Karuizawa Taliesin twice a day (10-15 minutes, 200 yen).
Naka-Karuizawa Town can also be explored on on bicycles. Rental shops can be found close to Naka-Karuizawa Station, charging around 1000 yen per day.