Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Karuizawa : A Mountain Resort for all Seasons

Karuizawa Japan

Karuizawa is a popular mountain resort town located at the foot of Mt. Asama (2568 m.) in the eastern region of Nagano Prefecture. It is a spot to travel to taking a holiday from the hot summer days at Tokyo . The place has a cool and misty atmosphere with beautiful forest spread over the highland of 1,000 meters.The clean and fresh air as well as young and fresh green nature provided here is a way to relax. At Karuizawa visitors can stay and enjoy in many hotels which have originated long a head of time and maintain their elegance to date. There are several rent-a-cycle shops near the station, and many visitors to the area enjoy cycling through the woods to immerse themselves in the refreshing forest air. Good Hot springs, camping grounds, tennis courts, skating rinks, golf courses and many other well maintained tourist attractions are located in the surrounding area. It takes 65 minutes from Tokyo to Karuizawa by Nagano Sinkansen Bullet train. 

Mt. Asama-yama

Mt Asama Karuizawa Japan

Mt. Asama is a three-fold composite volcano towering in the northwest of Karuizawa, between Gunma and Nagano prefectures and its highest point is 2565m high. Visitors can  find a caldera called "Okama" at its top and toward the west, Mt. Maekake which forms the inner-ring. Moreover, there are Mt. Kurofu which forms the outer-ring and some parasitic volcanos such as Mt. Sho-asama (Small Asama). It commands a splendid view from its summit and belongs to Joshinetsu National Park.Since 685, about 50 explosions have occured in this mount and even now, it continues to fume and is considered one of the most active volcanos in Japan. Since 1911, it has been under the continual observation.Mt. Asama being actually inaccessible because of the volcanic activity and many people climb Mt. Kurofu located in the outer ring instead.

Karuizawa Taliesin and Lake Shiozawa 

  Karuizawa Taliesin and Lake Shiozawa

”Karuizawa Taliesin” is one of Karuizawa’s largest leisure parks centered around Lake Shiozawa (Shiozawa-ko in Japanese). It is in the beautiful natural setting of the Southern part of Karuizawa. The park shows different scenic beauty every season. It is marvelous to watch the red and yellow leaves reflecting on the lake during the Fall. Boating in the lake watching the picturesque beauty around is a view worth experiencing. The view of Mt Asama which is covered by primeval forests with white birch trees and alpine flora this spot offers spectacular scenery.There are also various sport and recreation facilities that visitors can enjoy, including tennis courts, rental boats, an archery facility, miniature golf courses, amusement rides, shops, and pottery making experience. The park also has museums and historic buildings and a rose garden. 


8 min. drive from Naka Karuizawa station. 


Adults :800 yen 
Elementary, junior high students 400 yen / 
Hours: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.,Winter: Closes at 5 p.m. 
            Closed on Wednesdays during winter 

Usui Pass Observation Platform 

Usui Pass Karuizawa Japan
Usui Pass Karuizawa Japan

Usui Pass Observation Platform , on the peak above the pass, commands a panoramic view of Mt. Asama, Mt. Myogi, the Yatsugatake Mountain Range and the surrounding scenery. Nearby stands the Kumano Shrine. The pass can be easily climbed in 1 hr. 30 min. from Nite Bridge at the end of Karuizawa Ginza 


From Karuizawa station take Kusakaru Bus or Seibu Kogen Bus for Kyu Karuizawa. Get off at Kyu Karuizawa (4 min. ride) and walk 1.5 min. 

Kumanokotai Shrine 

Kumanokotai Shrine Karuizawa Japan

KumanoKotai Shirne is one of three Kumano Shrine located at Usui, Nagano. This shrine is very unique because it is located on the border line of Nagano and Gunma prefecture. On the Nagano side shrine is called KumanoKotai Shrine, and Gunma side is called Kumano Shrine. Here is enshrined the Holly sprits of Kumano. There is observation hill here for viewing an excellent site of Karuizawa and Mt. Myogi. 


At Nagano Station use JR Shinkansen to Karuizawa (33 min.) the take the local bus to Usui Toge 


             Shiraito-no-taki Karuizawa Japan

Shiraito-no-taki waterfall is one of the most famous sites at Karuizawa. It is known by the name White Thread waterfalls as it falls uniformily from a height of 3 meters with a width of 70 meters long and looks like a long curtain of white threads hanging down. The water is seen gushing out of rocks and so is not very cold. Water transparency is high, and hence it looks like a a miniature of a Japanese garden. As the water falls on to the stones below visitors can notice a beautiful collaboration of rock-moss drenched in water. From the left end of the waterfall, visitors will find a trail that leads to the thick forest. 


From Naka Karuizawa station take Kusakaru Kotsu Bus for Onioshidashi. 

Get off at Shiraito Falls (20 min. ride) and walk 5 min. 

Sengataki Falls 

     Sengataki Falls Karuizawa Japan

Sengataki Falls is a eye capturing waterfall that flows down into a small valley. The visitors can take a stroll up or ride a bicycle enjoying the beauty of the fall as the water flows down past a series of larger pools and finally cascades into a narrow pool. The sound of water cascading and the crispy and sweet air with its natural fragrance gives a soothing effect to the tired senses. The Sengataki Falls is a perfect relaxation destination which also allows visitors to appreciate the nature around them, especially during the Fall when the colours of the nature are at its best of attraction with the pretty wild flowers in full bloom. On the way to the waterfall, visitors will pass the Tombo no Yu Onsen, a great place to relax your muscles before heading for a meal at the variety of restaurants available in the area. 


At JR Kofu Staition use local bus to Sengataki, Shosenkyo. 

Stone Church 

Stone Church Karuizawa Japan 

Stone Church Karuizawa Japan

The Stone Church was designed by KendrickKellogg and American architect in 1988 and is based on the concept of organic architecture. The church is known for conducting wedding ceremonies and allowing the bride and bridegroom to take the champagne toasting of their life together in the beautiful forest. The church is made up of stones and glasses, representing man and women respectively , supporting each other. It is built including the five natural elements such as Stone, Sunlight, Water,Green and Wood and is known as the `Church in Nature. Visitors can enjoy the captivating beauty and architectural perfection of this wordly one and only church which resides in the quite forest of Karuizawa 


Take a free shuttle bus or taxi from Karuizawa station to Uchimura Kanzo Memorial Stone Church (about 15 minutes) 

Kumoba Pond 

Kumoba Pond Karuizawa Japan
Kumoba Pond is one of the largest natural ponds in Karuizawa, and is home to a variety of seasonal plants and shrubs. Naturalist and birdwatchers visit here during autumn and summer, not only for the nature, but also to admire the captivating beauty of the reflection of the color of the sky and trees on the surface of the water. The period of the fall foliage from the middle of October to early November, in particular, is a must see. This pond, also known as Swan Lake and is the perfect spot for a walk in the woods. It features a path whereby visors can circle the lake in about 20 minutes enjoy the views from a variety of different angles. The whole pond can be seen in less than 40 minutes. 


From Karuizawa station take Seibu Kogen Bus for Naka Karuizawa via Kyu Karuizawa. 
Get off at Roppontsuji (6 min. ride) and walk 3 min. 

Kyu-Mikasa Hotel 

           Kyu-Mikasa Hotel Karuizawa Japan

Built of wood in western style by a Japanese carpenter, the former Mikasa Hotel is one of Japan's designated important cultural assets. The hotel opened in 1907 and was visited by intellectuals and aristocrats of the time, but in 1970 the accommodational operations ended. Today, a portion of the historic building is open to the public. The geometrically designed window frames and the elaborate patterns carved into the curtain boxes are some of the extravagant ornamentation that characterizes the hotel. Magnificently decorated with a structure full of noble grace, the hotel has been designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan. 


From Karuizawa station take the Kusakaru Bus towards Kita Karuizawa. Get off at Mikasa Kaikan Mae (7 min. ride) 


Adults: 300 yen 
Children:150 yen 

Shaw House and Memorial Chapel 

Shaw House and Memorial Chapel Karuizawa Japan

Alexander Croft Shaw House and Memorial Chapel are testament to Karuizawa’s cosmopolitan origins as a summer getaway from Tokyo for expatriates and Japanese elite The local people established this monument in 1903 as a tribute to the achievements of A C Shaw, father of Karuizawa, who built the foundations of today's Karuizawa. It is also Karuizawa's oldest wooden church. It is known as the church whereA. C. Shaw held his sermons. Behind the chapel is the Shaw House, the first vacation home in Karuizawa. Shaw built his villa here in 1888, and even today the quiet, cool setting in harmony with the shady larch trees suggests why Karuizawa has become a popular resort town. Inside the Shaw house are pictures showing the elegance of resort life from times gone by. 


4 min bus ride from Karuizawa Station (JR Nagano Shinkansen) or 10 min walk 

St. Paul's Catholic Church 

St. Paul's Catholic Church Karuizawa Japan

St. Paul's Catholic Church is known as Karuizawa's symbol. This church was established by L. Ward, a catholic priest in 1935, based on a design planned by an American A. Raymond, the master of modern architecture who also designed the Tokyo Station . St. Paul’s Catholic Church is just off the Ginza shopping street and is another wooden classic construction representative of the area’s natural feel.There are many beautiful and old Christmas decorations inside the church. Karuizawa St. Paul's Catholic Church is famous for its appearance in Hori Tatsuo's literary work Ki no Jujika. 


From Karuizawa station take Kusakaru Bus or Seibu Kogen Bus for Kyu Karuizawa. 
Get off at Kyu Karuizawa (4 min. ride) and walk 5 min. 

Karuizawa Trick Art Museum 

Karuizawa Trick Art Museum Japan

Photographs and touching is permitted at this museum where trick art takes you through a different dimension of space. 


From Karuizawa station take Kusakaru Bus or Seibu Kogen Bus for Kyu Karuizawa. Get off at Kyu Karuizawa (4 min. ride) and walk 1 min. 


Adults : 1,500 yen, 
Children 800 yen (Both tickets valid for Buildings A and B)
Hours: 9 a.m.- 7 p.m. from July to September, 
            10 a.m. - 5 p.m. from January to March, 
            10 a.m. - 6 p.m. during other months / 0267-42-1480 

Onioshidashi Rocks Karuizawa Japan

Onioshidashi Rocks 

Onioshidashi Rocks is 40 min. by bus either from Karuizawa Sta. or Naka-Karuizawa Sta., are lava beds extending from the northern base of Mt. Asama. In the Onioshidashi Rock Garden, platforms and promenades are provided for viewing the whole Onioshidashi area. There are 5 promenades, for viewing lava bed scenery, alpine plants and so on. 


40 min. by bus either from Karuizawa Sta. or Naka-Karuizawa Station. Time required to 
cover the garden is approx. 1 hr. 


Adults: 600 yen 

1 comment:

  1. Nice and calm place to spent during summer, popular for skiing during winter as well ..