Karuizawa is a highland area located at the border of Gunma and Nagano prefectures at an altitude of about 1,000 meters. It is cool all year round, and is a historical vacation villa resort in Japan and one of the few summer resorts, with an average annual temperature about 10 degrees lower than that of Tokyo.
In the Edo period, Karuizawa was only a lodging area on the Nakasendo Road, and the famous Usuhiko-toge on the Nakasendo Road was on the east side of the area, and because it took a lot of time to cross the Usuhiko-toge, travelers often stayed in Karuizawa to rest before leaving, and Karuizawa prospered. In the Meiji era, Karuizawa was declining due to the loss of the function of Sukeba-cho, but in the summer of 1886, Alexander Croft Shaw, a Canadian missionary, visited the area and thought that the scenery was very much like that of his hometown, Toronto, so he built a villa here in 1888 and publicized it to his friends, opening up Karuizawa as a summer resort.
This started a new page in the history of Karuizawa as a summer resort. In the same year, the Nagano section of the Shin-Etsu Main Line was opened, and Karuizawa Station was set up. In 1893, the railroad over the Usuhiko-toge was completed, and from then on it was possible to go straight to Tokyo.
Karuizawa is a fun-filled vacation spot, surrounded by abundant nature such as Unba Pond, White Line Falls, and Usuibe Ridge, as well as artificial facilities such as art museums, tennis courts, and golf courses, making it a great place for the whole family to enjoy.
How to get there
There are two ways to travel from Tokyo to Karuizawa: by Shinkansen bullet train or highway bus. The Shinkansen costs 1,000 to 2,000 yen more than the bus, but the advantage of the Shinkansen is that the travel time is shorter than that of the highway bus by 1 to 2 hours.
Take the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station or Shinagawa Station and get off at Karuizawa Station. The travel time varies depending on the type of Shinkansen, but is approximately 1 hour and 5 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes. The fare is 5,390 yen one way (5,710 yen from Shinagawa).
Tokyo – Karuizawa
Fare: 5,390 yen, Duration: 1 hour 5 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes
Tokyo – Karuizawa Bus
Express buses are also available from Ikebukuro, Tachikawa, Yokohama, and Haneda Airport to Nakakaruizawa and Karuizawa Stations.
Tokyo, Ikebukuro, Tachikawa – Karuizawa
Fare: 2,500 yen one way, 4,500 yen round trip
Duration: 3 hours
Fare (from Haneda): 3,200 yen one way, 6,400 yen round trip; Fare (from Yokohama): 3,200 yen one way, 6,400 yen round trip; Duration: 4 hours
Karuizawa has a high-cool climate. Because of its relatively high altitude and low humidity, it is characterized by cool summers and cold winters. Even in summer, it can get cold in the evenings, so it is a good idea to bring a shawl or light jacket.
In winter, you will need to take warm clothing. Down coats, gloves, and hats are essential. Especially when going to mountainous areas, it is wise to prepare snow boots with spikes for snow. It is also said that your eyes are more susceptible to UV damage in the snowy mountains. Do not forget your sunglasses.
If you are visiting in winter, take precautions against cold and snow and enjoy your trip.