The resort town of Karuizawa in the highlands of beautiful Nagano Prefecture is a perfect destination to escape the heat and humidity of summer in Tokyo. Just a short 70 minute Shinkansen ride from Tokyo Station this summer paradise is the place to be to cool off from the summer heat.
Karuizawa is located at the foot of Mount Asama at an altitude of 1000 meters above sea level. This means cooler temperatures with average highs of 25 degrees Celsius in summer, and comfortable evening lows of around 15. It’s nice to actually feel cool in the evenings once again and not have to rely on the air-con for some heat relief.
Karuizawa has always been a popular tourist spot for people from Tokyo. What was once an upmarket resort town for the rich and famous of Tokyo is today easily accessible and can be enjoyed by everyone. Yes, the exclusive hotels and elegant holiday houses of the rich are still here, but the town has a relaxed and casual atmosphere and is a joy to explore either on foot or by bicycle.
What does Karuizawa offer?
Karuizawa offers cool fresh mountain air and stunning views for starters. The town has a very laid-back vibe with its own unique culture. We like to wander the streets exploring the quaint craft shops and indulging in the amazing food the town has to offer.
The main shopping street is known as Ginza-dori and is located about a kilometre north of the station. The street is lined with cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops and food stalls.
Karuizawa is famous for its food, especially its local fruit jams and honey. I recommend checking out the famous croquettes here as well as the local European style sausages. A must see for any Beatles fan is the French Bakery where John Lennon came to buy his daily baguette. Yes, that’s right! John Lennon and Yoko Ono spend time here in the 1970s.
There is also an outlet shopping mall called the Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza near the station to spend some yen if you need a bit of retail therapy.
The surrounding area also includes camp grounds, hiking trails, horseback riding, golf courses and tennis courts and is perfect for those who love the great outdoors.
Make sure you put Karuizawa down as a spot to head to this summer to beat the heat and enjoy the cooler conditions of the beautiful Nagano Mountains. You won’t regret it!
From Tokyo Station you can take a Nagano bound Shinkansen. The journey takes about 65 to 80 minutes and costs ¥5,500 one way.
A cheaper option is the highway bus which leaves from Ikebukuro, Shinjuku and Yokohama and takes around 3 hours.