Karuizawa – Close Up the Fascinating Resort!
- By tomiyama update
Karuizawa is located in the east part of Nagano prefecture, taking about one and a half hours from Tokyo station by Nagano bullet train. It has long had widespread popularity among Japanese people as a summer retreat. As it is in the plateau area, the annual average temperature is around 9 degrees. Although the temperature sometimes goes up to 30 degrees in summer time, the summer average is around 20 degrees, which is relatively cool compared to Tokyo. Therefore, Karuizawa is one of the most popular places to visit, bringing in about 8.5 million visitors annually.
One of Japan’s main resort areas, surrounded by abundant nature.
Karuizawa became popular in 1886, after Alexander Croft Shaw, M.A, a minister of the Anglian Church of Canada started introducing both domestic and international celebrities to it, saying, “Karuizawa, with its abundant nature, is the best place for a summer retreat.” Two years later, Shaw lived in Karuizawa’s first vacation home. Since then, many vacation homes were built one after another, in addition to Western style hotels such as Manpei Hotel or the former Mikasa Hotel (registered as tangible cultural property). Therefore Karuizawa established itself as one of Japan’s main resort areas.
Karuizawa is divided into six areas: “Shin Karuizawa,” where shopping malls and other new shops line up around Karuizawa station; “Old Karuizawa,” with summer homes and Old Karuizawa Ginza street; “Naka Karuizawa,” having Hoshino Onsen, Tonbo-no-Yu, and Harunire Terrace; “South Karuizawa,” centered on museum and literary museums; “Oiwakeshuku no Wakasare,” located at the intersection of the Nakasendo and Kita-Kokukaido roads during the Edo era; and “North Karuizawa,” with Onioshidashi park.
Old Karuizawa, gathering of old style vacation homes
Originally a post station along the Nakasendo road, Old Karuizawa Ginza Street grew into a spot famous for its hotels, then further developed into a shopping area, which eventually attracted many celebrities. Its many restaurants, boutiques, and souvenir shops are a popular place for visitors, especially during the peak of summer.
Naka Karuizawa is full of nature and hot springs
Harunire Terrace in Naka Karuizawa is a shopping plaza run by Hoshino Resorts. It’s a small town created by nine modern buildings connected by decks made of Japanese elm grown by the Yukawa river. It has unique shops, such as Kawakamian, famous for Maruyama coffee and Soba, and Garando, well-known for wooden goods popular among women. This area also has Hoshino Onsen, Karuizawa Kogen Church, and Stone Church – Uchimura Kazuo Memorial Hall.
Drive north from Usui Karuizawa IC on Jōshin-etsu Expressway for about 15 minutes and find Mikasa Dori’s Karamatsu avenue, which was chosen as one of the top 100 New Japan Street Tree landscapes. Big valiant trees line up straight, and sunshine filters through the trees to comfort the hearts and minds of people who are tired of city life.
Shiraito Falls can be seen after driving on Shiraito Highland Way from Toge no Misaki Chaya towards Old Karuizawa Street for about ten minutes. The Shiraito Falls are the headwaters for the Yukawa River, three meters high, seventy meters wide, and curved. The name (“white strings”) comes from what the water looks like as it goes over the falls. The fresh, clear stream has a pleasant cooling sensation. Try the sweet peaches for sale in the store at the entrance to Shiraito Falls!
Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza is located in New Karuizawa, a shopping mall spread over a large area off the south exit of Karuizawa station. The mall is busy with shoppers year-round. If you forget to buy souvenirs, stop by here.
Hotel Green Plaza Karuizawa, a hotel inside the national park
Karuizawa Prince Land is located about an hour from Usui Karuizawa IC on Jōshin-etsu Expressway. It is a resort complex enriched by forests, streams, golf courses, an amusement park, a church, tennis courts, and lakeside shops spread over a hundred million square meters at the foot of Asama mountain.
Hotel Green Plaza Karuizawa is located at an altitude of 1,140 meters, with an average temperature under 10 degrees, making it comfortable to stay even in summer. The place is a treasure chest of plants, including Azuma Rhododendrons (a flower treasured nationwide), skunk cabbage, and plateau-unique flowers such as Japanese azalea (Gunma’s Prefectural flower). This naturally abundant place also attracts wild birds, such as the great tit, varied tit, and coal tit.
Hotel Green Plaza Karuizawa consists of the main building, Connection Court, Resort Building Spa, Princess Court, Wan-Wan Village, and Dog Hotel Pedream.
The rooms of the hotel include Japanese-Western rooms with a mix of Japanese comfort and Western functionality; maisonette rooms with tatami mattresses; playrooms with more than twenty kinds of toy including games, puzzles, mini-cars, and toys for playing house; Baby Plan Special rooms with spacious beds and many baby items; Baby Happiness rooms which are even better than Baby Plan Special rooms; Maternity Special rooms for expectant mothers; and Hollywood Twin Western rooms for those who want to stay gorgeous at Karuizawa Highland Resort. There are a variety of rooms to suit your purpose.
With so much space, Green Plaza Karuizawa even offers Wan-Wan Village, where you can stay with your dogs in a cottage meeting the needs of customers who see their dogs as part of the family. The Village has dog-friendly Cafe Alice, including a space to wash feet and paws. They also have a dog hotel called Pedream so your dogs can be happy while you enjoy the parts of your trip when you can’t take them.
If you have small children, they can play at Kids Playroom with rare overseas toys usually not found in regular homes. The demand has increased year by year, bringing in families by word of mouth, especially Taiwanese.
For mothers of small children, the nursing room has a changing station and hot water for formula.
Restaurant Plaisir offers buffet style meals using seasonally fresh ingredients with over 70 items in the menu. At Live Kitchen, Wakahime beef steak is one popular item where they cook the beef on the spot. There are two sauces for the steak, truffle or foie gras.
Karuizawa Premium All-You-Can-Drink ticket gives you all you can drink, including local sake Chikuma Nishiki, a private merlot wine, and a local beer, Karuizawa Kogen. In addition to this one, Green Plaza Hotel provides a variety of restaurants to meet the customer’s favor, including C’est La Vie, serving French and Italian dishes; Asama, offering Japanese or Shabu Shabu tea-ceremony dishes; Hakuba restaurant at Princess Court in Annexe; etc.
Oku Karuizawa’s onsen, Akebono-Yu, proudly flows at two hundred liters per minute, the water coming from 1,600 meters under Asama Mountain. It is a neutral hypotonic high spring onsen containing sodium hydrosulfite, chloride, and hydrogen carbonate. The water is good for women and children who have sensitive skin. It is also good for chronic pain in the joints and muscles, sensitivity to cold temperature, and gastrointestinal function. Akebono-Yu provides a variety of baths to recover from a hard day’s work, including a big bath that contains 120 people at once, an open-air rock bath, a cypress open-air bath, and a sauna. The open-air baths let you enjoy seasonal scenery, such as falling leaves in autumn or bathing by the snow in winter. Taking a bath while looking at the stars in the sky is exquisite.
When you visit the hotel, we recommend you dip your feet in Chuda no Yu. The foot bath with 100% natural hot spring water, without filtration or additives, will surely heal you of any tiredness from your trip.
You can enjoy tea time while looking at wild birds, such as the great tit and varied tit, at the tea lounge Lilac, which looks over the central courtyard.
There is a fairy forest in the central courtyard of Green Plaza Karuizawa, which entertains you in the summertime with a bright flash of verdure. This forest is rumored to have fairies living in it and it’s a good place for forest therapy, as well. Fairy goods imported from England are for sale at the Fairy Shop in the main building.
Kashshu, a European general store, is located inside the hotel premises and sells a variety of goods imported directly from Europe, which might be preferred by women. The shop also sells Christmas related items all year round. (Except it closes in winter.)
Karuizawa Kogen Church is a church with a full time, foreign pastor to perform solemn weddings. An annex connected to the church has a reception room where a small number of people can celebrate, surrounded by plenty of windows for gentle, natural light. Ride on a white horse and carriage and take a tour through the forest. Its memorable flowers will accent your wedding.
Also on the premises is Karuizawa Toy Land, which offers fourteen attractions where children can play, including a big ferris wheel that small children can enjoy and the Go Go Kids Train, which a child can drive by him or herself. There are also twenty athletic courses, such as the Waku Waku Great Adventure Forest and a facility providing a mountain stream fishing experience. The hotel offers a ticket including a free pass to all attractions.
You can enjoy playing golf at an altitude of 1,140 meters at the Princeland Golf Club. You can freely move around the golf course in a golf cart. The hotel also offers a ticket including access to the golf course.
Onioshidashi is located a five minute drive from Hotel Green Plaza Karuizawa. There are lava rocks created by the Mount Asama eruption in Tenmei 3 (1783). Though hellish, it’s worth seeing such scenery.
Mr. Kenta Ishiwatari, Marketing Sales Promotion Manager at Hotel Green Plaza Karuizawa, speaks on its features: “The motif for the hotel is Tudor architecture, with triangular red roofs. The premises cover one million square meters, with golf courses, tennis courts, a church, etc. Toy Land is the most popular for families with small children. For women, we recommend Oku Karuizawa Onsen Akebono-no-Yu. The Onsen water is gentle and good for a woman’s skin. We also offer a nature guide for tours after 8:30 AM in the summertime, so please stop by our hotel when you arrive.”
“There were many Christians in the early days of Karuizawa, and I feel a noble spirit of purity and beauty has been passed down since then, and it reflects on our hospitality towards visitors.”
@japan introduces Green Plaza Karuizawa with our main reporter, model Mizuha Takamori
Hotel Green Plzawa Karuizawa
2277 Oomae Hosohara, Agatsuma-gun, Tsumagoi-mura, Gunma Prefecture
0570-091-489 9:30-21:00 (everyday)
Old Karuizawa Ginza Street
Kyu-Karuizawa, Karuizawa, Karuizawa-match, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano Prefecture
Nagakura Oze, Karuizawa-match, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano Prefecture
< Reference >
Karuizawa-match Official Site