Karuizawa is an upmarket mountain resort located in Nagano Prefecture. Located at an altitude of roughly 1000 meters, the town provides a pleasant escape from the summer heat. Karuizawa has been popular with wealthy urbanites since the 19th century. At that time, Tokyo’s foreign expats were seeking an escape from the sweltering city and found Karuizawa. With endless shopping opportunities along atmospheric streets, excellent food, and pretty woodlands close by, Karuizawa remains a favourite Nagano getaway. Karuizawa is located along Japan’s Romantic Road, and it offers nice autumn colours typically around mid-October to early November each year.

Group Attractions

  • Attractions
  • Dining
  • Experience
  • Omiyage

Kyu-Karuizawa Ginza

Kyu-Karuizawa was formerly a post town along the Nakasendo Route, one of two major road connections that connected the imperial capital Kyoto with the shogunal capital Edo (present-day Tokyo). The old main street and historic heart of town are lined with enough boutiques, cafes, and restaurants leading up towards Usui Pass. The cosmopolitan streetscape features eateries ranging from traditional Japanese to French, from Nepalese to Iranian. Today, Kyu-Karuizawa is the main centre of the Karuizawa resort area. Notable buildings here include the Shaw Memorial Chapel, built in honour of Alexander Croft Shaw, the Kyu-Mikasa Hotel, one of the oldest standing western-style hotels in Japan, and the Manpei Hotel, often frequented by John Lennon during his stays in Karuizawa.

Activities: Shopping, Walking Fee: None Time required: 1 hour

Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza

A newer addition to Karuizawa's shopping attractions, the Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza is an outlet mall for popular brands, outdoor goods, sportswear and trendy items. The stylish, 26-hectare Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza comprises six blocks of stores divided overall into two sections east and west of Karuizawa Station. The mall's pleasant surroundings make it a lovely destination for a walk even if shopping is not on your agenda. There are also a few dining establishments here, which usually operate until later than the shops.

Activities: Shopping, Walking Fee: None Time required: Minimum 1 hour


Naka-Karuizawa is a secondary town centre four kilometres 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 various highlights including the unique Stone Church, the fashionable dining area Harunire Terrace, and a hot spring bathhouse Tonbo no Yu.

Activities: Shopping, Walking Fee: None Time required: Minimum 1 hour

Shiraito Waterfall

Karuizawa Shiraito Falls is 3 meters high and 70 meters wide. Its name can be translated as “White Thread Falls” and is derived from the similarity of the waterfall to white threads. In contrast to regular waterfalls, which are formed by a drop of water from a lake or a pond into a river, the water of Shiraito Falls comes from underground, branching through the cliffs. You will surely be moved by the beauty of this waterfall and by its soothing sound. The site is most beautiful in summer when the vegetation is lush; it is a somewhat popular destination for autumn colours around late October each year.

Activities: Photostop Fee: None Time required: 45 minutes-1 hour

Karuizawa Kogen Church

The Karuizawa Kogen Church is a Japanese Episcopalian church that was established in 1921 in a wooden building. Since 1965, wedding ceremonies have also been held at the church. It has since become famous in Japan as a church where non-Christian brides can also wear wedding dresses. It could well be that stance as a church that also welcomes people of religions and ideologies outside of Christianity that has made this a church that is known across generations, right up to the present. Another of the church's charms is that it offers the chance to enjoy light displays, as well as beautiful scenery that transforms in time with the seasons. (Image via JapaTabi)

Activities: Church visit Fee: None Time required: 45 minutes

Onioshidashi Park

The Onioshidashi Park features a landscape of volcanic rocks that gives it a unique and rugged appearance. The park is shaped by volcanic sediment of the 1783 big eruption of Mount Asama. Besides presenting the opportunity to take a closer look at the volcanic rocks of various curious shapes, Onioshidashi Park also offers nice views looking over nearby towns and of Mount Asama on clear days. Located at the centre of the park stand a temple dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy Kannon.

Activities: Photo stop Fee: JPY 650 Time required: 30-45 minutes

Nearby Areas

The Usui Pass Observation Platform is located about four kilometres northeast of the Kyu-Karuizawa town centre, straddling the border of Gunma and Nagano Prefectures. Beautiful views over the mountains of Gunma Prefecture on one side and Mount Asama on the other side can be enjoyed from this observation platform. Nearby is the Kumano Kotai Shrine which interestingly sits on the border of Gunma and Nagano as well. This shrine is a branch of the Kumano Sanzan shrines on the Kii Peninsula. (Image via Karuizawa Resort)

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