Autumn comes early in Karuizawa, which is at an altitude of 1,000 meters on average. You can enjoy beautiful red and yellow leaves in many parts of Karuizawa. Today I would like to introduce two popular spots for autumn color viewing. The peak of autumn colors is usually from the end of Oct (maple trees) to the beginning of Nov (larch trees).
(1) Kumoba Ike (Kumoba Pond)
(Photo: Kumoba Pond)
Kumoba Pond is within easy access from Karuizawa Station and is one of the most popular autumn destinations in Karuizawa. Around the pond is a twenty-minute walking trail, on which you can stroll under the beautiful red and yellow leaves. The autumn colors reflected on the water surface are breathtaking as well.
[Access] Go out of Karuizawa Station North Exit and walk straight on for about 500 meters. Turn left at the traffic signal called “Shinonome”. Keep walking along the street for about 500 meters. Then you will see the pond on your right. About 15 to 20 minutes from the station.
(2) Kyu Usui Toge Miharashidai (Kyu Usui Pass Observation Platform)
(Photo: Usui Toge Yuran Hodo hiking trail)
Kyu Usui Toge Miharashidai (Kyu Usui Pass Observation Platform) is located on the border of Nagano and Gunma Prefectures and boasts a fine view of towns and mountains below your eyes. Near Miharashidai, there is an old shrine called “Kumanokotai Jinja” worth visiting. If you feel hungry, you can take a rest at one of the traditional Japanese-style tearooms that serve famous “Chikara Mochi” rice cakes. You can go to this Miharashidai by bus or your own car, but you can also get there by following a hiking trail called “Usui Toge Yuran Hodo”. The hiking trail is like a tunnel of splendid fall foliage.
[Access] You can take a Karuizawa Kotsu bus from Mampei Hotel, Karuizawa Kanko Kaikan, or other bus stops. Karuizawa Kanko Kaikan, whose first floor is Tourist Information, is in the middle of Karuizawa Ginza Shopping Street. Buses are seasonally operated, so it is better to check the operation schedule in advance. An about 30-minute bus ride will take you up to Kyu Usui Toge Miharashidai. If you like to take “Usui Toge Yuran Hodo”, the hiking trail, the entrance is near Nitebashi Bridge at the eastern end of Karuizawa Ginza Shopping Street. You hike uphill for about 90 minutes under beautiful fall foliage.
Karuizawa Autumn Festival:
From October 2nd to November 3rd, Karuizawa Autumn Festival is being held. During the festival period, various special events are held and special discounts are applied to some museums and Japanese-style inns if you have discount tickets that are attached to the leaflet of Karuizawa Autumn Festival.
Access to Karuizawa:
It takes about 70 minutes by JR Nagano Shinkansen from Tokyo. You can check the following URL, too.
For more information, contact Karuizawa Tourist Information Offices:
URL: http://karuizawa-kankokyokai.jp/ (Click “English” button)
TEL: 0267-42-5538 (Old Town) or 0267-42-2491 (Karuizawa Station) or 0267-45-6050 (Naka Karuizawa Station).
If you like to join private or group tours to see Karuizawa and nearby areas, there are some organizations that provide guided walking tours, cycling tours, bus tours, and taxi tours depending on the day. Some are guided in Japanese and others in Japanese and English.
I hope you will enjoy autumn beauty in Karuizawa.