As most Beatles fans know, John Lennon’s second wife is Yoko Ono, the Japanese singer and artist. During the late 1970s, John, Yoko and their son Sean spent several summers in Karuizawa, an upmarket hill resort town in eastern Nagano. These days, Karuizawa is just an hour or so from Tokyo by bullet train. The family stayed in the Mampei hotel, just off the main shopping street in Kyu-Karuizawa (above). There has been an accommodation establishment on this site since 1764. The main building dates from 1935. Stop by for lunch in one of the restaurants and “imagine” what it was like back in the ’70s.
John used to ride his bicycle to buy baguettes at the French Bakery (below) in the main shopping street at Kyu-Karuizawa (opposite the Information Centre). If you go in there, there is a photo on the left hand wall of John, his bicycle and a basket of baguettes. You can also get coffee, buy some pastries and sit and “watch the wheels go round and round”.
Sometimes John, Yoko and Sean would cycle over to the Shiozawa area of Karuizawa and have coffee at the Rizanbo cafe (below). To find it, head from Karuizawa station towards Nakakaruizawa station on route 18, and turn left opposite the Karuizawa Junior High School. Cross the railway line and then the bridge over the shinkansen line. Head down about another 800m and look for the cafe on a corner on the right. It is across the road from a wooden sign that says “Rantasalmi: Live in log home, Live as you wish”. The cafe is open from early April to late November. Sit out on the porch in spring and watch the birds in the trees. “A splendid time is guaranteed for all”.