Driving from Tokyo

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Chan Singapore 2018/01/17

I am planning to drive from Tokyo to Karuizawa and Kusatsu onsen around the 15 Dec 2018.  Can you advise if it is possible to drive without encountering too much snow? I read that certain route from Karuizawa to Kusatsu will be closed due to winter, is it better to leave the car in karuizawa then take a bus to Kusatsu?


We have experience driving in Japan but not in snowy road condition.  

Nagano Prefecture Tourism PR character “Arukuma” 2018/01/17

Hi Chan,

Mid-December is usually the beginning of the snow season and depending on the year there may be heavy snowfall. Karuizawa usually isn’t too snowy, but I am not sure about Kusatsu. Regardless, the road between Karuizawa and Kusatsu remains open in winter (it is the road from Yamanouchi to Kusatsu that closes). If the weather is bad during your trip, you can always take the Karuizawa-Kusatsu bus instead.

Let me know if I can help you with anything else!


Guest 2018/02/06

My question is similar to Chan’s but the date of my visit to Karuizawa is from 16 Feb to 19 Feb 2018.  Wondering if my driving from Tokyo to Karuizawa will encounter snowing problem on road?  


Nagano Prefecture Tourism PR character “Arukuma” 2018/02/06

Hi Jackson,

February is pretty snowy in Nagano, but as I mentioned in my last answer to Chan, Karuizawa doesn’t receive so much snowfall. You should have no problem driving from Tokyo to Karuizawa thanks to the Joshin’etsu Expressway which has an exit right near town.

But definitely check the weather report in advance of your trip. If there are severe blizzard warnings around then, you may want to reconsider your drive and take a train instead.

I hope that helps.


Guest 2019/08/06

Hi , I would like to ask about 1 way drive from Karuizawa to Tokyo in mid December as my 7 day JR pass will expire on the day we reach the ski resort. We’ll be spending the next 4 days at the resort and I am exploring other options to go to Tokyo apart from using the JR. I understand that it is a 2 hour plus drive. Would it be a good idea? Thanks in advance!




Nagano Prefecture Tourism PR character “Arukuma” 2019/08/07

Hi Elynn,

The Shinkansen from Karuizawa to Tokyo costs 5,390 yen per person and takes between 65 to 75 minutes to reach Tokyo. If you have four or more people in your party and you can find a vehicle for 20,000 yen or less, then taking a car may be worth it. Otherwise, I’d recommend taking the shinkansen.


Guest 2019/08/19

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