New Train Pass for Exploring Karuizawa, Nearby Hot Springs, and More!

March 1st, 2018 by
Category: Cuisine, Culture Art, Information, Miscellaneous, Report, Shopping

Click on the image to see the full PDF flyer.


The Shinano Railway Banzai Two-Day pass offers great savings for anyone interested in spending time in the eastern Nagano area. The pass covers the Shinano Railway line between Karuizawa and Yashiro Stations and costs 1,000 yen for adults—already 300 yen cheaper than the one-way fare between the two! The pass is currently going through a trail run from February 1st to March 31st, 2018, but organizers are hoping to turn it into a year-round option.

When using the Banzai pass, you can enjoy eastern Nagano’s fresh foods, wine, and culture. I recently had a chance to explore more of the area, and I’d like to recommend a three-day course between Nagano and Karuizawa:
Read the rest of this entry »

Karuizawa’s 19th Annual International Curling Championship

December 20th, 2017 by
Category: Experience, Information, Report

Morozumi, skip of the SC Karuizawa Club, curls the stone as his teammates wait to sweep it.

Curling, called “chess on ice,” is a sport that originated in Scotland. Two teams take turns sliding large stones over a bed of ice, attempting to put their stones closest to the center of the home circle. Teammates have brooms to sweep the ice in front of the stone, affecting the stone’s direction and speed. Beyond the actions of curling the stone and sweeping the ice, curling isn’t particularly athletic, rather a game of prediction and strategy. The only tools at the player’s disposal are their stones, their wits and their brooms.

Both teams discuss the score at the end of a round during the women’s finals.

Curling was recognized as an official sport of the Olympic Games during the 1998 Nagano Olympics, and the curling events took place in Karuizawa. Since then, Karuizawa has held an annual curling championship to commemorate the sport. Last weekend, it held the 19th iteration of its Karuizawa International Curling Championship, where 30 teams in men’s and women’s curling competed for top prizes.

The championship was held at the Karuizawa Ice Park of the Kazakoshi Sports Park, home of the original Olympic curling facility (now used for ice hockey and figure skating).

SC Karuizawa Club team members sweeping the ice in front of the stone.

On Sunday, teams faced off in the championship games. The Men’s finals featured Nagano’s own SC Karuizawa Club team versus the South Korean C. Kim team, and the Women’s finals were between the C. Matsumura team of Nagano and the Fujisawa team of Kitami, Hokkaido. SC Karuizawa took first place in the men’s division with a nail-biting 5-4 victory, and the Fujisawa team defeated C. Matsumura 10-3.

Both the men’s and women’s division champions will represent Japan in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, so look out for them early next year!

Try Curling for Yourself!

The new Karuizawa Ice Park facility, where anyone can enjoy the sport of curling.

Watching curling for the first time, I was at a loss to understand the significance of their plays, but I found the way the teams floated effortlessly across the ice mesmerizing. After the curler released the stone, their teammates would slide beside it, sweeping the ice to affect its speed and direction. To my amazement, the right stroke could make the stone veer to the left or right, passing obstacles or knocking opponents’ stones out of the way.

Members of team C. Kim sweep the stone as it approaches home.

While the skill and strategy of the competing teams were incredibly high, curling itself is a sport that can be enjoyed by anyone. Curling isn’t aerobic and doesn’t require much strength, rather balance and coordination. Adults and children can play together, and special devices are available to assist elderly or disabled individuals in throwing curling stones.

The Karuizawa Ice Park is open to the public year-round and also offers curling lessons for beginners. Curling is another unique way to enjoy the winter season, and a great escape from the heat of summer.

Additional Information

The Karuizawa Ice Park is part of Kazakoshi Park in Northern Karuizawa. The Olympic curling facility is also located here, and monuments are dedicated here to the 1998 Nagano Olympics and 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The Ice Park also has a small curling museum where you can learn more about the sport and its history.

If you’d like to learn more about Nagano’s winter activities, check out our blog on five ways to enjoy the snow this winter.

Karuizawa Ice Park

Hours: 9:00 to 22:00
Holidays: Dec. 31, Jan. 1
Operating Period: Year-round
Address: Kazakoshi Park (389-0113 Nagano-ken, Kitasaku-gun, Karuizawa-machi, Oaza Hocchi 1157-6)
Curling Rink Use (price per hour): Adults/800 yen, Children/400 yen
Rentals: Some items require an additional fee
Access: Take the Karuizawa Loop line bus from Naka-Karuizawa or Karuizawa stations and get off at the Kazakoshi Koen bus stop (14 to 25 min.). It’s a short walk from there.

Five Ways to Enjoy the Snow

December 1st, 2017 by
Category: Information, Outdoor Activities, Seasonal Topics

Winter is a wonderful playground.

The winters in Nagano, while cold, are picturesque. The mountains and valleys are covered in a carpet of snow, trees are frosted with ice, and fine diamond dust shimmers in the air. Japanese macaques warm themselves in steamy hot springs and solitary kamoshika (Japanese Serow) plow through the snowy woods foraging for food.

Most travelers flock to Nagano this time of year to enjoy its plentiful powder snow on the ski slopes, but there are plenty of activities for those interested in connecting with nature and playing in snow. See a new side of Nagano while snowshoeing through the woods or enjoy an exhilarating ride on a snowmobile. See our recommended winter activities below!
Read the rest of this entry »

Leisurely, Luxurious Train Ride: Rokumon

August 3rd, 2017 by
Category: Cuisine, Experience, Sightseeing

From Nagano City to Karuizawa, the resort town on the eastern edge of the prefecture, it is a blazingly fast 30 minutes by Shinkansen bullet train.

Red carpet treatment to board Rokumon at Karuizawa Station

Or, as a luxurious alternative, you could take Shinano Railway’s special Rokumon train and enjoy a leisurely 2 hour 20 minute ride through Nagano’s scenic countryside.

Classy interior

For those that care to indulge, you can partake in a gourmet meal along the way:  French featuring cheese from Tomi City’s esteemed Atelier de Fromage, on the run from Karuizawa to Nagano, or kaiseki-style Japanese from Obuse’s famous restaurant Suzuhana on the return.

I had the opportunity to ride from Karuizawa to Nagano.  The warm wood interior furnishings of the train and the friendly smiles of the attendants combined with the carefully prepared dishes featuring an abundance of local ingredients would have made the trip a perfect 10 for me.

Friendly Staff

However, what made riding Rokumon extra special was the enthusiastic hospitality we received along the way, from local preschoolers to the Station Master at Ueda.

Rokumon — the perfect unhurried way to enjoy Nagano’s countryside.

 

Autumn Leaves in Nagano’s Golden Season

October 24th, 2016 by
Category: Information, Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing

Beatiful autumn colors from Togakushi over the weekend.

While some of the mountaintops are already experiencing a spell of winter, Nagano’s valleys are finally enjoying the sights of autumn. Red, yellow and golden hues are descending from the highlands and a cool wind is blowing through the valleys.
Read the rest of this entry »

Winter 2016 Illuminations and Festivals

January 29th, 2016 by
Category: Culture Art, Events, Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing

Areas of Nagano prefecture are getting ready for a series of festivals in February, and in that spirit I thought I would put together a list of current and upcoming events for the Winter season. Tear yourself away from the ski resorts for a night and visit some of Nagano’s other scenic spots!

Read the rest of this entry »

New Walking and Hiking Guide for Karuizawa

November 2nd, 2013 by
Category: Information, Outdoor Activities

Aussie expat and fellow Go-Nagano ambassador has been at it again. He just published his 3rd book in his Hiking, Walking & Biking Nagano Guide — the Karuizawa edition. Joining the Chikuma City and Ueda City editions, Peter’s guide gives detailed information on lots of well-researched courses from walks around town to vigourous hikes in the nearby mountains.

New Guide Book for Karuizawa


Read the rest of this entry »

On the Trail of John and Yoko in Karuizawa

February 4th, 2013 by
Category: Culture Art, Information, Miscellaneous

 

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”.

 

Direct Bus from Haneda Airport to Karuizawa

February 27th, 2012 by
Category: Experience, Information, Miscellaneous, Report
You can purchase tickets at the “Tickets and Hotel Reservation Counters (Bus Ticket Sales Counter)” in Haneda Airport.
 
Easy and comfortable. Large luggage can go into the luggage compartment of the bus.  Now let’s go to Karuizawa directly!

Now Direct Access from Haneda Airport (in Tokyo) to Karuizawa (in Nagano)

Have you known that a direct bus route opened between Haneda Airport in Tokyo and Karuizawa in Nagano in July 2011?  This airport limousine service is called “HANEDA AIRPORT EXRESS” and Karuizawa route was newly added to the existing routes. 

Now that Haneda Airport accepts many international airlines, including Cathay Pacific Airways, Korean Air, China Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways and so on.  If your flight arrives in Haneda Airport and your destination is Karuizawa, HANEDA AIRPORT EXPRESS will be a convenient and comfortable choice because you don’t have to hassle with your large luggage and changes of transportation.

There are 2 buses a day for each direction, which means 2 buses from Haneda Airport to Karuizawa and 2 buses from Karuizawa to Haneda Airport (the bus also stops at Yokohama).  It takes about 185 minutes to 200 minutes from Haneda Airport to Karuizawa. 

The price is also quite attractive — JPY3,200 for adults and JPY 1,600 for children for one way.  You can get the bus ticket at Haneda Airport.

For the latest information and details, please check HANEDA AIRPORT EXRESS’s website

We are waiting for you in Karuizawa, one of Japan’s representative mountain resorts with great hotels, wonderful cuisines, beautiful nature, ski hills, hot springs, golf course, a shopping outlet mall and much more.

Karuizawa Shiraito Fall shows different beauty depending on the season.
 
Shaw Memorial Chapel. Karuizawa’s refreshing climate has attracted many international and domestic guests since the old times.
For more information:
Name of the service HANEDA AIRPORT EXPRESS (airport limousine bus operated by Keihin Kyuko Bus and Seibu Kogen Bus)
TEL
  • Keihin Kyuko Bus 03-3743-0022 (Japan country code: 81. Opening hours are from 9:00-18:30 every day)
  • Seibu Kogen Bus 0267-45-5045 (Japan country code: 81. )
URL

Special thanks to Keihin Kyuko Bus for interview and photos (the top two photos) and to Seibu Kogen Bus for interview.

Valentine in Karuizawa in Karuizawa Winter Festival 2012

January 27th, 2012 by
Category: Events, Information, Miscellaneous

  

in1
 
f2e30498ee4b

From 1st to 14th Feb 2012, Karuizawa will hold “Valentine in Karuizawa” events to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day as part of Karuizawa Winter Festival 2012.  I would like to recommend not only couples but also many people to come to Karuizawa and spend a special time.  Karuizawa is especially known for its cool and bracing summer, but it is also very beautiful in winter.

Events of “Valentine in Karuizawa” include followings:

  • “Love trees”, to which you can bind your love message card, are prepared in Yagasaki Park (5 minutes from Karuizawa Station), Karuizawa Station (JR), and Shinano-Oiwake Station (Shinano Tetsudo Railway).
  • Illumination events are held from 17:00 to 21:00 on 1st, 4th, 5th, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th Feb.
  • Fireworks display is held from 18:00 (the event starts at 17:00) at Yagasaki Park.  Small gifts and hot drinks are served.  A mini concert is held.
  • Love Message Contest is held from 18:20 on 11th Feb at Yagasaki Park.

I hope you will enjoy the winter of Karuizawa!

 

42798882d081
 
d21102da50aa
Name of the event Valentine in Karuizawa (in Karuizawa Winter Festival 2012)
Dates 1st to 14th Feb, 2012
Place Karuizawa Town (main venue is Yagasaki Park)
Inquiry Contact Karuizawa Tourist Association at TEL: 0267-41-3850 (Japan country code 81).
URL http://www.karuizawamonogatari.jp/valentine.html
General information of Karuizawa Contact Karuizawa Tourist Information Offices: TEL: 0267-42-5538 (Karuizawa Kanko Kaikan in Kyu-Karuizawa) / 0267-42-2491 (Karuizawa Station) / 0267-45-6050 (Naka Karuizawa Station). http://karuizawa-kankokyokai.jp/ (Click “English” button.)

Special thanks to Karuizawa Tourist Association for providing information and photos.