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.
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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!

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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


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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

  

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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!

 

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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.

Resort Inn “Candytuft” in Karuizawa

December 20th, 2011 by
Category: Accomodations, Cuisine, Information, Report
outside_winter
The appearance of the resort inn “Candytuft” in winter. The antique pink building is charming.
 
dining
You enjoy dinner and breakfast in this spacious dining room with a warm wood-burning stove.

If you want to enjoy Karuizawa, a popular highland resort in Japan, to the full extent, what is the ideal type of accommodation?  I think you will need to find a place which provides comfortable rooms, good access to tourist spots, delicious meals, kind staff, the quiet surroundings and relaxing bathrooms.  Today I’d like to introduce an inn called “Candytuft”, which will surely satisfy those needs I mentioned.

Candytuft is located in the quiet area called Minamigaoka, where there are a lot of trees and holiday homes.  If you walk or cycle around the inn, you will soon find the typical beautiful scenery of Karuizawa.  Yet, it is only 1.9 kilometers from Karuziawa Station and has good access to popular sightseeing spots, including Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza (famous outlet mall) and Karuizawa Prince Snow Resort (skiing and snowboarding facility).  And to the convenience of tourists using trains, the hotel can pick you up at Karuizawa Station as long as you make a pickup reservation in advance.  That would be helpful especially for visitors from overseas.

Other than its location, I would like to talk about the inn itself.  There are ten nicely decorated Western-style rooms, nine of which with a bath and a toilet, one with a toilet, and all with a washbasin.  Aside from a bathroom within a guest room, the inn has two independent family bathrooms, which can be used privately.  You can relax in a bigger bathroom with artificial hot-spring water.  As for meals, you can enjoy tasty Western-style dinner and breakfast in the beautiful dining room with a lovely wood-burning stove.  At the corner of the dining room, you will find a display of premium shochu (Japanese alcoholic drink) bottles.  You can sip these shochu or other alcoholic beverages during your meal or in your room.

 I’m sure you will have a wonderful time if you stay at Candytuft and explore Karuizawa.

twin_room
A twin room with a bath and a toilet. There are 10 guest rooms in European taste.
 
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Guests can also use a family bathroom with artificial hot-spring water.  Have a private relaxing time!  
sake

You can enjoy drinking from a large collection of alcoholic beverages.

 

breakfast

Fresh breakfast is served in a dining room with a view of the beautiful outside scenery.

 

lounge

There are tourist guidebooks in the lounge.

Name of the facility Candytuft
Description of business Accommodation in Western style with a capacity of 23 guests
Address 1143-10, Karuizawa, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano-ken, 389-0102
TEL / FAX
  • TEL: 0267-41-1350 (Japan country code: 81)
  • FAX: 0267-41-1353 (Japan country code: 81)
E-mail p-candy@alto.ocn.ne.jp
URL
Access
  • Pickup and sending service available with advanced reservation. Please contact the inn.
  • If you walk, it takes 25 minutes from Karuizawa Station (1.9 km).
  • If you take a taxi, it takes 5 minutes from Norh Exit of Karuizawa Station (about JPY1,100).
Operating dates and hours Closed on Dec 31 and Jan 1. Other irregular closure is possible, so please contact the inn. 
Prices JPY8,000 to JPY13,000 per night per person with breakfast (the price varies seasonally).
How to contact Email only
General information of Karuizawa Contact Karuizawa Tourist Information Offices: TEL: 0267-42-5538 (Old Town) / 0267-42-2491 (Karuizawa Station) / 0267-45-6050 (Naka Karuizawa Station). http://karuizawa-kankokyokai.jp/ (Click “English” button.)

HOTEL CYPRESS KARUIZAWA

December 2nd, 2011 by
Category: Accomodations, Cuisine, Events, Experience, Information, Onsens (Hot Springs), Report, Sightseeing
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Standard Twin room (30 square meters). All the guest rooms of HOTEL CYPRESS KARUIZAWA are spacious.
 
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Open bath attached to Special Roten Room. You can enjoy a relaxing bath time privately.

HOTEL CYPRESS KARUIZAWA is within a 15-minute walk of Karuizawa Station.  There is no doubt that the convenient location is an advantage, but the hotel’s attractions do not end there. 

The hotel is in the center of Karuizawa, yet it faces a quiet street.  The neighborhood has a lot of greenery, so you can enjoy your holiday surrounded by the refreshing environment.  When you arrive at the hotel and enter your room, you will be pleasantly surprised at its spaciousness.  Even the smallest room has the area of 30 square meters, and the majority of the rooms have the area of 50 or more square meters. 

Another fascination is bath.  There is a large public bath with radium spring water, which is good for your health.  Furthermore, some of the rooms have a private open-air bath attached to the room (the right photo above).  Those baths will surely relax your body and mind.

Cuisine would also be satisfactory.  For dinner, you can choose from French food and Japanese food.  You would enjoy a lot of fresh local ingredients with good wine.  For Japanese food, they offer such food as shabushabu (thinly-sliced beef cooked in a pan on the table), teppan-yaki (hot plate cooking) and hot pot.

I hope you will have a wonderful stay at HOTEL CYPRESS KARUIZAWA.

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Teppan-Yaki (cooked on a hot plate) premium beef is served at the hotel’s Japanese restaurant “Bien”.  
 
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A romantic night view of the courtyard reminiscent of a forest in Karuizawa.
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This large public bath is open exclusively to hotel guests.

 

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An example of French multi-course dinner.

 

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The hotel's entrance. You can walk from Karuizawa Station.

Name of the facility HOTEL CYPRESS KARUIZAWA
Description of business Accommodation (capacity: 355 guests) with tea and bar lounge, French restaurant, Teppan-Yaki restaurant, wedding chapel, spa salon, banquet rooms and public and private baths.  
Address 287-1, Karuizawa-higashi, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano-ken, 389-0104
TEL / FAX
  • TEL: 0267-42-0011 (Japan country code: 81)
  • FAX: 0267-42-0989 (Japan country code: 81)
E-mail info.karuizawa@urhm-inc.jp
URL http://www.cypresshotels.co.jp/karuizawa/index.html
Access 15 minutes on foot from Karuizawa Station. Go out of North Exit of Karuizawa Station and walk 700 meters toward the direction of Naka-Karuizawa. Map is here: http://www.cypresshotels.co.jp/karuizawa/access/index.html
Operating dates and hours Contact for winter closure (about 10 days). The restaurants are from 18:00 to 22:00 (last orders at 20:30, reservation needed). The lounge is from 10:00 to 22:00 (23:00 on days before holidays).
Prices Minimum rate for a twin room is JPY15,000 per person with dinner and breakfast. Prices are changeable depending on the season, so please contact the hotel.
How to contact Email or contact form below. http://www.cypresshotels.co.jp/karuizawa/contact/index.html
General information of Karuizawa Contact Karuizawa Tourist Information Offices: TEL: 0267-42-5538 (Old Town) / 0267-42-2491 (Karuizawa Station) / 0267-45-6050 (Naka Karuizawa Station). http://karuizawa-kankokyokai.jp/ (Click “English” button.)

Karuizawa Wedding at forestana KARUIZAWA

November 30th, 2011 by
Category: Information, Miscellaneous, Report

// This article was produced in cooperation with Nagano Prefecture Karuizawa High School with the warm support of Nagano Prefecture and forestana KARUIZAWA. Three high school students, Irish, Moe and Yukina tried interviewing with forestana KARUIZAWA and helped me write this article. // 

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Appearance of a wedding facility “forestana KARUIZAWA”. You would feel like you’re in the forest.
 
brinche
All party rooms have a private garden with open atmosphere. This is a garden of the room “Brinche” with an ornamental swimming pool.

Karuizawa, a classic highland resort, is a very popular place for wedding. Many couples and their guests, both from Japan and overseas, come to Karuizawa for their wedding. Today I would like to introduce “forestana KARUIZAWA”, a wedding facility located within the vast site of Karuizawa Prince Hotel.  This is the facility owned by the hotel, so you can stay there before or after the wedding and explore Karuizawa if you like.

forestana KARUIZAWA is made up of the “white” area and the “brown” area, each of which has a chapel and two party rooms. Please enjoy the photos and the interview by the three high school students with Mr. Morita of forestana KARUIZAWA, who kindly held a guided tour of the facility for us.

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— Interview —

Q1 (Irish): How big is the wedding cake?

A (Mr. Morita): More or less 30 cm by 30 cm, but it depends on the couple’s preference and the number of guests. The shapes of the cakes can be designed according to the couple’s request, such as a heart shape, a house shape or a multi-layered shape.

Q (Irish): How much does the wedding cost?

A: This is also totally up to the couple. If it’s only a ceremony, it’s from JPY157,000. The wedding reception with French cuisine is from around JPY500,000 for 20 guests.

Q (Irish): How many wedding ceremonies has forestana KARUIZAWA held so far?

A: We have been operating for 3 years now. I suppose more than 1,200 couples held their wedding with us.

Q (Irish): What is a big round object like a wreath I saw in front of the two chapels?

A: It is our symbol of wedding. In the circle there is a crescent-moon-like object. It is thin at the top and is gradually getting thicker toward the bottom. The thin part represents the bride and the groom of the wedding day. As it becomes thicker, it means the couple’s children are growing and the couple is getting older together. So it represents the bonds between the bride and the groom.

Q (Moe): What is the most popular design for wedding dress?

A: “A-line” dresses are popular, narrower at the top and wider toward the bottom. Other popular designs include a round-silhouette dress and a dress with a long train. Some brides wear a dress with a removable train or a miniskirt-type dress.

Q (Moe): What is the season in which many couples hold wedding?

A: Many couples choose May, June, September and October, because the climate is stable.

Q (Moe): What do you think is important when you give advice to the bride and the groom at the stage of planning ceremonies and parties?

A: We try to listen carefully to their own ideas and propose how to realize those ideas in a concrete way.

Q (Yukina): Is it fixed which music is going to be played during a wedding ceremony?

A: No. It depends on the couple’s request. We can play any music if you bring.

Q (Yukina): What are the things that are thrown by guests to the bride and the groom for celebration?

A: They can be flower petals, rice, feather and so on.

Q (Yukina): What flowers are used for the bride’s “bouquet toss”?

A: You are able to choose your favorite flowers. So flowers for a bouquet toss are not fixed.

Q (Irish, Moe and Yukina): Thank you so much for showing us around and answering our interview.

A: My pleasure.

— Interview end —

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The white chapel “Brasa Bianca” has an image of breeze blowing through the highland. It’s also called “Wind Chapel”.
 
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The brown chapel “Pierre Matiada”, filled with sunlight, has an image of morning dew fallen to the stone. It’s also called “Light Chapel”.
delicieutale

The white party room "Delicieutale". One student said, "You'll surely think some day you want to get married here."

banquet_small_brown

The brown party room "Actro" has an elegant, composed atmosphere.

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Irish, Yukina and Moe interviewing with Mr. Morita of forestana KARUIZAWA.

Name of the facility Karuizawa Prince Hotel “forestana KARUIZAWA”
Description of business Guest House Wedding with 2 chapels and 4 party rooms
Address 1016 Karuizawa, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano-ken, 389-0193 Japan
TEL / FAX
  • TEL: 0267-42-1500 (Japan country code: 81)
  • FAX: 0267-41-1001 (Japan country code: 81)
E-mail info@forestana.jp
URL www.forestana.jp
Access About 3 minutes by taxi from Karuizawa Station. If by car, 11km from Usui-Karuizawa Interchange (usually about 12 minutes). The map is here: www.princehotels.co.jp/karuizawa/forestana/access/index.html
Operating dates and hours 11:00 to 19:00 (weekdays) / 9:30 – 20:00 (Saturdays and holidays) / Closed on Tuesdays
Prices Wedding ceremony is from JPY157,000.
How to contact Tel or E-mail
General information of Karuizawa Contact Karuizawa Tourist Information Offices: TEL: 0267-42-5538 (Old Town) / 0267-42-2491 (Karuizawa Station) / 0267-45-6050 (Naka Karuizawa Station). http://karuizawa-kankokyokai.jp/ (Click “English” button.)