If you have never heard of Karuizawa … you’re not alone.
Just a short 3 hours drive from Tokyo, Karuizawa is a resort town in the mountains near Nagano, Japan. Personally I was a little apprehensive about spending a few nights in Karuizawa. After all, I am very much a city boy. Yet I discovered that when one keeps an open mind, they tend to get pleasantly surprised by what life has got to offer.
There were actually many hotel options available at Karuizawa, with Prince Hotel being one of the most popular ones. But we eventually decided on Hotel Harvest (though it was a little on the pricey side) for its food and amenities. I also fell in love with the Onsen here, but that’s a story I have already covered previously 😂
Our rooms came with buffet breakfast every morning and the spread was a mixture of local and international cuisine which I found the selection to be plentiful.
I loved how spontaneous we were during this trip. We had no destination in mind and we just allowed ourselves to stop at random places that tickled our fancy. This random tea house stood out with its lush greenery (and most importantly, it was empty), and we decided to give it a try. I never knew milk tea could taste so good and was pleasantly surprised that Karuizawa was actually know for their tea.
Attractions in Karuizawa
We also stopped by Kumoba Pond which was one of the attraction of Karuizawa which was really beautiful and quiet (before we came). This is a popular photo taking destination during Autumn (when all the leaves turn red/orange) and Winter (when everything is covered in snow).
And can we just talk a moment to look at my potential dream home, I would totally retire here. Apparently, housing prices at Karuizawa are really affordable, with many people buying weekend holiday houses in the area.
Another must-go attraction in Karuizawa is the Shiraito Waterfall. This natural wonder stands at a modest height of 3 meters, but its width spans an impressive 70 meters. Fed by underground volcanic springs, its water source is reliable and unhampered by weather fluctuations. This unique characteristic ensures a steady flow that remains nearly constant, independent of the season or weather conditions.
Besides being an attraction, there are also a few hiking paths and some shops that sell local produces which you can enjoy after your hike. The place is well connected by public buses and is about an hour drive up from the main Karuizawa city.
I would rate the difficulty of the trek to be 5/10? There are some really steep slopes but once you’re over it, the beaten path is pretty easy to walk on. It took us about over an hour to get to the end of the trek – which is supposed to be a matcha tea house beside the expressway.
LOL the promised tea house which I think it wasn’t worth the hike.
There were also food stalls located at the base camps which sold local fishes, peaches and snacks. Definitely worth stopping by after a trek or before heading back.
Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza
The Prince Shopping Plaza is the only outlet shopping mall in Karuizawa, making it a must-go for most tourists. There are many branded and local brands at the outlet mall and many F&B dining options as well. The place is easily accessible via JR trains and have ample parking space.