In winter, the mountains around Karuizawa are dusted with snow and peppered with skiers. By spring and summer, the valley draws hikers and golfers to its green and pleasant land. And in autumn the maple trees begin to bronze, making it a photographer’s dream. With shinkansen linking to major metropolises such as Tokyo, Karuizawa is the perfect twin-centre destination – or escape from the city.
Mountains, waterfalls and ski runs circle this beautiful valley town in central Japan.
Things to do
Ski slopes swirl down Mt. Yagasaki. This is where you can find dry powder and runs drawing beginners and pros alike. The Prince Snow Resort is at the epicentre of the Karuizawa skiing and snowboarding scene, offering equipment rental, tuition and plenty of fun for little ones.
Although man-made, the Shiraito Falls are in a picturesque forest setting. When the leaves turn from green to red the delicate ‘white threads’, as the cascades are known locally, become fairytale-like. This is also a beautiful time to see Kumoba or ‘Cloud Palace’ Pond. If you like your water features less refined and more raw, tackle the walk to Sengataki Falls. And those with a head for heights should hike to Usui Pass Lookout for views all the way to Mt. Asama.
Bring your sweet tooth to Ginza shopping street. Here, in Kyu Karuizawa – or Old Karuizawa – jam- and honey-makers sell their wares. It’s a charming road to wander along, sampling local food and picking up souvenirs such as lace and carved chopsticks. Once you’ve taken in the old town, browse the newest boutiques at Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza.