Much-loved as a weekend retreat by affluent Tokyo urbanites, Karuizawa is set deep within a verdant mountainous valley in the Japan Alps. It has the wonderful benefit of having an accessible location, just over an hour away from Tokyo by bullet train, while also feeling millions of miles away from the stresses and strains of city life. This countryside resort in the Nagano Prefecture sits at one end of Japan’s ‘romantic road’ – a renowned route that winds its way through the mountains to Nikko – in a particularly picturesque rural idyll.
Here, a number of scenic spots can be found dotted around; from the impressive Shiraito Waterfall to the volcanic Mount Asama, both of which provide excellent views when arriving from Nikko by car. Respect and appreciation for nature is integral to Japanese culture and we believe that there is no better way to admire it in all its glory than in the most striking seasons; cherry blossom ‘sakura’ season (March – April) and autumn leaf ‘koyo’ season (November –December). Karuizawa comes to life at these times of year, as the landscape becomes awash with pretty petals in the spring and gets set ablaze with the vivid deep red and golden leaves in autumn; both really are a sight to behold.
In the summer months, many venture to this town for a welcome relief from the sweltering heat in Tokyo and to play at the resort’s golf courses. Nature lovers also embrace the unspoiled surroundings by walking and cycling within the atmospheric forests. During the cold winter, Karuizawa is a popular destination for those in need of healing hot spring ‘onsen’ baths, as well as those seeking outdoor activities in the mountains. The snowsports on offer here from skiing and snowboarding to sledging and snowtubing make it an ideal destination for a family adventure holiday in Japan.
To add to its strengths, this highland getaway is also home to one of Japan’s most renowned modern ryokan - the Hoshinoya. This luxury property is the little sister of arguably the most iconic hotel in Kyoto (set upon the banks of the river in Arashiyama), so is of the finest quality, complete with traditional rooms and ‘kaiseki’ gourmet cuisine. We recommend staying here to relax for a night or two as you travel through the captivating Japan Alps.
Features in the following itineraries
- Mr David Wallace, North India
- Mr Geoffrey Johnson, India
- Krista Weir, Sri Lanka
- Mr & Mrs Manson, North India
- Matthew Nicklin, North India
- Mr Richard Stoughton, Sri Lanka
- Jaime Benitez, South India
- Leslie Siben, India