Visit Date: 11/02/2014 (Best viewing Time: mid October to early November)
Karuizawa is a laid-back town located at the foot of the active volcano Mt. Asama in southeastern Nagano, Japan. The town is situated on a plateau with an altitude of about 1,000 meters and surrounded by various mountains giving it a breezy and refreshing environment. It was introduced as a mountain resort by a Canadian missionary in the late 1800s.
The town offers various outdoor activities, scenic locations, shopping opportunities, and relaxing dining places. It is an ideal venue for nature as well as fashion lovers. Its lovely natural attractions provides magnificent views of fall colors and offers many sight-seeing activities.
Karuizawa possesses an attractive fall season which is best enjoyed by cycling, hiking, or visiting the popular viewing locations. Numerous bicycle rental shops are located near the Karuizawa Station with some shops even equipped with baby seats. Rental fees usually range between ¥1,000 to ¥1,500 for a day’s use. From the station, visitors can cycle around the town passing by parks and sites then through the woods, admiring the charming holiday villas and immersing in the refreshing forest air.
The Kumobaike in Kyu-Karuizawa is located about 1.5 kilometers, which is about 20 minutes walk, from Karuizawa Station. A scenic walking path around the pond takes less than 30 minutes and provides visitors with a view of the serene water from the pond reflecting the gorgeous hues of the season.
St. Paul’s Catholic Church
A small, rustic-style church founded in 1935 by the British word priest. It is considered as a tourist destination as the church appeared in the novel “Ki no Jujika” by Tatsuo Hori, and it also served as a wedding venue for many Japanese celebrities.
The largest waterfall in Karuizawa which is about 20 meters high and dash down a stunning cliff among rocks and dense vegetation. The stroll along the walking path allows visitors to commune with nature and enjoy the fresh air and sound of flowing water.
Karuizawa Stone Church
The church was built in commemoration of Uchimura Kanzo, a Japanese author and also a Christian evangelist. It was designed by an American architect, Kendrick Kellogg, based on the concept of organic architecture – using natural elements such as stone, sunlight, water, green and wood. The church presents a romantic and dreamy atmosphere making it a popular venue for weddings.
Karuizawa can easily be reached from Tokyo Station in about 70 minutes via the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen, alighting in Karuizawa Station. One-way journey costs ¥5,910 and is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass and JR East Pass.
However, non-Japanese residents can purchase the JR Kanto Area Pass, which costs ¥8,300, which is a discounted pass that provides 3-consecutive days of unlimited rides on JR trains in Tokyo and the surrounding Kanto area.