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Sightseeing spots to enjoy Karuizawa in the winter - also popular amongst locals!

Karuizawa, known as a summer resort, is a well-known luxury Japanese resort area. It’s becoming an ever-popular sightseeing spot that’s getting a lot of attention not just domestically, but from many foreign tourists as well. Also, as Christianity took roots here long ago, it’s famous as a town with many churches. Illumination events are held in these churches during the Christmas season in December and Valentine’s Day season in February. Additionally, the ease of access to Karuizawa from Tokyo - less than an hour by Shinkansen - is another reason for Karuizawa’s increasing popularity.

Harunire Terrace

Harunire Terrace restaurant

Harunire Terrace is one of the most popular sightseeing spots in Karuizawa. It’s a tourist facility operated by Hoshino Resorts. Here on a large wooden deck that takes advantage of the Karuizawa wilderness, there are plenty of unique foods on offer - such as the famous Shinshu soba found at Kawakami An, and all-you-can-eat pastries at the Sawaya Bakery which opened in 1952 in Karuizawa. Additionally, there are regularly-held gallery exhibits that display pottery items such as bowls and teacups. These would be great as a Karuizawa souvenir.

A small river also runs right next to the facility. Sit on the bench, and spend some relaxing time listening to the running river stream and birds singing. There are also foot massage shops to be found within the premises - it might be nice to soothe your exhaustion from walking with a massage. A free shuttle bus runs from the south exit of Karuizawa Station, so you don’t have to fret about getting there.

Address: 2148 Nagakura, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano Prefecture
Opening Hours: depends on the store

Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza

Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza

We definitely recommend the Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza for those who want to enjoy shopping - with 240 shops it’s one of the largest outlet malls in Japan. The mall is divided up into 10 locations, where you can visit a range of outlet shops with affordable prices, luxury brand shops, and restaurants. Additionally, starting in July of 2015, there is a free shipping service that sends the goods bought to the hotel where you’re staying. Accordingly, you can shop easy without having to carry anything.

Wi-Fi is fully available across the shopping area of the Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza. As long as you are in the mall, you can conveniently and easily access the internet without worrying about going to an access point. Also, the area is lit up every year, but only from November to the end of February. The dazzling light sways on the lakeside water surface, creating truly magical scenery. At just one minute by car from Karuizawa Station south exit, its ease of access is outstanding.

Address: Karuizawa, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano Prefecture
Opening Hours: 10:00am - 7:00pm

Shiraito Falls

Shiraito Falls scenery

For Karuizawa sightseeing spots, you can’t forget about the Shiraito Falls. It’s a sightseeing spot located on the Shiraito Highland Way, which goes on to Kusatsu Onsen. The 3-meter high, 70-meter wide rock surface has several falling streams of water, and seeing it flow from the rocks, creating a wonderful sound, is an experience to behold. You can get an up-close feel of the power of the wilderness.

Reference: https://twitter.com/karuizawa_shw/status/827399798055526400
There are also icicle illuminations from mid-December through until March. These icicles were made artificially using the natural water that springs from Shiraito Falls. This elegant and fantastic scenery is a masterpiece.

Address: Nagakura, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano Prefecture
Operating Period: Friday, February 3 - Sunday, March 12, 2017

Kumoba Pond

Reference: https://twitter.com/shiratoke/status/709940882481422336
Kumoba Pond, located in Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun Nagano Prefecture, is one of Karuizawa's leading tourist attractions. Every year in autumn when the autumn leaves are in bloom, many overseas tourists come to see the red and yellow-dyed scenery.

In the winter, snow falls around the Kumoba Pond, turning it into a silvery, snowy wonderland. The reflection of the snow-capped trees on the surface of the water makes for out-of-this-world beauty.

Also, from the promenade surrounding Kumoba Pond, you can enjoy the snow-covered mountain scenery from various angles.

Address: Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano Prefecture

Former Usui Pass Observation Deck

Reference: https://twitter.com/kanko_taishi/status/270137303274496000
The Former Usui Pass Observation Deck is one of the most well-known view spots in Karuizawa. From the observation platform with a height of about 1200 meters above sea level, you can see magnificent views before your eyes, covering areas such as Mt. Asama, Mt. Myogi, Southern Alps and Mt. Yatsugatake. You can also see beautiful sunsets at dusk on a clear sunny day. The sunset over Mt. Asama, blanketed in snow, will have you sighing at its beauty.

Reference: https://twitter.com/czoiw/status/873382485010165760
You can also find Shigenoya near the observation platform, a place where you can try the famous “chikara-mochi” of Usui Pass. Chikara-mochi is one of Karuizawa’s local cuisines, said to give you power when you eat it. Aside from the classic flavors of kinako (roasted soybean powder) and anko (red bean paste), there are plentiful variations such as grated daikon and sesame. Also, there’s soba and ice cream made using chikara-mochi - menu items that can only be experienced here. Definitely be sure to give them a try.

Former Usui Pass Observation Deck
Address: Togemachi, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano Prefecture

Address: 2 Togemachi, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano Prefecture
Opening Hours: 10:00am - 4:00pm

Mampei Hotel Cafe Terrace

Reference: https://twitter.com/sam_up15/status/927030949916811264
Mampei Hotel is a famous old hotel, located just 5 minutes away by taxi from JR Karuizawa Station. Known in Japan as one of the “big three” hotels, it’s also famous as being a favorite of the legendary singer John Lennon.

At the Cafe Terrace in this nostalgic hotel, we recommend you try out the royal milk tea - the mild sweetness will help you relax. If you’ve become tired from walking around, be sure to stop by the Cafe Terrace. Even if you’re not a fan of the Beatles or John Lennon, this is a sightseeing spot you shouldn’t miss.

Address: 925 Karuizawa, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano Prefecture
Opening Hours: Morning: 7:30am - 9:30am, Lunch: 12:00pm - 2:00pm, Dinner: 6:00pm - 8:30pm

Kera-ike Ice Rink

Reference: https://twitter.com/value_press/status/914673260997918720
Kera-ike Ice Rink is a skating rink that’s located just 5 minutes away by car from the day trip onsen facility Tombo no Yu. Although most public skating rinks are artificially made, this skating rink is made of natural ice.

In February, the middle of winter in Karuizawa, the temperature reaches a low of -8 degrees Celsius, which is cold enough to freeze the pond. The pond is opened as the Kera-ike Ice Rink when it freezes over in winter.

The entrance fees are 1,800 yen for adults, and 1,300 yen for kids elementary school age or under (skate shoes included). Knit caps and helmet rentals are available free of charge. As such, you can show up empty-handed. There’s also a cafe located next to the skating rink. Once you’re tired from playing, kick back on the sofa inside, and enjoy your time looking at the outside scenery.

Address: Kera-ike Ice Rink, Hoshino, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano Prefecture
Opening Hours: 10:00am - 4:00pm

Hoshino Onsen Tombo no Yu

Reference: https://twitter.com/mamatrip1/status/838225381295452160

The last location we’d like to introduce is the day trip onsen facility Hoshino Onsen Tombo no Yu, founded in 1915. If you’re tired out from walking all day, soak in the onsen and slowly soothe your travel exhaustion. Hakushu Kitahara and Akiko Yosano, famous Japanese poets, are said to have soaked in this hot water with excellent moisturizing effects. Due to these effects, it’s often called the “beautiful skin hot water”. This means the onsen has become a popular spot for many female guests.

Additionally, the hot water flowing from the spring’s source is swapped out every day without using a circulatory machine. As a result, it’s so fresh, you could bring a cup into the onsen and drink the water. Why not trying bringing a cup and having a sip? Admission fees are 1,300 yen for adults, and 750 yen for children (from 3 years old to elementary school age). The indoor sauna and large bath are also available for use. Taking a bath surrounded by a snowy landscape is blissful, and sure to blow your fatigue away.

Address: 2148 Nagakura, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano Prefecture
Opening Hours: 10:00am - 10:00pm

Karuizawa Kogen Church

Reference: https://twitter.com/musizavaboje/status/929853356746588160
We’d like to recommend the spiritual illumination of the Karuizawa Kogen Church’s Christmas Candle Night to any and everyone. As it’s a rather famous event in Karuizawa, many tourists drop by every year. A large 6-meter high tree is set up in front of the church, and together with the forest, lit up by countless lantern candles and illumination, makes for a wonderous atmosphere.

You’ll feel like you’ve been plunged into a fantasy world. This large-scale candle night event is held every year, only from December 1 to December 25.

Address: Karuizawa Kogen Church, Hoshino, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano Prefecture
Opening Hours: 6:30pm - 9:00pm
Operating Period: December 1 - December 25

Create travel memories this winter in Karuizawa

Reference: https://twitter.com/ryokou_tokuiku/status/928614217921413120

So that about does it for recommended Karuizawa winter sightseeing -

though we didn’t cover it this time, there are still plenty of great spots in Karuizawa, such as temples, castles, and more. It’s in a favorable location: just 1 hour from Tokyo by Shinkansen, and around 2 hours by bus from Matsumoto Airport. How about making your winter memories in Karuizawa this year?

Pricing information and schedule may not be up to date and are subject to change without notice. Please check before your trip.

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