Karuizawa (軽井沢町 Karuizawa-machi) is a town located in Kitasaku District in south-central Nagano Prefecture, in the Chūbu region of Japan. Karuizawa is a mountain resort town only an hour from Tokyo on the Nagano shinkansen bullet train. Karuizawa draws visitors year round with its skiing, golfing, hiking, good dining, hot spa, natural scenery, and shopping opportunities.
Karuizawa is nestled at the foot of mountains in the middle of Honshu, in Nagano prefecture. Karuizawa town is located near the active volcano, Mt. Asama.
For practical purposes, Karuizawa is divided into two: “Karuizawa”: the area around Karuizawa Station where the shinkansen arrives, and “Kyu-Karuizawa” (i.e. “Old Karuizawa”) just over an easily walkable kilometer north of Karuizawa. Kyu-Karuizawa is the more tourist oriented of the two Karuizawas, and is where you will find the Karuizawa Ginza shopping street.
Karuizawa in summer offers some highland respite at an elevation of around 1,000m from the heat of big cities, and in winter attracts people with its numerous relaxing natural hot spas (onsen).
The mountainous terrain of Karuizawa has also made the town a popular skiing resort, and the town earned an international reputation for winter sports with its hosting of the curling event in the 1998 Winter Olympics. In the warmer months, Karuizawa is equally popular for its many golf courses.
Karuizawa is often described as “upmarket.” While it is true that it contains many elegant vacation houses and some exclusive hotels, the atmosphere of this popular country town is relaxed and casual and without ostentation. Karuizawa shopping is a major draw card, with the popular Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza and more.