9 Places to Visit in Karuizawa, Nagano for a Refreshing Summer Break

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  • Summer in Japan is known to be hot and humid. When you are in the city, the heat can be quite intense. To escape the heat, some travel to other areas so that they can enjoy a refreshing summer.

    In Nagano Prefecture (長野県) lies Karuizawa (軽井沢), a popular summer destination. The town is a mountain resort located at the foot of Mount Asama (浅間山) and is filled with shopping, dining, and other activities that have made the town a must-visit place during the summer. Here are some places to see in the refreshing town of Karuizawa.

    1. Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza (軽井沢・プリンスショッピングプラザ)

    The Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza is part of the Prince Grand Resort Karuizawa (プリンスグランドリゾート軽井沢). The resort boasts a hotel, a wedding venue, golf, skiing, and other amenities. The shopping plaza is strategically located in the middle of this luxurious tourist destination.

    Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza website
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    2. Kumobaike (雲場池) Lake

    Famously known as the “Swan Lake”, Kumobaike Lake’s beauty lies in its reflection of the beautifully changing seasons. This place is a must-visit in Karuizawa. A short trail has been made around the pond for a leisurely stroll.

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    3. Stone Church (石の教会)

    The Stone Church is a renowned wedding hall in Karuizawa. The building was designed by American architect Kendrick Kellogg and the church was built in commemoration of Uchimura Kanzo (内村鑑三), the leader of the non-church movement. The church was designed in a way that it would not disrupt nature.

    Stone Church website *Japanese only
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    4. Shiraito Falls (白糸の滝)

    The Shiraito Falls in Karuizawa has been recognized as one of the most popular summer resorts. It is not hard to see why – the view of the waterfall looks like a majestic white curtain in the middle of the forest.

    Shiraito website *Automatic translation available
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    5. Hiroshi Senju Museum (軽井沢千住博美術館)

    The Hiroshi Senju Museum was built with the concept of nature, art, and architecture existing together in harmony. To achieve this, Shigeho Shinagawa (品川惠保), the President of the Hiroshi Senju Museum, approached Hiroshi Senju, a leading Japanese artist, and architect Ryue Nishizawa (西沢立衛). With their collaboration, they were able to create a place that showcases their concept.

    Hiroshi Senju Museum website
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    6. Kyu-Karuizawa Ginza Street (旧軽井沢銀座通り)

    Kyu-Karuizawa Ginza, or Kyu-Karuizawa main street, is a shopping district in the town. The shopping district was originally developed after Tokyo’s Ginza neighborhood, to accommodate the wealthy people with vacation homes in the area. Just like any other shopping district, there are many shops and restaurants here.

    Kyu-Karuizawa Ginza Street website *Japanese only
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    7. Karuizawa Shaw Memorial Church (軽井沢ショー記念礼拝堂)

    Shaw Memorial Church was built in 1895 and is considered to be Karuizawa’s first church. Alexander Croft Shaw is known as the founder of Karuizawa, and his summer home was reconstructed behind the church.

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    8. Harunire Terrace (ハルニレテラス)

    Harunire Terraces is another shopping zone in Karuizawa. Shopping and dining in this area is a very leisurely experience.

    Harunire Terrace website
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    9. French Bakery (フランスベーカリー)

    The French Bakery in Karuizawa is known for its delicious patisserie. It is also famous for being a favorite place of John Lennon and Yoko Ono (オノ・ヨーコ). The couple frequented this place when they spent summers in Karuizawa. Being a French bakery, they have baguettes and other types of French bread. Aside from that, they also serve Japanese pastries.

    French Bakery Tabelog page
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    Karuizawa is definitely the place to visit during the summer. With lots of refreshing places and activities, you will definitely get a well-deserved rest. Make sure your itinerary includes some or all of the places mentioned here if you’re feeling adventurous!