Just and 1.5 hour Shinkansen trip from Tokyo! A day trip model course around the tourist attractions in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture

Just about an hour and a half by Shinkansen from Tokyo! A day trip model course around the tourist attractions in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture

Karuizawa Town, located at the eastern end of Nagano Prefecture and on the border with Gunma Prefecture, is one of Japan's leading resorts. Accessible in as little as about one hour by Shinkansen from Tokyo, it is a spot where you can enjoy day trips with summer as a summer resort and autumn as a famous spot for autumn leaves.

In this article, we will introduce a day trip model course that can be enjoyed all year round, mainly around JR Karuizawa Station. Let's spend a day full of nature, shopping, and art!

*The products and their prices (tax included) featured in this article are all as of August 2023. The content may have changed, so please check the details on each official website.

How to get from Tokyo to Karuizawa by Shinkansen or Expressway Bus?

Shiraito Falls
Shiraito Falls

If you are visiting the area around JR Karuizawa Station from various places in Tokyo, the best ways are to take either the Shinkansen or the expressway bus. The required time, fare, and number of boarding places vary depending on the mode of transportation, so choose the access method that is best for you.

(Hokuriku Shinkansen "Hakutaka", "Asama")*1

Expressway Bus
Boarding Locations
JR Tokyo Station, JR Ueno Station

① Departures and arrivals from various locations in Tokyo, such as JR Ikebukuro Station, Busta Shinjuku (Seibu Kanko Bus, Chikuma Bus)

② Departures and arrivals from various locations in Tokyo, such as JR Shibuya Station (joint operation by Seibu Bus, Keio Bus, Tokyu-Transse and Ueda Bus)

Travel Time
About 60 to 80 minutes

①【Departure from JR Ikebukuro Station】About 2 hours 50 minutes

②【Departure from JR Shibuya Station】About 3 hours 20 minutes


【Regular Price for Unreserved Seat】5,490 yen
【Regular Price for Reserved Seat】6,020 yen
【Green Car Regular Price】8,290 yen

①【General】2,300 yen to 2,900 yen
②【General】3,300 yen or 3,500 yen

* The fare varies depending on the season, operating day, and service used

*1: The "Kagayaki" special express train only stops at Nagano Station. It does not stop at Karuizawa Station

💡Tips for tourists:

If you are using the Shinkansen, be sure to purchase the railway pass for foreign visitors, "JR TOKYO Wide Pass" (Adult: 10,180 yen, Child: 5,090 yen *2). With this pass, you can enjoy unlimited rides for three consecutive days on trains in multiple target areas, including the section from Tokyo to Karuizawa Station, not to mention the Shinkansen (please check the official website for the railway companies and routes that can be used).

*2: From the sales on October 1, 2023, the price will be revised to Adults: 15,000 yen, Children: 7,500 yen

Day Trip Model Course featuring Recommended Spots Near JR Karuizawa Station

In Karuizawa, there are various spots where you can enjoy nature, shopping, and art. Here are the best 5 spots to visit on foot or by rental bicycle, starting from JR Karuizawa Station!

Especially in summer and autumn, you can tour the spots in a refreshing mood, so let's touch the town of Karuizawa while strolling.

DAY TRIP START @ JR Karuizawa Station

↓👣Approximately 20 minutes

Spot.1 Kumoba Pond

↓👣Approximately 20 minutes

Spot.2 Old Karuizawa Ginza Street

↓👣Approximately 10 minutes

Spot.3 Karuizawa Shaw Memorial Church

↓👣Approximately 18 minutes

Spot.4 Karuizawa New Art Museum

↓👣Approximately 15 minutes

Spot.5 Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza

↓👣Approximately 3 minutes

GOAL @ JR Karuizawa Station

💡Tips for tourists:

There are many shops around JR Karuizawa Station where you can rent bicycles. The average price for a day's rental of a regular adult bicycle is around 1,500 yen if returned on the same day. There are also places where you can rent electric assist bicycles for around 2,000 yen if you prefer a more comfortable ride all day.

Recommended Karuizawa Model Course Spot.1: Kumoba Pond

💡Estimated stay time: About 30 minutes

The "Kumoba Pond", also known as "Swan Lake", is a representative scenic spot in Karuizawa, where the Japanese Imperial Family always stops by for a walk when they visit Karuizawa.

There is a promenade of about 1km around the pond, where you can enjoy the scenery of each season, such as fresh green in spring, deep green in summer, and golden larch and autumn leaves in autumn. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to go around. It is also recommended to take a leisurely walk for about 30 minutes while taking a break on the bench. Find your favorite angle and take pictures of the rich nature and trees reflected on the water surface.

  • Address: Kumobaike, Karuizawa-machi, Nagano Prefecture
  • Access: About 20 minutes on foot from JR Karuizawa Station

Recommended Karuizawa Model Course Spot.2: Old Karuizawa Ginza Street

Image provided by: Karuizawa Ginza Shopping Street Association

💡Estimated stay time: About 2 hours

Along the approximately 750m-long street, stylish cafes and souvenir shops line up on "Old Karuizawa Ginza Street". Since a Canadian missionary established a villa in Karuizawa in 1888, which flourished as a post town (*2), many foreigners and celebrities then began to build villas, leading to the development of the shopping street.

*2: A town developed along the highway during the Edo period, where accommodations and restaurants gathered for travelers to rest during their journey

There are many restaurants and shops with specialty menus recommended for lunch and food tours on Old Karuizawa Ginza Street. Here are three popular ones among tourists.

Store NameSpecialty Menu
Paomu Karuizawa
"Karuizawa Pudding" made with brand egg yolks, North Karuizawa Highland Milk, and selected fresh cream
486 yen
Karuizawa Kitchen Rotary Store
"Mikasa Hotel's Curry Bread" that is freshly fried with a good amount of spice
360 yen
Shirakabado Old Karuizawa Ginza Main Store
"Karuizawa Tart" made with plenty of butter and almond powder. Winner of the Monde Selection Gold Award for 10 consecutive years
130 yen

In addition to a long-established photo shop with over 100 years of history, there is also a coffee shop famous for its mocha soft serve, making it perfect for architecture tours, food tours, and souvenir shopping.

  • Address: Karuizawa, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano Prefecture
  • Access: About 20 minutes on foot from JR Karuizawa Station
  • Official Website: http://karuizawa-ginza.org/

Recommended Karuizawa Model Course Spot.3: Karuizawa Shaw Memorial Church

💡Estimated stay time: About 30 minutes

The "Karuizawa Shaw Memorial Church" is the oldest church in Karuizawa, quietly standing in the woods beyond the old Karuizawa Ginza shopping street. It took its current form in 1922 after several expansions and renovations. Since then, it has undergone repeated restorations, maintaining its timeless beauty.

Open throughout the year during the day, you can tour the inside. The chapel in the grove is also popular as a photo spot.

  • Address: 57-1 Oaza Karuizawa, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano Prefecture
  • Access: Take the Kusakaru-Kotsu Bus or the Seibu Kogen Bus from JR Karuizawa Station and walk about 10 minutes from the Old Karuizawa Bus Stop

Recommended Karuizawa Model Course Spot.4: Karuizawa New Art Museum

💡Estimated stay time: About 1 hour to 1.5 hours

The 'Karuizawa New Art Museum', with its all-glass base designed by architect Rikuo Nishimori, is characterized by white pillars that evoke the image of a larch forest. The main collection includes outstanding Japanese art, such as works by Yayoi Kusama and Yoshitomo Nara, as well as innovative exhibitions that include foreign artists. The gallery on the first floor hosts permanent exhibitions, and has been displaying collections by artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Taro Okamoto in a rotation system.

On the 2nd floor, the museum is hosting exhibitions such as the "Philip Colbert Exhibition" (held from November 2022 to September 2023), which showcases paintings, sculptures, and digital works, as well as the first solo exhibitions in Japanese museums by up-and-coming foreign artists. More exhibitions of contemporary art from Japan and abroad are schedule to be held in the future.

The outdoor permanent exhibition, such as the red and white double heart object "Gate of Heart" by Jean-Michel Othoniel (pictured left) and the "Birch and Moss Forest " by architect Kengo Kuma (pictured right), are also popular photo spots. (chapel tour available)

  • Address: 1151-5 Karuizawa, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano Prefecture
  • Business hours: 10:00 to 17:00 (until 18:00 from July to September)
  • Access: About 8 minutes on foot from JR Karuizawa Station
  • Official website: https://knam.jp/

Recommended Karuizawa Model Course Spot.5: Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza

💡Estimated stay time: About 3 hours to half a day

Located in front of the south exit of Karuizawa Station, the 'Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza' is composed of eight shopping zones. In this shopping mall, which has about 240 shops, there are not only famous brand outlets and brand shops, but also a 'Grass Space' and indoor and outdoor facilities where children can play. Dads and moms can take turns enjoying shopping and playing.

Available genres and representative stores

  • Sports & Outdoor: PUMA
  • Lifestyle & Hobby Goods: PLAZA OUTLET
  • Fashion & Goods: CA4LA, G-SHOCK
  • Shoes & Bags: VANS
  • Services: namco Play Park (Chara Pop Store NAMCO)

After shopping, head to the food court (pictured left) for an early dinner at a family-friendly restaurant! At the souvenir court (pictured right), you can also purchase souvenirs from Karuizawa before heading home. It's recommended to spend a whole day shopping, taking breaks for rest and coffee!

  • Address: Karuizawa, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano Prefecture
  • Business hours: 10:00 to 20:00 (subject to change depending on the season)
  • Access: About 3 minutes on foot from JR Karuizawa Station
  • Official website: https://www.karuizawa-psp.jp/

Extend your trip from JR Karuizawa Station and visit the areas of Nakakaruizawa and Karuizawa Hoshino!

If you're focusing on sightseeing around JR Karuizawa Station, a day trip is enough to enjoy it. However, if you're planning a 1-night, 2-day sightseeing trip, consider extending your trip to the Shinano Railway Line's Nakakaruizawa Station and the Karuizawa Hoshino area, which includes Hoshino Onsen and the Harunire Terrace, where shops and restaurants are gathered, and enjoy the whole day!


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