If television and magazine ads are any indication, beaches are a popular summer destinations for vacationing Americans. Not so in Japan. One of the most sought-after summer destinations is Karuizawa, a high plains area located in Nagano Prefecture. By way of comparison, Karuizawa is to Tokyo what the Hamptons are to New York. Except, here again, there are no beaches in Karuizawa.
The main attraction in Karuizawa is crisp, cool air. Karuizawa is also an ideal mix of nature and nice, local amenities. At your log house or bed and breakfast, you can wake up in nature. Birds chirp. Leaves sway in the breeze. The air is fresh and crisp. Meanwhile, you venture into town to find lovely fresh local vegetables, fruits, and cheeses. If you don’t cook, there are plenty of local restaurants serving outstanding food made of fresh local produce. You can also shop till you drop at an outlet shopping center. If you have a business executive type in your party, there are also beautiful golf courses and tennis courts. And I shouldn’t forget to mention that tap water tastes really good in Karuizawa! Cold fresh pure water out of a sink for free. No need to buy a bottled water or use water filters.
The most famous guests of Karuizawa are Yoko Ono and John Lennon. The pair spent every summer there through the ‘70s and ‘80s. The bakery where John bought a baguette every morning is still there, and the coffee shop where John and Yoko frequented is still there to this day.
Even if you cannot afford a log house, there are plenty of hotels and inns. Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka might be the most popular destinations for tourists, but I’d say Karuizawa is a hidden gem. Although, I heard a rumour that a VERY famous American person is building a house right now.
Apparently, this person really liked Karuizawa! It only takes one hour from Tokyo by bullet train. So on your next trip to Japan during summer, why not include a visit to Karuizawa in your itinerary?