Karuizawa Lake Garden Opens and is Filled With Beds of Roses and Tulips
25.April.2018 | SPOT
Karuizawa Lake Garden is a natural garden that displays creative harmony between humans and nature. The garden opened again this year on April 20 and will stay open until November 4. Head there during Golden Week for the best time to see the garden’s popular tulips, and June 16 to July 1 to see the roses in full bloom.
There are 8 areas to enjoy in this natural garden, each of which are decorated in the natural vegetation of Karuizawa through the four seasons, especially roses. Across the 10,000m2 area are close to 400 varieties of English roses, perennial plants, herbs and more. Most of the flowers there bloom along the garden’s waterfront.
The tulips flower a little later in Karuizawa, from April and May. The resort town has cool weather characteristic of such a plateau, and it’s here where the flowering season will arrive later than Tokyo and elsewhere.
Also, the roses are most beautiful from the middle of June to the start of July. Various events are planned for this year’s top rose season.
The weeping cherry trees on the lake shore are also an absolute must-see springtime sight.
If you’re in Japan, then definitely visit Karuizawa Lake Garden during the flowering season.
Karuizawa’s New Apple Farm Opens in Collaboration With Hoshino Resorts and Local Farmers
The Karuizawa-based hotel and hot spring complex Hoshino Onsen Tombo-no-yu joined hands with local apple farmers last year to help support apple cultivation for their apple hot springs. This is now being taken to the next level with the opening of Ringo Tsuchi, an apple farm that Tombo-no-yu staff helped to build. The farm opened on March 19, and locals will be able to visit part of the farm for free starting on April 26.
The project ties in with the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) initiative, specifically the 12th goal: “Responsible Consumption and Production,” which looks to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. Karuizawa is located in Nagano Prefecture which is ranked as the 2nd biggest producer of apples in Japan. When growing apples, those fruits which incur any kind of damage or grazing isn’t shipped to the country’s supermarkets or stores. It’s these not-so-perfect apples that Tombo-no-yu uses for its apple hot spring experience. Though it may just be a small step towards that goes, it still goes a small incremental way towards achieving it.
Free entry to Ringo Tsuchi
The main raw materials at Ringo Tsuchi (“Apple Earth”) are the apples used in the apple hot springs and fallen leaves from around the Hoshino area. In addition to compost and water, the materials are fermented, which adds the necessary nutrients to growing apples and creates soft and breathable soil. And since compost is added, it creates an environment where gardening tools can be used in the earth without any prior preparation.
The completion of Ringo Tsuchi
In the mid-October last year, work was carried out at Nomoto Kajuen Orchards in Mimakigahara Okubo, Nagano, to carefully select picked apples and not-so-perfect apples. These apples were used for the apple hot springs at Tombo-no-yu over a three day period from October 23 to 25. The apples are placed in both the male and female hot springs to float on the water.
After that three-day period, the apples were collected, washed, and cut to be used for compost. Since fermentation removes water content, the staff also had to add water twice a month to manage the compost.
Working with the locals
Katsuya Nomoto is a representative of Nomoto Kajuen Orchards, a farm that grows apples, prunes, and more. The farm takes advantage of the area’s high altitude and takes pride in its work to cultivate produce that is healthy to the body and environment using soil microbes as an organic fertiliser. It’s also officially recognised as a farm dedicated to supporting Nagano’s environment, and carries out school trips for children to visit, creating ties with the local community.
Official Website: http://www.hoshino-area.jp
Karuizawa Shiraito Falls Midwinter Light Up Arrives For 2020-2021
29.November.2020 | SPOT
Shiraito Highland Way has announced that this year’s Karuizawa Shiraito Falls Midwinter Light Up will run from December 19, 2020 to February 14, 2021.
The illumination event will take place at Karuizawa Shiraito Falls, a 3-meter tall waterfall that spans 70-meters in length. The lights will add a warmth to the cool evening and glow under a starry night sky.
The event creates a different atmosphere from the summer light-up, allowing visitors to enjoy the enveloping nature in a way that they normally can’t and see beauty they may not have noticed in the area before. The waterfall is located in Jōshin’etsu-kōgen National Park, a protected area which means the lights will be set up in a way that’s considerate to the park.
If you’re in Japan this winter then don’t miss out on this year’s Karuizawa Shiraito Falls Midwinter Light Up which will be split into three sessions: the Christmas Session, New Year Session, and St. Valentine Session. More details below.
Karuizawa Shiraito Falls Midwinter Light Up
Location: Karuizawa Shiraito Falls
Running: December 19, 2020 – February 14, 2021
・Christmas Session: December 19th-20th, 24th-27th (17:00-19:00)
・New Year Session: January 2nd-3rd, 8th-11th (17:00-19:00)
・St.Valentine Session: February 11th-14th (17:30-19:30)
*Please see the website for the latest information
*Entry restrictions may be made depending on the number of visitors
Official Website: https://karuizawa-shw.com/
The North Face and ANA Holiday Inn Resort Shinano-omachi Kuroyon to Co-Develop Mountain Resort
14.November.2020 | SPOT
The North Face is set to collaborate with ANA Holiday Inn Resort Shinano-omachi Kuroyon, which opened in Nagano’s city of Omachi in July, to develop a new mountain resort where guests can enjoy outdoor activities. The first part of the collaboration will see activities offered which have been made under the supervision of athletes contracted to The North Face. The activities will make full use of Omachi’s gorgeous natural environment which is surrounded by stunning mountains.
The North Face has had a high affiliation with this region for a long time. The brand created an original uniform for the staff that work along Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, a 37km mountain sightseeing route. It also opened the outdoor clothing and equipment shop The North Face Gravity in Hakuba.
ANA Holiday Inn Resort Shinano-omachi Kuroyon, too, embraces the outdoors of this region as it sits embedded within the lush natural landscape of Omachi. It hails as one of Japan’s best mountain resorts which offers guests the chance a sojourn amongst nature. One of the brand’s concepts is cultivating real human communication which it offers through its hospitable service, aiming to increase the number of smiles to those who visit.
The North Face x ANA Holiday Inn Resort Shinano-omachi Kuroyon
The collaboration will see the two companies coming together to serve up a plethora of outdoor activities throughout the year to encourage more families to spend time outside. The hotel will offer equipment that can be used for the activities, and there’ll also be workshops for people to create their own items that can also be used. They will also work to increase sustainability with local businesses and groups in Omachi in an effort to revitalise the local region.
The hotel is also offering a workation plan for guests to get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city to work somewhere more quiet and peaceful. The plan takes into account well-being and is a way for people to up their creativity and motivation. Guests can work and relax at the same time with Wi-Fi and electrical outlets available as well as off-work treats like the open-air baths, spa, gym, and more. The hotel will also offer other plans this winter which include snow biking, family skiing, and more.
The Best Place to Gaze On Japan’s Night Sky: Sky Paradise Sea of Clouds Harbor in Nagano
02.September.2020 | SPOT
This autumn, the Star Village Association in Achi, Nagano is hosting the special limited-time event “Sky Paradise Sea of Clouds Harbour” from October 25 to November 23 which offers one of the best views of Japan’s starry sky and the sea of clouds of the far-off southern alps.
The site is located at Ropeway Heavens Sonohara in Fujimidai Highland, surrounded by the bountiful nature of Nagano Prefecture. The 15-minute gondola ride is 2,500 meters long and takes you up to the observation deck 1,600m above sea level. Your prize is a view of the sea of clouds which stretches to the distant southern alps of Japan – truly is a sky paradise.
The other prize is the starry night sky. This spot placed first in the Ministry of the Environment’s list of the best places to see Japan’s night sky. From here, one can watch the sky of twinkling lights change to warm morning light. During October, the trees and verdure below are dyed in the colours of autumn, and when November rolls around you can spot the snow-capped peaks of the southern alps.
Sky Paradise Sea of Clouds Harbor (Japanese Name: 天空の楽園 雲海Harbor)
Running: October 25, 2020 – November 23, 2020
Gondola: Ascension 5:30-7:00 / Descent until 16:30
Observation Deck Lift Operating Times: 5:45-16:00
Location: Ropeway Heavens Sonohara in Fujimidai Highland
Address: 3731-4 Chisato, Achi, Shimoina-gun, Nagano
Price: Adults ¥3,600 / Children ¥1,800 / Infants – Free
Official Website: http://sva.jp
Ra Casta Natural Healing Garden: Heal Your Mind, Body and Soul in Nagano While Staying Safe From COVID-19
27.August.2020 | SPOT
Ra Casta Natural Healing Garden in Omachi, Nagano, is open for business throughout Japan’s Obon season and is taking mandatory bookings to ensure visitors’ protection from COVID-19 while following precautions against the Three Cs as laid out by the World Health Organization—crowded places, close-contact settings, and confined and enclosed spaces.
Ra Casta Natural Healing Garden is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a place that embraces beauty and healing while incorporating La CASTA’s brand concept of “the life force of plants and healing.” Guests are invited to use all five of their senses to relish the natural wonder of the garden, with its abundance of plants and trees and natural waterfall which flows from the northern alps.
The garden has its own “Healing Cafe” too which is an open-style cafe, allowing diners to enjoy the gift of nature throughout the seasons while enjoying a drink or dessert. A must-try during summer is their “Herb Cordial Lime & Lemongrass,” a refreshing herb soda that enjoy the sour citrus flavour of lime and the taste of lemongrass. There’s also the “Chamomile Milk” gelato ice cream.
The garden also has its own aromatherapy workshop inside the La CASTA Factory where visitors can make their own blends of oils using different products and scents.
What better way to de-stress during these turbulent times than getting close with nature in a safe, protected environment?
Ra Casta Natural Healing Garden
Address: 9729-2 Tokiwa, Omachi, Nagano
Opening Hours: 10:00-17:00 (Until 16:00 in October and November)
Official site: http://www.alpenrose.co.jp/garden
Kyukaruizawa Kikyo, Curio Collection by Hilton Ranks On Tripadvisor’s Best Hotels List
18.August.2020 | SPOT
Kyukaruizawa Kikyo, Curio Collection by Hilton, a hotel in Karuizawa, Nagano that is managed by Tokyu Resort Service Co., Ltd. made it onto Tripadvisor’s 2020 Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best and also ranked on the website’s Top 20 best hotels in Japan for high quality service.
Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best is Tripadvisor’s highest recognition, presented annually to the top 1% of businesses across select categories.
Kyukaruizawa Kikyo hails as Hilton’s first “Curio Collection by Hilton” in Japan. First open in 2018, the hotel’s name “Kiyko” is a reference to both the flower of the same name and the Japanese word kikyo which means “to return to one’s home” or “homecoming.” The hotel is active alongside the community in working towards the Sustainable Development Goals and is committed to the Hilton CleanStay initiative to ensure the cleanest possible stay for guests.
Hilton’s first Curio Collection hotel in Japan
Curio Collection by Hilton is an upscale hotel brand first established by Hilton in 2014. To date, the brand has around 70 establishments worldwide, supporting guests who are looking for unique and authentic hotel experiences.
Get away from the hustle and bustle of the city
Karuizawa is a popular resort area that’s easily accessible from Tokyo. It’s loved by some of the biggest names in the political, financial, and celebrity worlds. Guests can enjoy a free rides in a Mercedes-Benz from Karuizawa Station to the hotel.
Enjoy the sights while shopping and soaking up nature
The hotel is just a 5-minute walk from Old Karuizawa Ginza Street with shops offering all things Karuizawa. It’s also the perfect spot to enjoy walking and cycling while taking in the sights of nature.
Kyukaruizawa Kikyo, Curio Collection by Hilton
Address: Kyūkaruizawa-491-5 KaruizawaKitasaku-gun, Nagano
Access: 1 hour by Shinkansen from Tokyo Station
Official Website: https://www.kyukaruizawa-kikyo.com/
Experience a Crisp Japanese Autumn While Ice Skating in Karuizawa
15.August.2020 | SPOT
This autumn, Karuizawa Hoshino Area is opening up the Kera-Ike Skate Rink for a limited time from October 16 where visitors can skate around the ice while soaking up the reds and yellows of the surrounding forest.
Karuizawa Hoshino Area is a resort managed by Hoshino Resorts. The middle of October is when Karuizawa’s red maple trees blossom, while the beginning of November marks the incoming yellow karamatsu Japanese larches.
An ice skating rink enveloped in a forest
Kera-Ike Skate Rink is a frozen lake in the middle of a forest in Karuizawa. It’s located ride by Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary, so Hoshino Resorts had the idea to turn it into an ice rink so that people can enjoy the local wildlife while skating. For this year’s opening of the ice rink, Hoshino Resorts has a range of art content related to Japanese autumn for people to enjoy too.
Reds, Yellows, and White
Karuizawa sits 1,000 meters above sea level, and so the autumn leaves begin showing from the middle of October. This is when the urushi Japanese lacquer trees and momiji maples dye the forest a bright-red. Following shortly after are the karamatsu Japanese larches which add a bright yellow to the red hues. Visitors can soak up the kaleidoscope of colours while skating across the pure white ice rink.
Beautiful autumn leaf themed content
The ice skating chairs are a popular item at Kera-Ike Skate Rink and are a great way for beginners and children to enjoy being on the ice. This year, the chairs have been pained in the same colours at the autumnal leaves.
Autumn leaf decorations on the windows
The rink-side cafe has six giant glass windows spanning 2.5 meters across. Each window has its own unique autumn leaf design on it.
Autumn Leaf Latte
The cafe will serve the perfect autumn-time beverage, a latte topped with momiji and kaede maple leaves designs made from pumpkin powder—a fitting flavour for the season.
Kera-Ike Skate Rink
Running: October 16, 2020 – November 10, 2020
*Run period subject to change depending on the autumn leaves.
*The 2020-21 skate rink opening period runs until March 7, 2021. Closed November 26, 2020 and January 19-21, 2021.
Opening Hours: 10:00-16:00
Official Website: http://www.hoshino-area.jp/archives/area/skate
Take a Summer Trip to Karuizawa in Style at Hoshino Resorts BEB Karuizawa
12.July.2020 | SPOT
“BEB” is a brand of hotel established by Hoshino Resorts which aims to support young people travelling by being cost-effective as well as make travelling more fun for the younger generation. This year, BEB5 Karuizawa is promoting a spending a fun and stylish summertime.
Enjoy the outdoors in a wide, open space
The indoor “Yagura Room” is fitted with spacious sofas and bed spaces where people can chat together, read a book, and enjoy their free time. There’s also “TAMARIBA,” a 24-hour public space with a garden, lounge, cafe, and library. A cool breeze sweeps through the tall windows, letting in cool air on a hot summer’s day. Guests can kick back and enjoy some relaxation. The cafe even sells wine so guests can treat themselves to an evening drink or have a little drinking get-together with friends.
Summer resort rental items
Guests can experience the true thrill of summertime in Karuizawa with a selection of rental items including straw hats, a bug catching net, portable speakers, electric fans, and more. These can be rented from July 13, 2020 to August 31, 2020.
The lush green outdoors surrounds the hotel
BEB5 Karuizawa is located in one corner of the Karuizawa Hoshino Area which is home to a bright green forest. Located laong the bath is Harunire Terrace which is home to 16 unique shops, and there’s even a hot spring which flows directly from the water source.
Hoshino Onsen Tonbo no Yu
There are plenty of things for guests to do outside, including participating in a nature tour hosted by wild flora and fauna specialists Picchio, having a picnic at the benches by the flowing water, and more.
Karuizawa is one of Japan’s best places for a summer retreat. Just a one hour bullet train ride from Tokyo, it’s an easy place to access from the country’s capital.
Hoshino Resorts BEB5 Karuizawa
Address: Hoshino, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano
TEL: 0570-073-022 (Hoshino Resorts Booking Centre)
Rooms: 73 (Check In 15:00 / Check Out 11:00)
Price: From ¥9,000 per night (1 room for 2 people, service charge and meal charged separately)
Official Website: https://hoshinoresorts.com/ja/hotels/beb5karuizawa/
Tateshina Bamboo Grass Garden Opens 20,000m² Sasarikyu Garden For Free
11.June.2020 | SPOT
Tateshina Bamboo Grass Garden has is opening the Sasarikyu area of its gardens for free from June 5 to October 31 this year. The area spans almost 20,000m² and is home to an arbour and over 120 varieties of bamboo grass.
Opening the gardens in June means that visitors will get to see the bamboo grass at its most beautiful. Tateshina Bamboo Grass Garden wants more people to enjoy the gorgeous scenery, and so decided to make it a free experience for visitors.
It’s an opportunity to see the vivid green leaves of the bamboo free which, on a clear day, glistens brightly at the shine of the early summer sun. On a rainy day during the rainy season, it offers a completely different spectacle: the twinkle of the leaves as a result of the dew. In addition to the bamboo grass, rows of hydrangeas also blossom in the garden at the start of summer, and in autumn, the area takes on gorgeous red and yellow hues.
Another charm of Sasarikyu is the tea ceremony arbour that sits amongst the verdure. This arbour, which was designed by Japanese architect Kiyoshi Yasui, continues the tradition of sukiya style of building known as sukiya-zukuri which was first established in Kyoto.
The Tateshina Plateau sits enveloped by the Yatsugatake, a collection of towering inactive volcanoes. In this expanse lies Sasarikyu, a botanical garden of kuma bamboo grass with over 120 varieties from both Japan and overseas. It is the only bamboo grass garden of its kind in the world and aims to contribute to the region’s culture by drawing out the unknown when it comes to bamboo grass.
Bamboo grass area (13,200m²)
Sasarikyu is not just a botanical garden. It is also home to the world’s largest tsukubai basin called Zuigetsusen, as well as an azekura-zukuri style statue of the god of wealth, Hashiri Daigoku. It also has Jōmonka, a style of building from the middle of the Jōmon period in Japanese history which has bamboo grass-thatched roofs.
Sukiya Arbour Garden Area (6,600m²)
The sukiya arbour was designed by Kiyoshi Yasui who helped carry out major renovations to the Katsura Imperial Villa, as well as helped dismantle and reconstruct two national treasures of Japan: the Joan and Taian tea houses.
Another highlight of the gardens is an area where medicinal herbs area grown. The herbs there are ones mostly seen in Nagano Prefecture. It not only serves as an area with specimens of such herbs, but also offers gorgeous scenery too when the flowers bloom through the seasons.
Sasarikyu Free Opening
Running: June 5, 2020 – October 31, 2020 (Subject to change depending on season and weather)
Address: 1017-11400 Tamakawa Azaharayama, Chino, Nagano (Japanese Address: 場所：笹離宮 長野県茅野市玉川字原山11400番地1017)
Opening Hours: 10:00-17:00 (Last Entries 16:00)
①15 minutes by car from Suwa-minami Interchange
②30 minutes by car from Suwa Interchange
③20 minutes by car from Chino Station
Official Website: https://tateshina-sasa.com/sasarikyu/
Grapes For Wine Now Being Picked at Shiojiri Station’s Platforms
Shiojiri is a city in central Nagano with a population of 67,000 (as of April 2020). As a tourist destination, it’s a place that goes under the radar, but it’s actually home to the best quality grapes for wine in Japan, and also boasts 17 wineries (as of April 2020).
Shiojiri is a place with many tourist attractions, such as the historical town of Narai-juku whose streets still echo the Edo Period, Kiso-Hirasawa lacquerware, the Hiraide ruins which are one of Japan’s three biggest ruins, Takabotchiyama which has become known for appearing in anime and Japanese drama series in recent years, the local dish “sanzokuyaki” (large fried chicken), and more.
In 1988, the city of Shiojiri began growing grapes at Shiojiri Station to promote the city’s grapes and wine. It has gone on to become famous as the only station in Japan with grape production. They grow Merlot and Niagara grapes.
The station encourages volunteers to help pick the grapes. The first picks of this year’s season began on May 29, and the efforts are being posted about on the city’s official social media accounts and website. The Merlot wine made from the grapes picked in August last year is also ready and will be posted about soon too.
Platforms 3 & 4
Shiojiri Tourism Association Official Website: https://tokimeguri.jp/
Travel Virtually to Japan’s City of Komoro in Nagano to See Cherry Blossoms, Soak in the Onsen & More
02.April.2020 | SPOT
Komoro Tourism Bureau has developed the new “Komoro Tourism Channel” using Voicy, a news and media site which reports spoken information online. The channel focuses on the latest information with regards to tourism in Komoro, and focuses on the city’s many different hot springs.
Komoro is a city in Nagano Prefecture. Komoro Castle is home to Kaikoen Park, which was chosen as the 100 best cherry blossom spots in Japan. The city also boasts a wide variety of onsen (hot springs) which offer amazing views and numerous different bathing experiences. Komoro Tourism Channel covers all of this and more.
Komoro is about 2-hours by car via the Nerima Interchange on Kan-etsu Expressway. It’s also accessible from Tokyo via car. You can also reach it in around 24 minutes from Karuizawa Station via Shinano Railway.
Delivering the sounds of the relaxing onsen from Komoro
Komoro has eight water sources which provide water to its hot springs. The city sits 1,400 meters above sea level, from which each of its hot springs offer breathtaking views. The podcast on the hot springs, which is in Japanese, lets you feel like you’re experiencing them from your very own home. More podcasts on Komoro are planned to be released in the future, and QR codes will be implemented are various hotels and tourist facilities in Komoro which when scanned will offer voice guides to those places.
Komoro Tourism Channel: https://voicy.jp/channel/1074
The Komoro Tourism Bureau is coming up with measures to continue promoting the city during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. As well as Komoro Tourism Channel, it is also releasing information on its website, Twitter page, and elsewhere.
Kaikoen Park at Komoro Castle
Kaikoen Park at Komoro Castle is a tourist hot spot in Komoro. The castle itself was chosen as one of Japan’s 100 most famous castle sites. It is also famous for the castle itself being situated lower than the town around the castle. Kaikoen Park was selected as one of Japan’s 100 best cherry blossom spots, where around 500 trees bloom Yoshino cherries, shidare-zakura, higan-zakura, and more through April every year. The “Komoro-yae-beni-share” tree is an endemic species of cherry tree to Komoro and has a deep pink colour. The park also has towering stone walls and is home to the the front castle gate.
Komoro Castle Official Website (Japanese): https://www.komoro-tour.jp/castle/
Komoro Castle Official Website (English): https://www.komoro-tour.jp/lg_en/
Starbucks to Open New Branch Along Nakamise Street in Nagano Near Zenkoji Temple
20.March.2020 | FOOD
Starbucks Coffee Japan is set to open a new branch in Japan on March 26, 2020. It will open along Nakamise-dori, a street that leads to Nagano’s famous Zenkoji Temple.
It will open as the Kōshin’etsu region’s first Starbucks Regional Landmark Storeーa Starbucks branch unique to Japan that’s built as a symbol of that area which promotes that region’s culture to customers. They enable coffee-loving visitors to discover or rediscover the wonder of a region’s history, culture, craftsmanship, and industry, while building a connection with the region through those discoveries. The branches incorporate various local design elements into them.
The new branch, called Starbucks Coffee Shinshu Zenkoji Nakamise-dori, neighbours the Niou Gate of Zenkoji Temple. It’s a place where you can sit down with a delicious cup of coffee and relax while feeling the history of the place. The coffee shop’s design and decor also takes inspiration from local history and culture, their concept behind “Busy and Quiet, Light and Dark.” It’s situated a little away from the hustle and bustle of Nakamise-dori, and houses two spacious floors.
The sliding doors and skylight let in a soft light which also casts shadows in places, mimicking the beauty of shade found in a Japanese-style house. The ceiling and walls at the entrance are made from Japanese red pine, while the bar uses five different types of wood from Nagano Prefecture like hornbeam and katsura. The stone lanterns which were in the original building have been put at the entrance, and the great beams on the second floor have been left as they are. All of this preserves the feeling of the local region while small Starbucks touches are added here and there, resulting in a unique Starbucks experience.
Starbucks Coffee Shinshu Zenkoji Nakamise-dori
Grand Opening: March 26, 2020
Address: 483 Motoyoshicho, Nagano, Nagano Prefecture
Opening Hours: 7:00-21:00
No Fixed Holidays
Starbucks Japan Official Website: https://www.starbucks.co.jp/