Nature Walks Around Karuizawa

In Karuizawa if you look beyond the cultural and commercial activities and into the forest, you’ll be sure to find several trails and hiking options that will get you to imposing viewing points, within photographing distance of wild birds, and let you get a closer look at the natural environment that attracts many urbanites to relax in this part of Japan.

Nature Walks Around Karuizawa
Nature Walks Around Karuizawa

On the east side of the town, a few hundred metres past Kyu Karuizawa Ginza Dori, you’ll find the head of the Usui Pass Trail. The trail starts soon after passing by the Karuizawa Shaw Memorial Church, and from then on will lead hikers along parts of the old Nakasendo Trail and up to the Usui Pass Observation Point, one of the most scenic spots in the area. The hike is approximately 2.5 kilometers long and although it is steep at times it is not too challenging yet very rewarding with for its deep forest, the view of several mountain ranges, and of Mount Asama in the distance. Not far from the observation point, a stop by the Kumanokoutai Shrine, and a subsequent rest at one of the two tea houses is perfect for recovering your energy for the trip back down.

Nature Walks Around Karuizawa

On the opposite side of town, that is about 2 kilometers from Naka-karuizawa JR Station, another trail alternative for wildlife lovers is the Wild Bird Sanctuary (Yacho no Mori), where various bird species and even the famous but elusive flying squirrel can be viewed. The forest sanctuary can be accessed and explored freely at any time, making it a great option for taking in the natural beauty of Karuizawa.

Nature Walks Around Karuizawa
Nature Walks Around Karuizawa

Keep in mind though, that on your own you might end up hearing the birds from a distance without knowing exactly where to look for them. The flying squirrel is even harder to see so is definitely worth it to get assistance from the experts with a guided tour. These nature tours can be booked at the Picchio Centre and are held from September to May (bird watching) and from March to November (flying squirrel watching). A third option is the Nature Watching Tour which is offered daily and is less dependent on the seasonality of the wildlife.

Nature Walks Around Karuizawa

Besides these two trails, those looking to connect with the surrounding nature without getting too deep into the forest can also do so by simply exploring the back unpaved roads of the town both on the Kyu Karuizawa and the Naka-karuizawa areas. Walking away from Ginza Dori gives quick access to these back roads lined with towering trees, crossed by water streams, and at times visited by the some of the same birds from the sanctuary. These street are not secluded so you will find residential homes along the way. Still, a lot of these homes blend smoothly with their surroundings and give an interesting twist to the nature walk. On the Naka-karuizawa side, walking a couple of kilometres north of Hoshinoya Resort will also take you to similar roads that are perfect for early morning strolls.

Nature Walks Around Karuizawa
Facility Name
Karuizawa
Address
Nagano Pref. Kitasakugunkaruizawamachi Karuizawa ()
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Kyukaru Ginza (Kyu-Karuizawa Ginza Street)
Address
Nagano Pref. Kitasakugunkaruizawamachi Karuizawa
Phone
0267425538
Hours
Walking freely
Parking Lot
Available
Introduction
This is the main shopping district of Karuizawa located along the old Kyu Nakasendo. It has over 400 years of history, and the area boasts a row of long-established shops such as a bakery, boutiques of imported fashion, and various new and established shops. The area is bustling with many tourists in the summer months.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Shaw Memorial Chapel
Address
Nagano Pref. Kitasakugunkaruizawamachi Karuizawa 57-1
Phone
0267424740
Hours
Every week Sunday 10:00-
Closed
Irregular holidays
Fees
Free (can not enter during worship)
Parking Lot
open everyday (Please use the nearby Charge parking lot)
Introduction
The oldest church in Karuizawa, this was built by Canadian minister Alexander Croft Shaw, a missionary who is known as the “Father of Karuizawa” for helping to introduce Karuizawa as a summer retreat. The house of worship lies in a quiet place surrounded by a grove of trees, and is also popular as a place to hold weddings in Karuizawa. In the back is the Shaw House, his restored vacation house, and people can tour the facility free of charge. Take a bus from JR Karuizawa Station, alight from Kyu-Karuizawa and proceed on foot for approximately 10-15 minutes.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Kumano Kotai-jinja Shrine
Address
Nagano Pref. Kitasakugunkaruizawamachi Tougemachi 2
Phone
0267425749
Fees
Free
Parking Lot
Not available
Introduction
Located at the top of Usui Pass, at an elevation of 1200 meters, is an historical old shrine that is said to have built by Yamato Takerunomikoto who appears in the legend of the Kojiki · Nihon Shoki. The shrine was built on the border between Nagano Prefecture and Gunma Prefecture, and is unique, unparalleled nationally in that it is one shrine servicing two religious corporations.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN

PLACES IN THIS ARTICLE

  • dummy image

    Hoshinoya Karuizawa

    Accommodations/Onsen (Japanese hot springs)
    NaganoKitasaku-gun Karuizawamachi 星野
  • dummy image

    Karuizawa

    Transportation
    Nagano Pref. Kitasakugunkaruizawamachi Karuizawa ()
  • Shaw Memorial Chapel image

    Shaw Memorial Chapel

    Travel/Sightseeing
    Nagano Pref. Kitasakugunkaruizawamachi Karuizawa 57-1
  • Kyukaru Ginza (Kyu-Karuizawa Ginza Street) image

    Kyukaru Ginza (Kyu-Karuizawa Ginza Street)

    Travel/Sightseeing
    Nagano Pref. Kitasakugunkaruizawamachi Karuizawa
  • Kumano Kotai-jinja Shrine image

    Kumano Kotai-jinja Shrine

    Travel/Sightseeing
    Nagano Pref. Kitasakugunkaruizawamachi Tougemachi 2
  • Usui Third Bridge (Meganebashi) image

    Usui Third Bridge (Meganebashi)

    Travel/Sightseeing
    Gunma Pref. Annakashi Matsuidamachisakamoto In the ground
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