How to Get to Karuizawa
Located approximately 170KM to the north-west of Tokyo, Karuizawa is a small mountain resort town popular with Tokyoites and international visitors alike. Known for its cool mountain climate, visiting Karuizawa offers welcome relief from the heat and humidity of summer while in autumn, the area boasts some of Japan’s most spectacular coloured-leaves. On this page you will find the following information:
As a stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line, running from Tokyo to Kanazawa, Karuizawa Station is readily accessible from the capital, nearby Nagano, Toyama and Kanazawa. Not just one of Japan’s best known resort towns, it is also one of the oldest.
Boasting a long history as a alpine retreat, Japanese have been heading to Kauizawa for years to enjoy its cool climate and more recently, one of Japan’s largest outlet shopping centres, fine dining, galleries and museums. Sitting on the boundary of Joshinetsu Kogen Natioanl Park, Karuizawa is an ideal launching point to head deeper into the mountains and far away from the hustle and hum of city life.
Starting with the Karuizawa Wild Bird Sanctuary and nearby Mount Asama and Onioshidahi Volcanic Park, renting a car while in Karuziawa and exploring the park is a great way to enjoy the open spaces and beauty of Japan’s fourth largest national park. For more information, see ’25 Things to Do Around Karuizawa & Where to Stay’ below. Now let’s start with the obvious question:
WHERE IS KARUIZAWA
Karuizawa is located around 70KM / 1.5 to 2-hours to the south-east of Nagano and 170KM / 2.5-hours drive to the north-west of Tokyo. As a stop on the Hokuriku Shinkansen line, Karuizawa Station is most easily reached using the train from Nagano or Tokyo – taking around 30-minutes and 65 to 75-minutes respectively, from those staring points. Karuizawa sits around 1000 metres above sea level, blessing it with a cool alpine climate and welcome escape from the heat and humidity of summer. As such, Karuizawa is one of Japan’s most popular resort towns with many Tokyoites heading there for holidays or day-trips from the capital. The town boasts some excellent hotels and guesthouses, restaurants and cafes, shopping, museums and galleries and sits within easy reach of Joshinetsu Kogen National Park and one of Japan’s most famous hot spring towns, Kusatsu Onsen.
HOW TO GET TO KARUIZAWA
In this section you will find information on how to reach Karuizawa from the following starting points:
NAGANO – JIGOKUDANI MONKEY PARK – KUSATSU ONSEN – TOKYO – NARITA AIRPORT – HANEDA AIRPORT – KANAZAWA & TOYAMA – TATEYAMA-KUROBE ALPINE ROUTE – TAKAYAMA – SHIRAKAWA-GO & GOKAYAMA – KAMIKOCHI – MATSUMOTO – NAGOYA – KYOTO & OSAKA
We endeavour to keep this information as up-to-date as possible and in recognition that most international visitors will be using the train network to move around Japan, most directions are for using the trains. If there is alternative option i.e. express or local bus, that is notably faster or economical, we also include that information.
Both Nagano Station and Karuizawa Station are stops on the Hokuriku Shinkansen Line, meaning that getting from one to the other is quick and easy – taking only 30 min / JPY3210. The line also includes stops at:
For daily trains schedules, see our ‘Hokuriku Shinkansen Timetable’ page.
FROM THE JIGOKUDANI MONKEY PARK
To reach Karuizawa from the Jigokudani Monkey Park is easily done via Nagano Station. From the park, you have the option of: 1. a direct express bus from the park to Nagano Station or 2. a local bus to Yudanaka Station followed by an express train to Nagano Station.
Starting from the park, the express bus costs JPY1500 each way and takes 55 minutes to reach Nagano Station. In comparison, taking the local bus from the park to Yudanaka Station followed by the train, takes 15 minutes and costs JPY310 before the limited express train to Nagano takes 45 minutes and costs JPY1290 – a total journey of around 60 to 70 minutes and costing JPY1600. Once at Nagano Station, follow the directions above.
FROM KUSATSU ONSEN
Karuizawa is the nearest major train station to Kusatsu Onsen. Regular bus services running from Karuizawa Station – 80 min / JPY2240 run to and from Kusatsu. For details including the timetable, see our ‘Karuizawa Station’ page.
Chances are that most international visitors will come through Tokyo at some point during their time in Japan and s the southern terminus of the Hokuriku Shinkansen line, getting from Tokyo Station to Karuizawa is easy. Depending on which service you choose, it takes 65 to 80 min / JPY5490.
FROM NARITA AIRPORT
Karuizawa can be reached in a two-stage journey from Narita via Tokyo Station. Two rapid train services connect Narita Airport to central Tokyo via Tokyo Station and Ueno Station. Both stations are stops on the Hokuriku Shinkansen service bound for Karuizawa.
1 / the Narita Express (NEX)runs from Narita to Tokyo Station. It takes 55 minutes to reach Tokyo Station (depending on the service) and costs JPY3070 with trains departing every 30 to 60 minutes. Once at Tokyo Station, follow the directions above onto Karuizawa.
2 / the Keisei Skyliner runs from Narita to Ueno Station. It takes between 40 to 55 minutes to reach Ueno Station and costs JPY2520 with trains departing every 30 to 40 minutes. Once at Ueno Station, transfer to the Hokuriku Shinkansen bound for Karuizawa.
FROM HANEDA AIRPORT
Karuizawa can be reached in a two-stage journey from Haneda via Tokyo Station. Two train services connect Haneda Airport to central Tokyo via Tokyo Station, at which you can board the Hokuriku Shinkansen bound for Karuizawa.
1 / the Tokyo Monorail connects the airport to Tokyo Station via Hamamatsucho Station in around 30 minutes. From the airport take the monorail to Hamamatsucho Station (20 min/JPY170) and then switch to the JR Yamanote Line or JR Keihin-Tohoku/Negishi Line Rapid bound for Tokyo Station (5 min/JPY160) – a total journey of around 30-minutes / JPY660 one-way. Once at Tokyo Station, follow the directions above.
2 / the Keikyu Railway connects the airport to Tokyo Station via Shinagawa Station. Take the Keikyu Airport bound to Shinagawa Station (approx.11 min/JPY300) and transfer to the Yamanote Line bound for Osaki to reach Tokyo Station- 13 min / JPY170 or a total journey of around 30 min / JPY470. Once at Tokyo Station, follow the directions above.
FROM KANAZAWA & TOYAMA
As northern stops on the Hokuriku Shinkansen, it’s easy to get to Karuizawa from both Kanazawa Station and Toyama Station. From Kanazawa takes 120 min / JPY11,120 and from Toyama takes 95 min / JPY9370.
FROM THE TATEYAMA-KUROBE ALPINE ROUTE
The Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route has two points of access: from the Nagano-side and from the Toyama-side. To reach Karuizawa, it will be easiest to come down the Nagano-side to Ogizawa Staion and then take a bus to Nagano Station – approximately 100 minutes. Once at Nagano Station, simply follow the directions above to reach Karuizawa. Alternatively, should you come down the Toyama-side to Tateyama Station, simply take the Toyama Chiho Railway to Shin-Kurobe Station. Once at Shin-Kurobe, walk through to Kurobe-Unazukionsen Station and board the Hokuriku Shinkansen bound Karuizawa.
For visitors heading to Karuizawa from the historic town of Takayama. the journey takes time but is simple. Take the Limited Express Hida on the Takayama Main Line from Takayama Station to Toyama. Taking approximately 90 minutes and costing JPY2890, there are only two or three convenient services each day and the line is popular with tourists, so if you have the chance to book ahead it can be helpful. Once at Toyama, follow the directions above to reach Karuizawa.
FROM SHIRAKAWA-GO & GOKAYAMA
The World Heritage-listed villages of Shirakawa-go and Gokayama rank among the most popular destinations in Central Japan. Travelling from the villages to Karuizawa takes time but is relatively easy. The Nohi Bus company also operates several daily services from Shirakawa-go to Toyama Station. It takes approximately 60 minutes and adults should expect to pay around JPY1730 one-way. See the following page for information including timetables and fares to and from Toyama. Alternatively, take the bus on from Shirakawa-go to Takayama and from there, take the Limited Express Hida service to Toyama – as described above. Once at Toyama, follow the directions above to reach Karuizawa.
Karuizawa can be reached from Kamikochi via Takayama Station, with frequent services running to and from the Takayama Nohi Bus Center – located next to Takayama Station. From the Kamikochi Bus Terminal, take the bus to the Hirayu Onsen Bus Terminal – 25 to 30 minutes – and then switch to the bus headed to Takyama – another 60 minutes. See the following page for information including timetables and fares to and from Takayama. Once at Takayama Station, transfer to the Limited Express Hida service bound for Toyama Station and onto Karuizawa – as described above.
Alternatively, you can also take the bus from the Kamikochi Bus Terminal to Shin-shimashima Station, and then transfer to the Kamikochi train line abound for Matsumoto Station. Once in Matsumoto, follow the directions below.
From Matsumoto Station, it’s a two-step journey to Karuizawa via Nagano Station. Take the Limited Express Shinano – 50 min / JPY2370 – to Nagano Station and switch to the Hokuriku Shinkansen bound for Tokyo via Karuizawa (as described above).
As the largest city in Central Japan, Nagoya is a convenient transport hub from where it’s easy to reach Karuizawa. There are different options for getting to Karuizawa from Nagoya with the simplest being a two-step journey via Tokyo Station. From Nagoya Station, take the Tokaido Shinkansen – 100 min / JPY10,560 – and then switch to the Hokuriku Shinkansen – 65 to 80 min / JPY5490 – to Karuizawa (as described above). Alternatively, you can take the Limited Express Shinano from Nagoya to Nagano – 180 min / JPY6930 – and switch to the Hokuriku Shinkansen bound for Karuizawa – another 30 min / JPY3210.
FROM KYOTO & OSAKA
Likewise, from Kyoto and Osaka take the Tokaido Shinkansen to Tokyo Station and switch to the Hokuriku Shinkansen to reach Karuizawa. From Shin-Osaka Station it takes 145 to 175 min (depending on which service you choose) / JPY13,870 – and from Kyoto Station it takes 135 to 160 min (depending on the service) / JPY13,320. Once at Tokyo, follow the directions above to reach Karuizawa.
25 THINGS TO DO AROUND KARUIZAWA & WHERE TO STAY
Karuizawa is one of Japan’s most famous resort towns offering lots of reasons to visit. Within easy reach of Tokyo, both Japanese and international visitors flock to Karuizawa to enjoy its cool alpine climate, shopping, restaurants, museum, galleries and array of great accommodation. Sitting on the boundary of the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park, visitors headed to Karuizawa can also enjoy nearby destinations including Mount Asama, Mount Kusatsu-Shirane and multiple hot spring towns including Kusatsu Onsen. For lots of great tips and suggestions of what to do and where to stay, see our ’25 Things To Do Around Karuizawa & Where To Stay’ page.
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