Discover the Best of Karuizawa via Rental Bicycles
Karuizawa is situated in Nagano Prefecture, near the center of Japan. Interestingly, this area doesn't get as hot during summer relative to other areas, so people try to escape the summer heat by taking a trip here. Since it is very flat, yet filled with many interesting sights to see, many tourists end up exploring this holiday destination by bicycle, as it's easy to stop by any spot that catches their interest. Find out how you can do the same with this guide, which has everything you need to get the most out of your Karuizawa trip, from where to rent a bike to all the best routes to take!
May 01 2019 (Oct 01 2021)
Rental Bicycle Shops near Karuizawa Station
1. Ichimura Rinten
Ichimura Rinten is one of the few bicycle shops where you can make payments via credit card. The technicians who work here are always happy to help pick out the perfect bike for you from their vast selection. They even offer to hold onto any luggage you might be carrying while you enjoy your new ride!
2. Karuizawa RideTown.
Karuizawa RideTown. gained its popularity by offering stylish bikes of all types from 10 categories, ranging from sports bikes to kids' bikes. They even supply a map that highlights the cycle routes in the area, free of charge.
3. Shironeko Cycle
At 400 yen per day, renting a bicycle from Shironeko Cycle is extremely affordable. Conveniently located, this place is highly recommended for anyone who just wants to cycle!
1. Shin Karuizawa and Kyu Karuizawa Course
If taking a relaxing ride visiting all the tourist spots in the area sounds good, then this course is for you. It starts at ① Karuizawa Station, North Exit, and follows a trail of interesting sightseeing spots in the area, including historic buildings and souvenir stores.
The course takes around 3 hours and passes some beautiful forests at around the halfway point. If you're looking for shorter courses, consider the Kyu Karuizawa Ginza Walk and the Shin Karuizawa to Mikasa courses that are around 1 hour each on foot.
② Mampei Hotel
Mampei Hotel first opened for business back in 1764. Many tourists come to visit this historic hotel even if they don't stay here. Of course, there's no reason you can't stay here, too.
③ Happy Valley
Behind the Mampei Hotel sits Happy Valley. This beautiful cobblestone walkway with its mossy stone fence was nicknamed Happy Road by a missionary of a church nearby. To this day, it is still a very popular tourist spot for couples!
④ Shaw Memorial Church
The Shaw Memorial Church is the oldest church in Karuizawa. Opened in 1895 by a Canadian missionary, the chapel is nestled in amongst the trees. With its beautiful stained glass windows, it has become a popular tourist spot for all kinds of visitors. It is open during the day, all year round.
⑤ Kyu Karuizawa Ginza Shopping Street
Another popular tourist destination is Kyu Karuizawa Ginza Shopping Street. This is where you can find a lot of the famous stores in Karuizawa, ranging from restaurants to stores that deal in arts and crafts. Perfect for a small break from cycling and some souvenir shopping!
⑥ Kumoba Pond
Kumoba Pond is an artificial lake created in the early 1900s by damming a creek. The surrounding area has been perfectly maintained so that visitors can take a lap around the lake and enjoy the leaves, which are wonderfully green in the summer and fantastically red in the autumn.
2. Naka Karuizawa Course
① Nakakaruizawa Station is the starting point for this course, which includes multiple onsen (hot spring) facilities for you to rest at and wash up after the cycle! A large portion of this course is near bodies of water, which means that your ride will be filled with the soothing sounds of running water. There's even a great view of Mt. Asama along the way! It's 1 hour course, or 2 hours and 30 minutes if you plan to walk it.
② Uchimura Kanzo Memorial Stone Church
Shaped like a tunnel, Uchimura Kanzo Memorial Stone Church has such a strange design that it actually draws in many tourists to visit. At night, the lights inside reflect off the glass windows to give it an eerily fantastical atmosphere.
③ Karuizawa Kogen Church
People come to this church for their ceremonies that are enriched by live performances of instruments like the organ and harp! The candle night events that they hold throughout the year are also very popular.
④ Harunire Terrace
This is another great spot to stop and take a break. Visit one of the many cafes that they have here or do some shopping at the souvenir stores. Conceptualized as a little village, the whole facility is built on top of a wooden deck and makes for a beautiful, charming scene.
⑤ Hoshino Onsen Tombo no Yu
Tombo no Yu opened in 1914 and has since become one of the most famous onsen facilities in Karuizawa. Their facilities include an inner bath with natural hot spring water, an open-air bath, and a sauna. Day visit passes cost 1,300 yen for adults and 750 yen for kids (3 years old to elementary school age).
⑥ Tasaki Museum of Art
Opened in 1898, the Tasaki Museum of Art exhibits art from Japanese painters. They also display historical documents that provide context on what artworks were like before and after significant periods in Japanese history. Entry costs 900 yen for adults, 700 yen for high school students, and 400 yen for elementary and middle school students.
3. Shiozawa Lake and Minamikaruizawa Course
Streching out towards the south, this course is better suited to those who wish to enjoy nature. Starting from either the ① South Exit of Karuizawa Station or Nakakaruizawa Station, there are 2 variations to this course. One is a 30-minute route that runs around Shiozawa Lake, and the other takes a 2-hour route around the mountainous Minamikaruizawa area. There arn't many stores on these routes, so make sure to stock up on food and drinks before you set off. If you plan on walking, then the Shiozawa Lake route will take around 1 and a half hours, while the Minamikaruizawa route will take around 4 hours.
② Karuizawa Taliesin
Karuizawa Taliesin is a resort which combines both an art gallery and amusement park into one! They also have restaurants and souvenir shops on site, all of which is centered around Shiozawa Lake. Various plants and animals live in the surrounding wilderness, which is another sight to behold as it changes over the year.
The entry fee is 800 yen for adults and 400 yen for elementary to middle school students. Just be aware that some of the facilities, such as the art gallery, may incur a separate admission fee.
③ Forest of Muse
Forest of Muse is a museum park, which is something like a collection of museums in one place, all focusing on art and literature. One of these is called the "Erz Toy Museum" and they display a large collection of toys mainly from Germany. Admission fees for the Erz Toy Museum are 700 yen for adults, 450 yen for middle to high school students, and 350 yen for elementary students.
*Each museum has its own separate admission fees.
④ Kazakoshi Park
Kazakoshi Park can be described as a sports park, with facilities like a soccer field, a skating rink, and a pool. Interesting fact: its curling rink was used in the 1998 Winter Olympics! The entire park is mainly used by professional athletes and sport teams, but some of the facilities here, like the tennis courts and curling rink, are available for general visitors to use, too.
*Using the facilities requires booking in advance.
⑤ Karuizawa Lake Garden
Created in the image of a British garden, Karuizawa Lake Garden is a great place to enjoy roses and many other flowers. They also sell seeds of the roses bred here in the garden, among other things. Admission fees are 1,000 yen for adults and 500 yen for elementary and middle school students.
*Prices may vary depending on the season.
⑥ Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza
For those who are looking to do some shopping, Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza is a great place to visit. Inside, they have stores selling everything from food to clothes and other goods.
4. Oiwake Course
On the other hand, if you want to immerse yourself in the history of Karuizawa, then pick the Oiwake course. It starts from ① Shinano-Oiwake Station, which is located slightly west from the central area of Karuizawa, on the Shinano Line. This area was first established in the 1600s as a shukuba (a post station for travelers to rest), and it has many buildings that have been designated as cultural heritages by the city. The entire course is only 8 km long, so it's very suitable for beginners. People looking to walk this route will complete it in about 2 hours.
② Hori Tatsuo Memorial Museum of Literature
Hori Tatsuo Memorial Museum of Literature was originally the house of Tatsuo Hori, a Japanese writer back in the 1920s. Housed within the museum are original manuscripts for his novels along with exhibitions about his life. It is a very educational experience for anyone studying Japanese literature.
③ Sherlock Holmes Statue
Hidden in this part of town is a statue of Sherlock Holmes. It is said that in 1988, on the 100th anniversary of the Sherlock Holmes series, this statue was erected here as the Japanese translator for the series lived in the area.
④ Oiwake-juku Hometown Museum
This museum holds the history of Karuizawa's western district, starting from its days as a shukuba all the way to the present. Highly recommended for those who wish to learn more about the history of Karuizawa. The admission fee is 400 yen for adults and 200 yen for kids.
Did you find anything that interests you along these biking trails? There are plenty of other interesting places to see in Karuizawa, so don't hesitate to explore some more! For more ideas on where to go, check out:
If you want to give feedback on any of our articles, you have an idea that you'd really like to see come to life, or you just have a question on Japan, hit us up on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!
Cover photo (clockwise from top left): PIXTA
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.