Know Karuizawa

About Karuizawa

Karuizawa’s Climate and Tourism Industry

Suitable site for tennis court and golf course

Because of its climate and location, Karuizawa has developed as a summer resort for both domestic and foreign visitors, but it is also famous as the birthplace of sports culture, including tennis, golf, and skating.

Tennis was introduced to Japan in Yokohama in 1878, but in Karuizawa, a tennis court surrounded by silkworm cages was built in front of the garden of a villa behind the Tsuruya Ryokan in old Karuizawa around 1894. This was the beginning of tennis in Karuizawa.
Since then, the number of tennis courts has steadily increased, and private tennis courts have been set up in large villa areas.
At its peak in 1977 (1977), there were once nearly 500 courts, not including those owned by villa owners.
In 2009, there are 24 tennis courts in Karuizawa.

Also known as the Old Golf Course (now the Old Karuizawa Golf Club) was built in 1919 by inviting a golf course designer from England.
It used to be a 9-hole golf course on a 60,000 tsubo canvas, but now has 12 holes. The former golf course is the second oldest golf course in the Kanto Koshin area, after the Sengokuhara Golf Course in Hakone.
Later, in 1930, an 18-hole golf course was built on an area of 360,000 tsubo (about 1.5 acres), which was called the “new golf course” (present-day Shin-Karuizawa Golf Club), the largest in the East at that time, and it was very busy. After the war, the golf course was built in Jizokehara (Minamikaruizawa). The reason for this was that Jizokehara had many wetlands, and there was no development of villages or arable land for grazing. In 1955, the Minami-Karuizawa Golf Course was established, followed by the Haruyama Hotel Golf Course (18 holes) in 1956, and in 1972, a 72-hole golf course (currently the Karuizawa 72 Golf Course) was completed on 1.4 million tsubo (462 ha) of land. In 1972, a 72-hole golf course (the current Karuizawa 72 Golf) was completed on 1.4 million tsubo (462 hectares) of land.
The reason why there are so many golf course users in Karuizawa is because the highland climate is cool and pleasant to play in, even in summer.
There was also an airfield in Minami-Karuizawa, but it was converted to a golf course site after the war because no aircraft were regularly operating there.
The topography and geology of the Karuizawa Plateau is covered with volcanic gravel and ash from Mt. Therefore, even if a considerable amount of precipitation falls, it will percolate underground. Therefore, when the rain stops, tennis and other sports can be played immediately.
Volcanic ash is also said to be resilient, which is why it is said to produce good records in athletics and other sports.

Skating and ice making industry

In Karuizawa, where winters are bitterly cold, skiing (describing snowboats) did not develop well due to the lack of snowfall. However, “ice making” has flourished since the end of the Meiji era (1868-1912).
In 1907, young volunteers from Shin-Karuizawa leased a 4,000 tsubo (8,000 m2) plot of land from the forestry office and built the Karuizawa Skating Rink. In the summer of 1909, a blacksmith in Niikaruizawa manufactured geta skates, and children enjoyed skating on them. In the same year, figure skating was opened to the public at the pond in the residence of Keijiro Amamiya.
In modern Karuizawa, there are two skating rinks, “Kazakoshi Park Skating Rink” and “Karuizawa Kazakoshi Park Ice Arena”.
Modern “skating” with leather skates was called “ice skating technique” by the Japanese, and had become a sport for the upper class.
Karuizawa’s skating rink is widely known internationally, as the Nagano Winter Olympics were held in Karuizawa in 1998.

A related local industry that took advantage of Karuizawa’s extremely cold climate was the production of natural ice. In the Taisho era (1912-1926), there were many ice makers, and natural ice production flourished until the widespread use of electric power for ice production.
The production of natural ice in Karuizawa flourished because natural ice was stored in ice chambers (himuro) for use in the refrigerators of foreign villas, and ice cut to the size of each villa’s refrigerator was delivered regularly.
A pond and an ice house used for making ice still remain on the outskirts of the old town of Karuizawa. This icehouse was the setting for Tatsuo Hori’s “Beautiful Village.

Old Karuizawa Shopping Street

The three inns of Karuizawa, Kutsugake, and Oiwake on the Nakasendo route in the town of Karuizawa were called the “three inns of Asamanegoshi” and were crowded with travelers in the Edo period. Karuizawa was the most prosperous of the three, as it was located at the foot of the old Usui Pass (in ancient times, the pass was called Saka, meaning “hill”).
Later, however, the development of railroad transportation led to the decline of the Asama Sanshuku and other lodging station traffic.
However, the construction of summer resort villas by foreigners and Japanese began in the Meiji 20s, and as a result, the old Karuizawa became a shopping district catering to summer vacationers, and is still nicknamed “old Karu” and “old road” to this day.
In the shopping streets of Old Karuizawa, most of the Edo period inn landscape has been lost, except for the street trees. Only a few buildings have been restored, such as the Tsuruya Ryokan, which has been remodeled into a traditional inn. Also, a signboard written by Nakamura Furi, a painter and calligrapher from Takato Town, was displayed at the Fujiya Confectionary Shop. Many of the buildings in the shopping district of Kyu-Karuizawa are a blend of Japanese and Western styles. Many stores from Tokyo, Yokohama, and other cities are also open during the summer.
In summer, Old Karuizawa is crowded with visitors, so villagers avoid the busy daytime and go shopping in the evening. In the center of the old Karuizawa shopping street was the Karuizawa Post Office built in 1911, but the building was moved to the Karuizawa Thaliassen by Lake Shiozawa, and the Karuizawa Tourism Hall was built on the site in 1995 to replicate its appearance.
Karuizawa carving is one of Karuizawa’s specialties. Production began in 1908, and this style of furniture was designed for summer vacationers. Karuizawa carvings, which feature cherry blossoms and trees as their main design, are popular among foreign visitors. The tables and chairs of the former Mikasa Hotel, designated as a national important cultural property, are all made of Karuizawa carving. Karuizawa carving stores and workshops also characterize the old Karuizawa townscape. This Karuizawa carving is made by introducing the Nikko carving technique.
The streets of old Karuizawa have many detached buildings, but only the tenement store called “Kondo Nagaya” (destroyed) is unique. The owner of this branch store was Kondo Tomoemon, a wealthy merchant from Nagoya, who ran the tenement and leased the store to a branch store. This is a unique example of this type of lease.

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