Know Karuizawa

About Karuizawa

Karuizawa Highlands Climate

Feel the cool and clean climate.

Karuizawa Plateau is located at the southern foot of Mt. Asama, on a gentle slope at an elevation of 950 to 1,200 meters.
The plateau has a cool summer climate, high and arid land with good drainage, and rich forested areas, all of which are suitable for summer retreats.
Alexander Croft Shaw, the missionary who discovered and popularized Karuizawa as a summer resort, praised Karuizawa’s climate, calling it a “hospital without roof” – a natural sanatorium. He praised the climate of Karuizawa, calling it a “hospital without roof” and a natural sanatorium.

Particularly noteworthy is the high altitude climate, which is cool even in mid-summer.
In Tokyo, “summer days” last for 106 days, with daytime highs of 25°C or higher, but Karuizawa has a high-cool climate that is cool even in mid-summer.
The average temperature in Karuizawa in August is 20.5°C, 5.5°C lower than in Tokyo. This is about the same temperature as Tokyo in late May or early June. In addition, dense fog occurs for 23 days in July and for 20 days in August. Because of this “foggy climate,” the temperature feels cooler to the touch.
These are the reasons why Karuizawa’s nature is suitable as a summer resort.

In addition, Karuizawa has many trees such as fir, mizunara, konara, linden, and kobushi growing wild as natural forests, making its cool climate feel even fresher.
Because Karuizawa has little snowfall, beech trees do not grow wild because the soil freezes over.
The most conspicuous tree in Karuizawa’s natural forests is the kobushi, which has been designated as a town tree. 20,000 kobushi trees bloom in late April, and their gorgeous blossoms are dotted among the other trees. Scattered among the other trees, the blossoms herald the arrival of spring on the Karuizawa plateau.
The streets are planted with larch, katsura, horse chestnut, and fir trees. Many of the villas in Kyu-Karuizawa were built between the late Meiji and Taisho periods. These villa sites are surrounded by wide trees, and the buildings are hidden in the greenery.

The topography and stratigraphy of the Karuizawa Plateau is a gentle slope at the southern foot of Mount Asama, covered with erupted volcanic gravel and volcanic ash soil, and with a thick layer of pumice underground. Even if there is a considerable amount of precipitation, it percolates underground, and the air feels refreshing.
This has the advantage that when the rain stops, tennis, golf, and other sports facilities can be used immediately.

And Karuizawa offers a magnificent view of Mt. Asama.
Mount Asama, the symbol of Karuizawa, is a large active volcano with a volcanic base that stretches 20 km from east to west and 33 km from north to south.
At its southern foot are the municipalities of Karuizawa, Miyota, Komoro, and Saku. At the northern foot of the mountain are the towns of Naganohara and Tsumagoi in Agatsuma-gun, Gunma Prefecture. Naganohara-cho is called Kita-Karuizawa. Miyota-machi is called Nishikaruizawa, but these areas are not included in the administrative district of Karuizawa. The Kutsumigake area where the Karuizawa Town Hall is located is called Nakakaruizawa, the area near Karuizawa Station is called Shin-Karuizawa, and the area around the Karuizawa 72 golf course is called Minamikaruizawa. The old Karuizawa Inn and the surrounding villa area have been called Kyu-Karuizawa or the old road since the Meiji era.

First “Plateau Region Name” in Japan

In fact, Karuizawa is also the first “highland” in Japan.
The term “plateau” is found in the oldest manuscripts of Toson Shimazaki’s sketches.
In April 1899 (Meiji 32), Shimazaki Toson was assigned to Komoro as a teacher at the Komoro Gijuku. The following year, 1900, he began writing “Sketches on the Chikumagawa River. In the chapter “On the Plateau” at the beginning of “Sketches on the Chikumagawa River,” he wrote about the horse market in Nobeyama Plain, where about 300 horses and 4,000 people gathered. Toson also led students on a school excursion to Komoro Gijuku. In “Chikumagawa no Sketch,” he uses the term “plateau” for the first time.
This term “plateau” did not exist in Edo period Japan.

Karuizawa Plateau was not used as a unique regional name until the 1907’s, at the beginning of the 20th century.
A photo postcard issued at the end of the Meiji period (1868-1912) shows the name “karuizawa plateau” (Karuizawa plateau) written in English.
Karuizawa was the first to adopt the endemic region name Karuizawa Plateau.

Incidentally, the name “Shiga Kogen” was first used in 1918. The name Shiga Kogen was used in a petition submitted by the chairman of the Shimotakai County Association to the governor of Nagano Prefecture.
Next in line is Suwa’s Tateshina Kogen, which has been in use since the early Showa period. However, it was not until the 1950s, after World War II, that many of the highlands in Nagano Prefecture, including Nobeyama Kogen, began to use the name “Kogen.

~[Column] “Highlands” in Karuizawa written by Yasunari Kawabata
The residences of the Marquis Hosokawa and the Duke Maeda, depicted in Kawabata Yasunari’s novel “Highland,” are typical of Karuizawa’s villas.
Highlands” is a short novel written in 1939 in Karuizawa, at the height of the Sino-Japanese War.
In the book, a young man and woman visit the residence of the Marquis Hosokawa at the recommendation of their older sister, and describe the beauty of the rows of firs, ochiba pine trees, and Japanese laurels.
The trees Kawabata wrote about as elms were in fact Katsura trees. Kawabata said that he felt there was a nice contrast between the gentle, feminine appearance of the katsura trees planted around 1918, the masculine, strong, heavenward pointing fir trees, and the slender, frankly growing ochiba pine trees in between, although he may not have combined the two. Kawabata said it was also good that there were no other trees mixed in the area.
These tree-lined avenues were more than a meter wide and served as riding trails for the Hosokawa family. Despite the 80 years that have passed since “Plateau” was written, when one visits the former Hosokawa and Maeda residences today, the trees have grown, but the mixture and form of the trees can still be seen as they were then. As Kawabata says, “The order in which the trees were planted has been preserved.
Although the Hosokawa Residence is now owned by an automobile manufacturer and the Maeda Residence by a chemical fiber company, the gardens and buildings, with some exceptions, have been preserved as they were when they were built.

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