Karuizawa’s Four Seasons
Karuizawa, blessed with beautiful nature and spread out on a plateau at an altitude of 1,000 meters, has developed as an international health resort and one of the leading resort areas in Japan since the first villa was built in 1888. Mount Asama and other mountains, lakes, marshes, waterfalls, and other natural features, the tranquil setting of the villa, and the surrounding idyllic mountain villages, all of which were beloved by the writers and painters who settled in Karuizawa, are still alive and well today. The scenery changes from season to season, fascinating us all.
Spring in Karuizawa
＜Left: Unba Pond / Right: Nirinso
Spring comes slowly in Karuizawa because of its high altitude and cool summers. Wildflowers finally begin to bloom in the sun around Golden Week, more than a month later than in Tokyo and other urban areas. In the village, the buds of the trees are beginning to open, and the blossoms of the kobushi, Karuizawa’s tree, are dotted with pure white flowers, heralding the arrival of spring. The weather is warm on a sunny day, and there are still few summer vacationers or tourists, so you can enjoy a quiet walk. However, there is still snow on the trails up the mountain, so they are suitable for people who are used to mountain climbing.
After the middle of May, the buds of the trees begin to sprout, and fresh new greenery spreads throughout the month of June. The abundance of flowers, combined with the view of Mt. Asama covered with lingering snow, makes Karuizawa the most beautiful time of the year, according to Karuizawa residents. Because the season falls between Golden Week and summer vacation, there are surprisingly few tourists, making it a good time to visit Karuizawa.
By the time the fresh green leaves are in full bloom in the village, the buds have begun to sprout on the mountain, and the remaining snow has disappeared, making it a good season for hiking. From late April to late June, Karuizawa Wakaba Matsuri (festival of young leaves in Karuizawa) is held every year, with hiking events and other activities, so it is a good idea to check before making travel plans.
Summer in Karuizawa
＜Left: Birch forest with a highland atmosphere / Right: Shiraito Falls surrounded by a cool and refreshing atmosphere
July is the season for summer getaways to avoid the heat and enjoy Karuizawa’s cool and refreshing summer climate. In late July, the rainy season is over and elementary and junior high schools are closed for summer vacation. This is also a good time to visit museums, archives, stores, etc. that are only open during this time of year.
Summer is also the season of festivals, starting with the Shinano Oiwake Magouta Road Festival in late July, followed by festivals and fireworks displays held throughout the town.
In July and August, the weather is mild and the days are long, so beginners can enjoy hiking and climbing with more ease. Nature walks are also the busiest time of the year, but there are far fewer crowds than in the city center, making it a good choice for those who prefer a quieter walk. Even during the daytime, when the weather in the city can get a bit sweaty, hiking at high elevations on the mountains or alongside clear streams is a great way to enjoy a refreshing day out. You can spend a refreshing day. However, even if the daytime temperatures are high, the mornings and evenings are often chilly, so it is advisable to bring a long-sleeved shirt, especially if you are hiking in the mountains.
Autumn in Karuizawa
＜Left: Magnificent Mt. Asama can be seen from the Karuizawa Minami area where the countryside spreads out.
In September, the town of Karuizawa is less crowded and the town begins to settle down. On the mountain tops, trees begin to change color in mid-September and usually reach their peak around mid-October. The beauty of the autumn leaves on the mountainside is like a luxurious fabric, with evergreen trees such as firs dotting the colorful foliage of maple trees and other trees turning crimson and hippopotamuses turning yellow. The larch forests that spread along the mountainsides and around the city center turn yellow a little later, around the end of October. The clear autumn skies around the time of the fall foliage often make it possible to see far into the distance, which is another unique feature of this season.
The autumn leaves that have come down from the mountains are at their peak in the village in late October, and although they are no longer at their peak in November, the yellow leaves of the larch trees can still be seen. From late September to early November, the Karuizawa Autumn Foliage Festival is held in the village, where visitors can participate in hiking and viewing events similar to those held in the spring.
Winter in Karuizawa
＜Left: Kumoba Pond, lively in summer, is quietly quiet / Right: St. Paul’s Church in Old Karuizawa
By mid-November, when autumn is in full swing in the city, the leaves have completely fallen from the trees and the snow caps of Mt. Around the end of November in a normal year, the first snow flakes fall in the village. Around the same time, the Karuizawa Winter Festival begins, and illumination and winter sports events are held one after another until mid-February.
In the New Year, when the snow in the village is reduced to deep-rooted snow, buildings and trees are covered with snow and fogged ice, giving the area a look not seen in any other season. The weather is relatively stable, and viewing the silver peaks of Mt. Asama and bird-watching at Kumoba Pond and the Wild Bird Forest are enjoyable in winter. Mountain trails are not suitable for the general public as they are in winter, but walking in the suburbs may also be possible on snow-covered paths. Even in urban areas where the snow has been removed, it can be slippery due to icy conditions, so please inquire in advance about the conditions or take all possible measures to prepare for snow-covered roads.