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Activities

Kirigamine
Kirigamine Plateau is well known for foggy weather. The difference of elevation between Lake Suwa and Kirigamine is 1,000 meters, and the temperature difference is six degrees. When a southern wind near Lake Suwa suddenly blows up toward Kirigamine, it cools very quickly, producing fog. Scenes created by dense fog and light fog are quite fantastic, but on clear days a sweeping view of the Japan Alps which can be seen from 1,600-1,800m hills is also breathtaking.

The plateau has a gentle slope and is covered by flowers in summer. Trekking is enjoyable while seeing pretty ponds and almost 300 kinds of alpine plants, from well-organized boardwalks and trails. You can go up to the top of Mount Kuruma-yama by lift Sky Liner. Grasses on the moors turn to autumn colors at the end of September, and a bit later leaves of trees begin to turn red.

Barakura English Garden
The first authentic English garden in Japan with a theme "a rosy life." Rose Flower Show is held in June, in addition to Dahlia Week in September, The Harvest Festival in October and Christmas Week Bazzar. Pre-sale tickets available.
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Takato Castle Site
A castle town with a 700 year history, Takato's Castle Remains Park features lots of natural beauty: cherry blossoms in the spring, pretty fresh green leaves in early summer, and the fall colors of more than 250 maple trees. There are onsens nearby and lots of activities to enjoy. The Castle Park's cherry blossoms are a unique variety and are known throughout Japan. More than 400,000 people come to see the over 1500 trees, some over 130 years old. The distinctive reddish tinted small petals are considered as one of the best cherry blossoms in the whole country. The park also has enchanting views of the Japanese Alps.
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Matsumoto Castle
Matsumoto's namesake castle is the oldest existing castle in Japan and is recognized as a National Treasure. The contrasting black and white plaster of the exterior stands out boldly against the magnificent backdrop of the Japanese Alps. Built with many unique architectural elements, Matsumoto Castle also features a moon viewing pavilion, indicative of the lifestyle of the feudal lords. The grounds of the castle come alive in color in the spring with cherry blossoms.
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Kamikochi
Kamikochi is the crown jewel of the Japanese Alps. The scenic area is a basin at 1500 meters elevation. The Alps rise an additional 1500 meters from there, creating a stunningly magnificent background with the beautiful aquamarine Azusa River in the foreground. This is a very popular place for mountain trekking, and the traditional starting point is Kamikochi’s symbolic bridge, Kappa-bashi. Downriver is Taisho Pond whose waters provide picture-perfect reflections of the Hotaka Range. Upriver is mystical Myojin Pond. Many tourists just come for the day, but one of the best ways to enjoy Kamikochi is to spend the night and take an uncrowded evening or early morning stroll.
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Shaw Memorial Chapel (Karuizawa Churches)
Alexander Croft Shaw House and Memorial Chapel are testament to Karuizawa’s cosmopolitan origins as a summer getaway from Tokyo for expatriates and Japanese elite. Shaw built his villa here in 1888, and even today the quiet, cool setting in harmony with the shady larch trees suggests why Karuizawa has become a popular resort town. Inside the Shaw house, pictures are showing the elegance of resort life from times gone by. St. Paul’s Catholic Church just off the Ginza shopping street is another classic Karuizawa church with its wood construction representative of the area’s natural feel.
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Karuizawa's Historical Boulevards
On the north side of Karuizawa Station is a network of 39 mossy, stone-hedged lanes. As you leave the busy main street and enter these quiet, romantic side roads, you will see grand summer homes and simple but elegant Western-style lodging interspersed amongst the shady larch woods. This restive, cool setting has thrived as Japan’s most popular international summer resort since the late 19th century, loved by many well-known Japanese writers as well as Western missionaries. Japan’s emperor even met his queen Michiko at one of the area’s tennis courts. These historical boulevards are excellent for strolling, or better yet, for exploring on a bicycle from one of many rent-a-cycle shops nearby.
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Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza
Karuizawa sports Japan’s largest shopping mall, built in 1995 on the south side of Karuizawa Station. Featuring outlet shops of overseas designer brands, the mall provides year-round shopping enjoyment. Its approximately 200 shops offer everything from famous fashions to distinctive souvenirs, all in a natural setting with impressive views of Mount Asama.
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