Karuizawa: a trip within a trip

I had honestly never heard of Karuizawa before. One of my cousins informed me that a season of Terrace House was filmed there though. It’s “in the mountains” and is pretty was all I had heard from family members.

They were not wrong!

We flew into Japan on a Wednesday afternoon and already the next morning, we were packing to leave my grandma’s house for in Kamakura for Karuizawa. This may not seem like such a big deal but we were traveling with a 14-month-old who was still presumably jetlagged! (Was I myself jetlagged? Probably!) The reason for the Karuizawa trip was because it was for my cousin’s wedding. (Not the same cousin who told me about Terrace House.) If it wasn’t for the wedding, we would have stayed put in Kamakura upon our arrival to Japan.

I’ll spare you the details of traveling by bus then train then shinkansen (bullet train) then shuttle bus to our hotel in Karuizawa but let’s just say baby girl did not nap at all. She did eat her Hello Kitty shikansen bento on the shinkansen. And, my 94-year-old grandma also fared well with the long travel day, all things considered.

Enough about the boring travel details, you want to hear about Karuizawa, right?

The fall colors were just starting to turn when we were there mid-October, but it was really nice. It definitely felt similar to the Pacific Northwest back home so I can see the appeal of people loving it so much. (Yes, I am biased.) And, the dogs! There were so many dogs. Little dogs and big dogs, just every type of dog. In fact, there’s an outlet mall next to the Karuizawa train station and I swear we saw more dogs than people. At one point my dad thought we were seated in a “dogs only” area in the outdoor seating area where we were eating lunch before catching our train home. I am not exaggerating when I say literally every table near us had at least one dog.

Karuizawa is known for having flying squirrels. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any during our 48-hour trip. No surprise though since they are nocturnal animals and we weren’t out looking for them at night.

We went on a few nice walks in the woods. For one of them, we went “off the beaten path” and away from the hotel/resort area. We stumbled upon a park with a small neighborhood temple next to it. It was sunny and peaceful. Just perfect.

Oh, and my cousin’s wedding was really nice and it was so great to catch up with family I hadn’t seen in 3 years!

If we ever make it back to Karuizawa, we would definitely like to do some “real” hiking. There was really no time this time with the wedding and all. Plus, we didn’t have baby girl’s hiking backpack with us. (We opted to not bring it with us on this international trip. If you’re curious on what we did or did not bring for our baby, I’ll compile that riveting list another time.)

Also, maybe next time we can see one of those flying squirrels!

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