Karuizawa is a famous destination for tourists, and has a lot of commercial and public attractions in the area. Shopping outlet is of course a top destination, but in addition to that, we have many museums, parks, onsen (hot spring), golf courses, sports facilities, etc. in the area.
For town residents, these facilities are very close not only in terms of their distance from their living environment but also in terms of their ease of use, thanks to preferential discount program specifically offered to the town residents.
Let me introduce some well known programs as follows. Some of these offers are applied to seasonal residents (owners of seasonal villas and cottages), too.
Tonbo no Yu (Hot Spring)
It is an onsen (hot spring) facility in Hoshino Resort. Its standard price for one time use for adult is ¥1,300 for weekday's use but it becomes ¥500 after town resident preferential discount is applied.
Kazakoshi Park (Sports facility)
It is a town operated sports facility. Curling arena is especially famous as one of the competition places of Nagano Olympic Games in 1998. Basically, town residents can enjoy 50%-off discount for whole the year for all its facilities.
Exercise Gym: ¥600 (One time use) to ¥300
Swimming Pool: ¥400 (One time use) to ¥200
Curling: ¥800 (One time use) to ¥400
Futsal: ¥400 (One hour use) to ¥200
Tennis Court: ¥4,500 (4 hours use) to ¥2,250
Ball Game Field (baseball or football): ¥26,000 (One day use) to ¥13,000
Gymnasium (Indoor ball games, Budo, etc.): ¥200 (One time use) to ¥100
Art Museum's Day
Karuizawa Museum of Art Council defines the 1st day of every month as the Art Museum's Day when admission fee is free at all the council member museums only for town residents. Following 9 museums are the members.
Sezon Museum of Modern Art
Collects and exhibits 20th century moderns art such as Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Anselm Kiefer, Francesco Clemente, Hisao Domoto, Keiji Usami, Shusaku Arakawa and
Literary Museum of Karuizawa
Exhibits manuscripts, personal collections etc. from Karuizawa origin writers such as Tatuo Hori, Saisei Muroo, Michizo Tachihara, Ryunosuke Akutagawa, and Yasunari Kawabata.
Tasaki Museum of Modern Art
Exhibits works by Hirosuke Tasaki.
Exhibits works by Raymond Peynet.
Karuizawa Picturebook Museum
Exhibits original pictures and painting of world famous picture books.
Wakita Museum of Art
Exhibits works by Kazu Wakita.
Le Vent Museum of Contemporary Art
Exhibits works by Isaku Nishimura and his fellows.
Karuizawa Erz Toy Museum
Exhibits Erzgebirge Toys from Ertz, Germany.
Hiroshi Senju Museum Karuizawa
Exhibits works by Hiroshi Senju.
It is Chinese new year week this week, and a lot of, again, a lot of tourists from China are coming to Japan. Karuizawa is actually one of the main destinations for outlet shoppers. Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza (PSP) is located just in front of Karuizawa station and is welcoming guest shoppers from Asia by holding a special sale. Until last year, I do not remember if PSP had such a big Chinese language dedicated poster like this, but this year, we can see not only this but also many other individual shops created their own Chinese language posters and ads to attract attention from Chinese tourists. For Japanese shoppers, it is good too because we can buy a lucky bag (福袋） twice a year in January and February and enjoy big sale events again. It must be good for sellers too.
Increase in overseas shoppers influences other parts of Karuizawa tourist scenery and economy. Until a few years ago, Karuizawa winter tourist scenery was actually quite silent. However, recent increase in inbound tourists to the town has changed the scenery little by little. Some rental bicycle shops, which used to close during winter, are now operating their shops even during winter. We sometimes see Chinese and Asian tourists riding bicycle on icy town roads for sightseeing. Japanese tourists do not do that as it is cold and risky, but overseas tourists do not care and look to enjoy sightseeing for icy and snowy town. Karuizawa town's winter icy scenery must have some values to attract them, something which most Japanese tourists and even Karuizawa local businesses have so far overlooked.
Actually, most of shops still tend to close during winter especially in Kyu Karuizawa area, but this winter tourist scenery changes may have a potential to change such tendency. I hope more local businesses in town rethink their strategy by taking advantage of this chance to convert Karuizawa to real all-season resort.