Capture Japan: Karuizawa

Karuizawa, Nagano

I know summer is creeping up on us already, so I wanted to post about a famous resort area in Japan that I recommend visiting! Karuizawa is a quaint city located in Nagano Prefecture (about 1hr away via Shinkansen). Many famous celebrities are known for frequenting the area… such as John Lennon and Yoko Ono as well as other Japanese celebrities. The luxury inns or ryokan in Karuizawa offer beautiful private villas for its upper class customers. Many of the buildings look distinctly European or Japanese, so the city has a very unique appeal and aesthetic.

Karuizawa is most popular in the summer due to its cool and breezy weather and lush greenery. In the 1900s, many wealthy merchants who owned ritzy boutiques in Ginza would set up second stores in Karuizawa in the summer to escape the scorching hot weather in Tokyo (hence the old shopping area in Karuizawa was named “Ginza” after its Tokyo counterpart). However, the newer area of Karuizawa, south of the station, is host to a brand new outlet shopping mall, which includes all the luxury European designers (Prada, Saint Laurent, Gucci, etc.). Aside from shopping, there are many hikes, golf courses, and other activities tourists can partake in!

While I wasn’t able to visit Karuizawa in the summer, I did get the chance to go this past February. During the winter, the city turns into a ski resort with relaxing hot springs or onsens! We ended up staying at one of the Prince Hotels (which is a Western Style Hotel). The hotel had a shuttle that would take us from the hotels (West, East, and Villa, The Prince, and Asama, I think) to the ski area, shopping mall, and station, so it was incredibly convenient. Although the winter scenery was beautiful, I would love to visit this city again during summer if I get the chance. Any chance to escape the summer heat!

Capture Tokyo: Blush Roses in Yoyogi Park

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Blush Roses in Yoyogi Park

It’s beginning to look a lot like….. Summer ☀︎! It’s been quite humid and hot in Tokyo these past  couple of weeks, and I can already feel the dreaded summer heat slowly beginning to creep in. Living in Hawaii the majority of my life, most people automatically assume I love and thrive hot weather, which is true to some extent; however, I must clarify that Hawaii heat and Japan heat are two completely different things. Summer in Hawaii is hot, yes, but Hawaii has trade winds to make the summer heat bearable, which are nice, cool, breezy, beautiful winds (I am so thankful for) that originate from the Northeast across the Pacific Ocean. Japan, however, lacks any sort of cool breeze in its humid summer. It’s like walking through sheets of warm, wet, soggy water, and when the wind blows, it’s equivalent to the burst of heat you get when opening an oven (August is the worst)! That being said, May/June are one of my favorite months in Japan, since it’s right in between the chilly, windy early-Spring weather and the blistering late-Summer heat. Perfect weather for picnics and barbecues! Plus all of the flowers are in bloom🌺  I took this picture a while back during a picnic in Yoyogi Park with one of my friends and his family. Although Yoyogi can be incredibly crowded on the weekends, its mini rose garden and lush greenery is a breath of fresh air in the city… and I might as well enjoy it before it gets too hot to go outside!