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Karuizawa Summer

Theme music for this post: A Summer's Day by Mike Rowland [from 7:20 onward]
Theme music 2 for: Dream Ten by Liquid Mind
In Japan there are the four distinct seasons, and for every season there's always a famous scenic spot that Japanese flock to, some in order to escape the heat and sultriness of summer and the concrete slab jungles of Tokyo, while others, to more glorious plateaus that overlook green pastures along low lying valleys stretching deep into the backbone of the countryside. Rolling hills dotted with tiny little hamlets and cottages tucked away here and there, some out of plain view, some in low places, others along unmarked footpaths and waterways. Ancient trees with moss grown thick in them, all lush and green. That's Karuizawa. That famous get away spot for the rich and retired. The place known for its gorgeous golf ranges,densely wooded forests, and ponds.

There we were, me and my other,other seasoned beauty, met by cool temps and pleasant breezes from the northern Nagano Alps poured over us with hot sunshine. As we continued walking toward the station exit a passion whelmed up in my chest. Something about the smell of sunscreen and cool gels on the skin, too. Our itinerary on that beautiful sunny day, with the help of my iphone, was to hike up a 3km trail, 1200 m, near Togemachi to a place called Miharashidai [ 見晴し台] near the Nagano / Gunma borderline. There's a scenic spot overlooking these two prefectures. I twitted most of my hike with Motion X.
This app. allows you to auto update your location to Facebook, Twitter, and your e-mail simultaneously, so if you forget while you are in the middle of a tough hike, it does it for you. The pictures are my location.
I was excited about that hike all the way up from Tokyo. From the Shinkansen's window, as we sped closer and closer to Karuizawa, I could see majestic mountains coming into view. My eyes were blessed.... From Tokyo Station to Karuizawa Station, via the Asama Shinkansen, took only an hour and ten minutes. The fare is 5000 yen one-way, green car[ upgraded]. I only ride green. Normal fare for normal seating is about 3600 yen round-trip.
On the way up, we had an ekiben[ train lunch box]
Mazahad the Nagano chicken lunch box
I had the famous Daruma Bento. The beer was ice cold, by the way.
The inside.

As soon as we made our way down to the taxi rank a cabbie pulls up and whisked us away to are starting point for the hike. According to the weather forecast we were expecting showers later in the afternoon. We started the hike at around 11am and I huffed and puffed my way up as quickly as I could.
The main entrance to the hiking trail is called Kyuーsuitogeーyurando. From this spot you can see signs warning of bears. I didn't have anything to scare the bears off. I forgot to bring bells. Well, Japanese bears are small, so I should be able to wrestle one to the ground.
The whole hiking trail was rich in nature. Fauna and shrubs were here and there. Long and tall cedars were abound.
We crossed over a long wooden bridge near a soft flowing ravine with rocks and bushes.
High up, there were some birds in the trees. We saw lizards and little creatures of every kind scurrying about under patches of green and stone crevices.
So much green, I said to myself. And then this passage from one of Mr. Thoreau's prose came to my mind:
"If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen." ~Henry David Thoreau

This small little fern was really nice. I saw so many of these and was reminded at how long they've been a part of the plant family - 145 millions years! Some folklores claim that if you see a fern then you will have good luck and happiness. We were so happy to see so many plant species preserved and looked after. I was impressed. No speculators here.

The hiking course sort of meandered along a series of dirt trails, and unmarked pathways, taking us here and there. We got lost a little, but it was OK. We had each other. As we continued on, making our way up higher into the mountain trail we discovered beautiful trees, but what we really discovered was summer adorned in green.

The whole hike was invigorating for the both of us. I felt good even though I was breathing heavily. There were berries and small little acorns.
Finally, after a little over an hour we made it to point Miharashidai [見晴台]. While there we took in some lovely views.
From this point Gunma and Nagano Prefectures meet, and from this view point you can get a sense of why so many people travel here during the summer - green.
In the next post I will add one more section highlighting a few more places around Karuizawa, including our hotel and so on.

This blog post will be hosted at J-Festa


  1. Karuizawa is one of our favourite summer escapes and we used to drive up there from Gifu every summer. I love the beautiful nature and amazing food they have there. Did you try any of the sausages or dairy products?

    Japan Australia

  2. thanks for participating in j-festa. that hiking trail looks awesome. what an amazing view at the end ie the final photo - breathtaking.

  3. JA - yes. truly one of my new best places.

    @reesan - thanks for hosting the matsuri this month.

  4. Howdy SoJ,

    I love some of these photos. Very good :)

    I also wanted to say thanks again for submitting to the BT Blog Carnival, and also congratulations! Your article has been hand-selected and was included in the 8th BT Blog Carnival which was published today.

    If you could retweet, stumble, or like this edition of the blog carnival, I would really appreciate it. :)

    Thanks again!


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