Hello everyone! Welcome to another blog series on J Beauty Journal!
This year I’ve decided to create a blog series according to the season here in Japan. My Autumn in Japan blog series was super fun and I had an easier time thinking which destination to go to next. So I decided to do the same this winter.
Why I ended up going to Karuizawa and Nagoya
Karuizawa was Lori’s idea, she’s my friend who has a food blog on Instagram called MecchaYUM. If you love food and want to know something about it, check her out!
Anyway, we’ve been thinking of going to Karuizawa for a while now. She wanted to check out the Hiroshi Senju Museum and the Shiraito Falls.
Nagoya was also an idea from my friend, Icon.
She’s my former co-worker in the Philippines and she likes Japan. She really wanted to see Korankei park in Aichi prefecture and since Nagoya had cheap flights, we decided to meet there.
Interesting points in Karuizawa and Nagoya
Karuizawa is a well-known summer destination for locals because it’s cooler. It’s high up in the mountains and it doesn’t look like your normal Japanese town. Lori is from Canada and it reminded her of home! From the station, you can see the ski resort already open in early winter and the architecture was mostly western. Our interest during this trip was mainly the Museum and the falls. We wanted to visit the museum while they are still allowing visitors to take pictures and videos inside.
Nagoya, on the other hand, looks a lot like Tokyo on a smaller scale. It’s a city with temples and shrines scattered around it. It has its own Sky Tower, Nagoya TV Tower, zoo, and a huge park. Nagoya city’s modern architecture is also a sight to see and it’s just around the Nagoya station. The big difference though is the number of Japanese castles you can visit within the city and the number of trees. Nagoya boasts a vast canopy of trees, just go up to the Sky Tower and compare the view from Tokyo Skytree.
How I got from Tokyo to Karuizawa and Nagoya
On both trips, I used Willer express to book the roundtrip bus(this is not sponsored).
Karuizawa, since it was during the weekend, had a higher price for the relax type seats. So I ended up booking the Seibu bus with the usual bus seats in Japan. Karuizawa was only a day trip from Tokyo. By bus, it took us about 3 hours to get there but if you use bullet trains, then it’ll just be about 2 hours or less. I really like using the bus now compared to trains because, for a roundtrip bus ticket from Shinjuku to Karuizawa on a weekend, I got to book it with only 5,200JPY. If I use the train it’ll be twice that amount.
Nagoya is farther than Karuizawa, so I booked the night bus from Ikebukuro. This time I got the relax type seat with only 6,200JPY for a roundtrip. It was a weekday too so prices are normally cheaper but if I decided to take the bullet train then oneway will cost me more or less 10,000JPY.
What I learned from my trips to Karuizawa and Nagoya
In Karuizawa, I learned that you have to be time-conscious all the time, especially when you received specific bus time schedules from the tourist information staff. You also need more Japanese skills here because the staff doesn’t normally speak English. At that time, Lori and I have basic Japanese skills but we understood the lady. She was so nice, gave us all the bus schedule and bus stop information. She practically fixed our day trip Karuizawa itinerary for us.
However, that didn’t stop us from boarding the wrong bus and ended up in the middle of nowhere. We also paid a super expensive bus fare because the bus was on it’s way to Gunma!
We ended up dropping off at the foot of Mt. Asama, an active complex volcano, 8,425 ft above sea level, at the border of Gunma and Nagano and one of Japan’s 100 famous mountains! Can you believe it?
At that time we thought we’re in the middle of nowhere, but I guess we were meant to get lost and pay our respect to Asama-san.
In the end, we took the next bus going to Shiraito falls and went on with our itinerary.
Nagoya wasn’t complicated at all. My only mistake there was, I did not ask the staff if I can use my Pasmo card. So on my first day there, all the way to Korankei, I did not use my Pasmo card. I struggled to use the local individual paper tickets on trains and bus, only to find out the next day that I can use my Pasmo card both on trains and bus!
So no matter how stupid you might think your question is, ask the tourist information staff. They speak English there in Nagoya Tourism Office.
Would I go back to Karuizawa and Nagoya?
I will definitely go back to Karuizawa with a car. There were too many spots we couldn’t visit because a) our bus going back to Shinjuku leaves at 6pm and b) we were commuting by local bus which has limited time and routes. There were local trains there too but none of the stations were near our POI(points of interest).
I won’t necessarily go back to Nagoya city just for sightseeing, but if I find myself wanting to explore Gifu, Nagano, and Gunma I might be able to find a cheaper accommodation in Nagoya. It really depends but I don’t see myself going back there anytime soon.
That’s it for today’s blog post! Thanks for sticking around.
Don’t forget to watch the video to see some points of interest in Karuizawa and Nagoya for your next trip!
If you’ve been to these places or any feedback at all for my blog, let me know at the comments below 🙂
Look out for next weekend’s キラキラ winter blog post, it’s going to be in Saitama’s Metsa Village.
Have a beautiful day!