Karuizawa Ski Resort 


Karuizawa Ski Resort 

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The Karuizawa Ski Resort, also known as the Karuizawa Prince Hotel Ski Resort (so there’s no wondering who owns the resort), is renowned for being very readily accessible from Tokyo, being just over an hour from Tokyo or Ueno via bullet train.

When you conjure up thoughts of the appeal of skiing in Japan you may think of deep powder, high quality snow, tree skiing, charming hot spring villages, and minimal crowds. This is not Karuizawa, which feels more akin to skiing in China. Beginners could head to the Karuizawa Prince Hotel Ski Resort (or KaruSki for short) if they were very short on time and wanted a ski resort that’s close to Tokyo, but you’d be better off spending an extra 5 to 10 minutes on a train trip to one of the Yuzawa ski resorts that unlike Karuizawa, has reliable (real) snow.

Pros and Cons of Karuizawa Prince Resort

  • Karuizawa is one of the first ski resorts in Japan to open each season (early November), due to extensive snow making facilities.
  • Karuizawa Prince Hotel Ski Resort can be quickly accessed via train from Tokyo.
  • It’s co-located with a big shopping mall, so when you get bored with the skiing after 10 minutes you can go shopping.
  • The snow quality is generally very poor. Natural snow falls are few and far between and the ski resort mostly relies on manmade snow.
  • It’s a small ski area.
  • The easy access from Tokyo attracts big crowds, and lift queues can ensue along with commotion on the slopes.
  • Forget off-piste skiing. You’d be lucky to find any snow cover off the trails, unless someone has fired a snow gun in the wrong direction.
  • The area has been over-resortified and is really cheesy.
  • A Karuizawa skiing experience is expensive.
Pro or Con Depending On Your Perspective
  • The slopes are ideal for beginners, but learning to ski or snowboard alongside so many other people can be daunting.

Karuizawa Ski and Snowboard Terrain

Rather than selecting a prized mountain to put a ski resort on, the terrain for the Karuizawa Prince Hotel Ski Resort was selected because it was close to the train station. It’s a reasonably small ski area with nearly as many chair lifts as trails. Karuizawa Ski Resort has 10 runs across 30 hectares with a meagre vertical drop of 215 metres (940-1,155m). The 9 lifts are mostly made up of double chairs, along with a triple and 2 high speed quads that don’t really go high speed.

The trail statistics are 50% beginner, 30% intermediate and 20% advanced (5 green, 2 red and 3 black trails), yet in reality KaruSki is really a beginner hill that has a few patches for low-end intermediates. To give you an idea, the “black” runs have an average gradient of only 11-20 degrees…..Zzzzzzzzz.

Karuizawa Ski Resort has a terrain park, but this is also mostly targeted towards beginners.

Karuizawa Snow

Karuizawa doesn’t receive reliable snowfalls from Mother Nature, and it relies very heavily on artificial snow and has a whopping 200 snow guns. The quality of the fake snow often deteriorates further due to the very high skier traffic.

Where is Karuizawa Japan?

The town of Karuizawa and the Karuizawa Prince Hotel Ski Resort sits at the foot of Mt Asama, which is a particularly active volcano. Karuizawa is located 143km northwest of Tokyo in the eastern part of the Nagano Prefecture. It’s a decent distance south of Nagano City (77km to the northwest) where the highly regarded Nagano ski resorts can be found.

The Karuizawa Prince Hotel East sits at the base of the ski area and is about 500m from the Karuizawa train station, which is on the Hokuruki Shinkansen line. Bullet trains take about 60-75 minutes from Tokyo to Karuizawa, and there are free shuttle buses that meet the arriving trains.

Or if you’re driving, the Karuizawa Prince Hotel Resort is not far off the Usui Karuizawa Interchange on the Joshinetsu Expressway.

The Karuizawa Snow Park is 22km to the north.

Karuizawa Prince Hotels

The region has a few Prince hotels along with other hotels and various pensions. If you’re there to ski or snowboard or shop, your best bet is to stay at the Karuizawa Prince Hotel East which has hotel rooms and cottages. The hotel has onsens including a family oriented hot spring bath where you can wear your bathers.

Karuizawa Hotel Listings

Ski Resort Facilities & Activities

The ski resort has a handful of pricey eating options on the hill as well as a restaurant at the Prince Hotel East. The ski school offers private lessons in English, and rental equipment is available at the Karuizawa Ski Center and the Prince Hotel.

The resort offers a kids’ park and snow buggy rides up to the summit, but the main non-skiing activity is the shopping. The Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza has approximately 240 shops including some outlet stores.

Or a couple of kilometres north of the resort is another shopping district, Kyu Karuizawa Ginza, which is a little less resorty and more suited to souvenir shopping.
No listings were found for Karuizawa.