Tokyo is always changing and evolving so I love discovering what’s new in my favourite city every time I pay a visit. This progressive and magnificent metropolis never disappoints me. I was so happy to be in Tokyo and I really wanted to capture my time there so I asked Nathalie at Nathalie April Photography Japan if she’d take some photographs of me in Shibuya. You can see what a talented photographer she is when you look at this picture of me below. I don’t think I’ve ever looked so relaxed in a photo!
I had an absolutely fantastic time in Tokyo but I also had the chance to visit the beautiful resort town of Karuizawa for the first time.
You can now travel to Karuizawa and back to Tokyo on the shinkansen bullet train for just ¥10,000 on a 3-day JR TOKYO Wide Pass. This is a town well-worth including in your itinerary if you’re planning to visit Japan. The climate in Karuizawa is cooler than Tokyo and the pace is much more relaxed so it’s the perfect place to kick back and enjoy a few days before you travel to another part of Japan or back to your home country.
I bought this charming photo below of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko of Japan playing a spot of tennis in Karuizawa from Tsuchiya Shashinten, a specialty photography shop on Ginza Street in Kyu-Karuizawa where you can purchase all sorts of professional photos of the Imperial Family and the surrounding area for just a few hundred yen.
There are all sorts of quirky and interesting shops in Kyu-Karuizawa selling gorgeous souvenirs and trinkets but you can also shop to your heart’s content at the Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza, a designer outlet, just behind Karuizawa Station where you can pick up some real bargains. In fact, I bought a lovely cream-coloured leather Coach business card holder here for just ¥5,800, reduced from ¥17,000!
Karuizawa is really picturesque and captivating at any time of the year, making it the perfect holiday choice in the warmer months and a great destination if you love to ski in winter and bathe in hot springs or if you just want to enjoy the autumn leaves. Karuizawa is considered to be an upmarket town. In fact, the Imperial Family spend part of their summer in Karuizawa nearly every year and many affluent Japanese people have holiday homes here.
There are also lots of restaurants serving high quality Western and Japanese food in Karuizawa. We dined at Benson Hamburger and Pasta just off Ginza Street in Kyu-Karuizawa. I had the salmon pasta and Roy had the hamburger with chips. The service was excellent, the food was wonderful and the atmosphere was relaxed and just so inviting.
Another interesting fact you may not know is John Lennon and Yoko Ono used to spend every every summer here so if you’re a Beatles fan you’ll love visiting their favourite French Bakery in Kyu-Karuizawa or you could even enjoy a delicious lunch at the Mampei Hotel where they used to stay.
I’ll be sharing lots of photos and memories of my latest trip to Tokyo and Karuizawa over the next few months so please come back and visit my Cherry Blossom Stories Blog and feel free to leave a comment.