Let’s take a summer retreat to Karuizawa from Ikebukuro by highway bus!
Do you know there is a highway bus taking you directly to popular summer resort, Karuizawa from Tokyo and Ikebukuro? It just takes around 3 hours to go from Ikebukuro (East Exit), why not head off a trip to Karuizawa to cool off on hot summer days?
I am going to introduce you the “Ikebukuro – Karuizawa / Saku / Komoro / Ueda” line operated by Seibu Bus Company. Once you get on the bus from Ikebukuro, you can just stay on the air conditioned bus without the need of transits and get to your destination comfortably.
- What is “Ikebukuro – Karuizawa / Saku / Komoro / Ueda” line?
- I took the bus to Karuizawa
- 2 superb spots at Karuizawa to cool yourself down
- Lunch at an old villa and eat while walking under cool breezes
- Travel to Karuizawa in comfort by highway bus
What is “Ikebukuro – Karuizawa / Saku / Komoro / Ueda” line?
“Ikebukuro-Karuizawa/Saku/Komoro/Ueda” line is a highway bus service connecting you from Seibu Intercity Bus Stop at East Exit, Ikebukuro Station to Karuizawa Station via Shimo-ochiai Station and Nerima Station. Including a brief toilet break at a service area along the way, the whole ride takes about 3 hours to reach Karuizawa Station. There are some services stopped at Karuizawa Station while some go via the Saku Interchange to Komoro and Ueda without making a stop at Karuizawa. Please make sure you are in the right bus before booking a ticket.
■Merits of taking a bus
Below are some merits of taking a highway bus to Karuizawa.
- Highway bus is reservation based so a seat is guaranteed.
- You can sleep comfortably in a bus with air-conditioning.
- No need of taking transits.
- Bus is equipped with free wifi service and on-board toilet
- You can store your baggage in the trunk or in the overhead compartments
- Proper measures against COVID-19 are adopted in the bus
- Tidy up yourself during the break at service area
This bus is a perfect fit for travel with families, friends, solo travellers and even with kids.
Bus fare varies with season and is classified into 3 categories as below. You may confirm which category that your travel date falls into and the corresponding fare before making a reservation.
Bus ticket can be purchased online in advance or through the multi-purpose terminals at convenience stores. An adult ticket will get a 100yen discount from the normal fare, while a child ticket will be 50yen cheaper. Same-day tickets can also be bought on the day of travel, however, it is possible that the bus will be fully booked so I suggest making a reservation prior to your travel.
＞＞Click here to book a ticket online
From Ikebukuro to Karuizawa Station, there are 7 services scheduled in a day. The first service departs Ikebukuro Station at 07:15, while the last service departs at 18:50.
Please click here to see the bus timetable, and board a bus according to the time you booked.
I took the bus to Karuizawa
If it is your first time to travel on a highway bus, take it easy and I am going to show you how to get to the bus stop from Ikebukuro Station (East Exit).
■First, headed to the bus stop from Central East Exit (Seibu exit) of Ikebukuro Station
If you come to Ikebukuro Station by train, please take the East Exit (Central) where you will see a counter selling lottery tickets. Take the pedestrian crossing and head on the road at the left side of Matsumoto Kiyoshi Drugstore, and you will soon see the Seibu Intercity Bus Stop.
The familiar “white lion” of Seibu Lions is the mark of the platform. You can see a timetable (the red circle in the photo) at the platform and confirm which buses are making a stop at Karuizawa Station. Before departure, a bus attendant will also provide guidance to passengers at the platform.
I took the bus departing Ikebukuro Station at 08:10. 10 mins prior to the departure time, a bus bounding for Karuizawa Station arrived. I told the bus attendant my name and showed my ticket, and was guided to a pre-assigned seat.
■8:10 Departed for Karuizawa Station
Since it was a weekday morning, there were few passengers on the bus. The bus is air-conditioned with spacious 4-seats in a row setting.
Seats were reclinable with plenty leg room. Free wifi was provided and plasmacluster was introduced in all vehicles of Seibu buses to keep the air clean as a measure against COVID19.
At the back of the bus there was a toilet on board which you can use at any time.
On the way, we took a 20-min break at Kamisato Service Area. With 20 mins, you can slightly tidy up yourself.
■11:02 Arrived at Karuizawa Station
The whole ride took about 3 hours to reach the bus terminal at Karuizawa Station. The seats were so comfortable that I dozed off on the way and arrived in no time. I felt a cold breeze once I got off the bus. I couldn’t wait to start off my summer retreat.
2 superb spots at Karuizawa to cool yourself down
Most people go to Karuizawa just for its cool weather and want to escape from the summer heat. This time, I am going to introduce 2 spots to you where you can cool yourself down.
Your body temperature might drop just by looking at the photos.
■Shiraito Waterfall, a place full of negative ions
You should never miss visiting Shiraito Waterfall when you come to Karuizawa. On the day I visited, there were many visitors came for a leisurely walk to escape from the summer heat. In the photo showing the Yukawa River, there was a path leading up to the falls along the river which was well maintained and easy to walk. I walked along the path for 150m while hearing the pleasant sound of stream water flow, and saw the falls just in front of me.
“Shiraito Falls” is a scenic spot in a forest in Karuizawa. Shiraito means white threads and its name comes from its appearance that countless waterfalls run down like threads. The cool splash of waterfalls will make you forget the sweltering summer heat.
The fall measures 3 meters height with an astonishing 70 meters width. It is said that the source of the waterfall is groundwater, so it never runs out of water. The crushing water sound is soothing and generates high concentration of negative ions which have positive physiological effects, I was glad to be here to escape from city bustle.
◎Basic information of Shiraito Falls
|Address||(Kose) Nagakura, Karuizawa Town, Kitasaku-gun (On the way to Shiraito Highland Way)|
|Homepage||Click here for details|
Make sure to try the popular salt-grilled iwana at a shop near the falls where you can sample fresh iwana fished out of the Yukawa River. You can buy salted grilled iwana at 700 yen per fish, at 600 yen (tax inclusive) per fish if you order 3 or above. The grill time takes about 15 mins, so it is recommended to order it before you visit the falls.
■Kumobaike, a picturesque scenery at Karurizawa that you must see
Kumobaike is another spot that you must not miss when visiting Karuizawa. The pond offers a fantastic scenery in summer when the blue sky and clouds are beautifully reflected on the pond surface.
Since the Meiji period, Karuizawa has became a favourite resort for overseas visitors. Kumobaike is also known as a swan lake by foreigners. There is a path that you can walk around the lake in about 20 mins, take a quiet stroll in the lake and indulge yourself in the elegant landscapes with western-style villas.
In addition to the beautiful greenery in summer, Kumobaike is also a recommended spot for viewing autumn foilage. Remember to visit the place with your family and friends with a camera and create a lifetime happy memory.
◎Basic information of Kumobaike
|Address||Roppontuji, Karuizawa Town, Kitasaku-gun|
|Homepage||Click here for details|
Lunch at an old villa and eat while walking under cool breezes
I started feeling hungry after visiting a few spots and looked for food to cool down my body. Let me introduce you with some recommended cooling food.
■“Mocha soft ice cream” at Old Karuizawa Ginza Street
Speaking of Karuizawa, it first came to my mind was the “Mikado Coffee”. This shop, facing the Old Karuizawa Ginza Street, always has a long line even on weekdays.
Tourists were attracted by the famous “mocha soft ice cream” (430yen, tax inclusive), which had a moderate bitterness, exquisite sweetness, and an aromatic coffee aroma. Since it was first sold in 1969, it has been loved by many people and celebrities like John Lennon and his wife. Mikado soft serve with coffee jelly and float are also worth trying.
Basic information of Mikado Coffee (Old Karuizawa Ginza Street Branch)
|Operating Hours||11:00～16:30（Last.Order.16:00）※Jul & Aug’s schedule|
|Address||786-2 Karuizawa, Oaza, Karuizawa Town, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano Prefecture|
|Homepage||Click here for details|
■An elegant lunch at an old villa which is registered as a tangible cultural property of Japan
After walking passed the hustle and bustle of the Old Karuizawa Ginza Street, you will see a handmade sign in the forest. This area has a pleasant atmosphere lined with western-style villas, where it was the second home to a famous poet, Muro Saisei where he spent his summer time in one of the villas.
Kyu-Karuizawa café Suzunone was registered as tangible cultural property of Japan in 2013.
It was likely that the building was moved to this location in early Showa period, the same period as the “Shaw House” because they had the same layout. Shaw House was the first villa built in Karuizawa in 1888 by Alexander Croft Shaw, a missionary who made Karuizawa known to people as a summer resort. Writer, Yako Mori also stayed in this villa for summer retreat and writing.
It was wonderful to be able to dine at the site of a former villa. The greenery from the large open windows was spectacular. As it was a summer resort, it was very cool and comfortable to stay inside even without air conditioning.
You can enjoy the lunch time menu from 11:30 to 16:30. I ordered the “Beef pastrami Sandwich and Carrot Potage Lunch Set” (1,300 yen, tax excl.). The sandwich has a distinctive flavor with pastrami coated in a good amount of black pepper and crunchy lettuce. Other dishes on the menu, such as taco rice (1,100yen tax excl.) and tomato curry (1,200yen tax excl.) are perfect for a hot day and are sure to whet your appetite.
A summer drink “blue lemonade” (600yen, tax excl.) is popular too. Not only does it look great in photos, but its strong acidic flavor will help you beat the fatigue of summer and stay energized.
◎Basic information of Kyu-Karuizawa café Suzunone
|Address||House No. 1138, 972, Kyu-Karuizawa, Karuizawa Town, Kitasak-gun, Nagano Prefecture|
|Homepage||Click here for details|
Travel to Karuizawa in comfort by highway bus
How was it? The Ikebukuro-Karuizawa/Saku/Komoro/Ueda line operated by the Seibu Bus is a convenient bus service which connects you from Ikebukuro to Karuizawa in just 3 hours. It has frequent bus service and is perfect for you if you’d like to go Karuizawa to cool off for a while. Why don’t you take this bus for your next getaway and enjoy a summer retreat at a summer resort?