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Snowy Day Trip

December 21, 2015
Tokyo is always bustling, but (much like an elf on Christmas Eve) the Nippon capital really goes into overdrive during the silly season, with seemingly every street and shop packed with present-hunters. Fortunately for those feeling the onset of Christmas crowd fatigue, there is an easy out-of-town antidote in the form of picture-perfect mountain retreat Karuizawa. What a gift!

Only an hour away by train, the town is better known as a summer escape from the sticky city heat, but in the chillier months it transforms into a winter wonderland of snow-covered traditional houses, pine trees, twinkly lights and gentle ski slopes.

Start in Kyu-Karuizawa, a quaint area filled with little boutiques and restaurants or take a bracing morning stroll around the nearby and ever-tranquil Kumoba Pond.

More water wonders await in the forests around Karuizawa, home to the beautiful, 70m-long Shiraito Falls and Hoshino Onsen, an elegant bathhouse fed by hot springs where you can bob about in warm outdoor pools then get pampered with a spa treatment.

Muscles relaxed? Then it’s time to snap on some skis and get slopeside at the Prince Snow Resort – and if the runs aren’t exactly adrenaline-inducing, well, there's always the threat of an active volcano up above for added excitement.

And what better way to finish your day than by taking in the dazzling light displays that illuminate the central shopping plaza. Karuizaw-aaah.

Karuizawa / Nagano / bullet trains to Karuizawa depart every 20 mins from Tokyo Station