Vegetarian's Japan Guide

A Guide to the Best Cafes on Old Karuizawa Ginza Street

Karuizawa is surely a top-class scenic summer resort close to Tokyo. But spending an entire day exploring the town can be tiring for many. So how about visiting a cafe with a nice ambiance on Old Karuizawa Gina Street for a break and enjoying a plate of nice dessert with a cup of coffee or tea? If the idea sounds good, read on for a list of our recommended cafes!

The above cafes are listed according to their distance from Karuizawa Station.

Cafe & Sweet’s Paomu (パオム)

Cafe & Sweet’s Paomu is a cafe founded in 1988 famous for its Karuizawa Pudding (軽井沢プリン) that has won the National Souvenir Grand Prix (全国手土産グランプリ). The cafe has two floors. Karuizawa Food Gallery on the ground floor has most of Nagano Prefecture‘s edible souvenirs on the shelf. It is one of the best places in Karuizawa to stop by to source souvenirs in one go.

The restaurant on the second floor has most of the ingredients sourced locally, making it a nice spot to taste the local produces. But just note that the restaurant may or may not have a vegetarian light meal option, depending on today’s special. However, requesting certain ingredients to be removed from certain dishes is possible, so please inquire when you get there.

If you eat eggs, remember to order the Karuizawa Pudding if you dine in. The pudding is made with milk and cream from the highland farm in Northern Karuizawa (Kitakaruizawa, 北軽井沢). After baking for an hour, the creamy pudding you put into your mouth has a hint of vanilla and caramel, giving you an unforgettable taste!

As all of Paomu’s desserts are available at its Sweet’s Shop on the ground floor, you can also take some away and enjoy them later.

In fact, there are more dessert options at their Sweet’s Shop. Besides Karuizawa Pudding, the Milky Raw Cheesecake (ミルキー生チーズケーキ) was chosen to be the top dessert in Karuizawa. If you dig it with a spoon, you will realize it has three layers: cream cheese, raw cheese, and blueberry sauce!

Cafe & Sweet’s Paomu’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Cafe & Sweet’s Paomu’s sweet shop is open daily except for Thursdays from:
    • 10:30 am to 5 pm from April to December
    • 11 am to 4 pm from January to March’s Friday to Sunday
  • The restaurant is open from 11 am to 3 pm.
    • The last order is taken at 2:50 pm.
  • The shop is around a 20-minute walk from Karuizawa Station and a 1-minute walk from the Kyu Karuizawa bus stop.

Mikado Coffee Old Karuizawa Street Shop (ミカド珈琲 軽井沢旧道店)

Mikado Coffee is a Western-style cafe with a 1950s atmosphere that opened in 1952. It is another spot that John Lennon regularly visited when he was in Japan. The authentic interior design is cosy and inviting. It is the perfect spot for those who wish to take a break after all that walking!

When you get to the cafe, you might see a queue in front of it. What are they lining up for? Mikado Coffee’s famous Mocha Soft Serve (モカソフト)! The ice cream, although it isn’t too sweet, is very creamy and rich. If you need a cup of coffee to get through your day, you will definitely enjoy the mocha soft serve!

Instead of taking the ice cream away for walking and eating, you can also order it at the cafe on the second floor. The creamy mocha soft serve will come with soaked prune, Mikado Coffee’s special syrup! Note that if you choose to have the ice cream in a cup, you will also get the prune syrup.

Besides the Mocha Soft Serve, a dessert called Mocha Jelly (モカゼリー) allows you to enjoy both Mikado Coffee’s mocha ice cream and coffee jelly. The specially made prune is also added to Mocha Jelly.

On a hot day, what will definitely cool you down is Mikado Coffee’s Mocha Float (モカフロート), where iced coffee is topped with Mocha Soft Serve.

Furthermore, you can also enjoy breakfast and lunch at the cafe. Its Redbean Butter Toast (An Butter Toast, あんバタートースト), made from 100% red beans from Hokkaidō, has the perfect balance of sweetness and saltiness. The faint scent of butter would also double your appetite!

Mikado Coffee’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Mikado Coffee is open daily except Wednesdays from 11 am to 4:30 pm.
    • The cafe on the second floor is open from 11 am.
    • The last order is taken at 4 pm.
    • The cafe is closed on the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 29th.
  • The cafe is around a 20 to 25-minute walk from Karuizawa Station and a 3-minute walk from the Kyu Karuizawa bus stop.

Kurian Fūmidō (栗庵風味堂軽井沢店)

What many are unaware of is that there is a town in Nagano Prefecture that produces delicious chestnuts and chestnut desserts. Obuse, a small town nestled in Nagano’s mountains, is heaven for the sweet tooth. But if you don’t have time to travel that far, Kurian Fūmidō has a branch in Karuizawa!

Kurian Fūmidō’s shop front is filled with traditional chestnut sweets. With so many items sitting on the shelf, deciding which one to buy can be hard. The shop also has a trendy cafe with terrace seats. So whether you want to walk and eat or enjoy the desserts relaxingly in the nice decorated cafe, both are possible!

If you eat eggs and hope to visit Karuizawa in autumn, remember to purchase a couple of Hatsukuri (初栗). This traditional sweet has chestnut paste and candied chestnut between two castella patties. It is also a confectionary that has won a prize at the national confectionary expo!

The traditional sweets maker also sells ice cream with a rich dairy taste. Made from Obuse’s fresh milk and without additives, whether it is just a soft serve cone or parfait, they are all popular menu items. But in particular, the Chestnut Parfait is a must-try because you can enjoy chestnuts processed/cooked in three different ways!

Kurian Fūmidō’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Kurian Fūmidō is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm.
    • It closes early at 5 pm in winter.
  • The shop is around a 25-minute walk from Karuizawa Station and a 5-minute walk from the Kyu Karuizawa bus stop.

Akaneya Coffee Shop (茜屋珈琲店 旧道店)

Akaneya is a cafe opened in Kobe‘s Sannomiya, which many famous writers and politicians visited. Then in 1970, it opened its second cafe in Karuizawa. The cafe, with a great ambience, is particular about its coffee brewing process (including bean grinding, which only starts only after receiving an order). So while it will take a bit longer, the coffee there is worth the wait!

What also makes Akaneya Coffee Shop stands out is its coffee cup collections. There are more than 300 cups! If you dine in, the staff will choose the coffee cup that matches your impression. So it is also a pleasure to see what kind of cup will be delivered to you!

Their chocolate cake is popular if you need something sweet to go with your coffee. The rich chocolate cake has a scent of bitterness in the sweetness, and the walnuts inside also add to the cake’s flavor. On the other hand, if you are more of a tea person, their cheesecake matches well with black tea. You can choose from several toppings, including cherry and blueberry jams.

On a hot summer day, their ice chocolate is another popular drink that will cool you down and allow you to taste the original taste of cocoa.

Tip: Akaneya’s bottled grape juice is a nice souvenir to bring home!

Akaneya Coffee Shop’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Akaneya Coffee Shop is open from 10 am to 6 pm.
    • The shop has longer business hours from 9 am to 9 pm in August.
    • In winter, Chimoto may close on the day without notice.
  • The studio is around a 30-minute walk from Karuizawa Station and a 5 to 10-minute walk from the Kyu Karuizawa bus stop.

Discover the Best Bakeries and Interesting Spots on Old Karuizawa Gina Street

Click the photo for more recommended spots on Old Karuizawa Gina Street!

Obviously cafes are not the only shop category on Old Karuizawa Gina Street. The 750-meter-long street is lined with trendy cafes, confectionary shops, tasty restaurants, and a lot more!

So refer to our Guide to Old Karuizawa Gina Street for more ideas of where to stop by when you visit Karuizawa!