Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Recommended Spots to Visit on Old Karuizawa Ginza Street

Old Karuizawa Ginza Street (軽井沢銀座通り) is the must-visit spot when you visit Karuizawa. The 750-meter-long street starts from the Kyū-Karuizawa Bus Stop (旧軽井沢バス停) to Nite Bridge (二手橋). Lined with long-established shops that preserve both traditional and trendy boutique stores, it is the center of Karuizawa for sightseeing. Even if you plan on just window-shopping through the bakeries, cafes, and local speciality shops, we are sure you will still have a lot of fun!

Back in the Edo period, Karuizawa was known as Karuizawa-Juku (軽井沢宿), a post town on the Former Nakasendō (旧中山道). Receiving travelers from around the country, the town was prosperous.

After Japan opened its border, Karuizawa became a summer resort for foreigners, adding many Western elements to the old post town. And nowadays, it is the destination where the wealthier population would consider purchasing a villa.


A List of Recommended Spots to Visit on Old Karuizawa Gina Street

Explore Karuizawa With a Guided Tour

If you prefer a guide to introduce you to the charms of Karuizawa, how about joining one of the below tours?

You can also book to participate in one of the workshops/activities below!

How to Get to Old Karuizawa Ginza Street

  • The Old Karuizawa Gina Street is around a 20-minute walk from JR Karuizawa Station (軽井沢駅).
  • If you plan to take a bus, get off at Kyū-Karuizawa (旧軽井沢). It will take around 5 minutes. The two bus companies that operate in the area are:
    • Seibu Sightseeing Bus (西武観光バス)
      • Refer to HERE to search for the service’s timetable.
    • Kusakaru Kōtsū (草軽交通)
      • Refer to HERE and click “English timetable” at the top of the webpage for the service’s timetable.
  • You can also rent a bicycle from one of the rental shops around Karuizawa Station. Although you can’t park in front of the shops you want to visit, there are free bicycle parking lots on Old Karuizawa Ginza Street.

Important: There is no convenience store/supermarket or ATM on Old Karuizawa Gina Street. Please utilize the facilities around the train station.

Tip: The free toilet facility is at the back of the Karuizawa Post Office.

Recommended Bakeries on Old Karuizawa Gina Street

When you walk on Old Karuizawa Ginza Street, you will notice several bakeries on this 750-meter-long street. Some of them even have a cafe serving light meals!

But because each has its charm, if you are unsure which one to visit, refer to our Guide to the Top Bakeries on Old Karuizawa Ginza Street for an introduction to the most popular ones and the reasons behind them!

The bakeries mentioned in the article are all great places to get your breakfast sorted, as most open early and have a dining area.

The Top Cafes on Old Karuizawa Gina Street

Karuizawa is surely a top-class scenic summer resort close to Tokyo. But spending an entire day exploring the town can be tiring. 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, refer to our Guide to the Recommended Cafes on Old Karuizawa Gina Street! The article has a good combination of both Japanese and Western cafes (^_-)-☆.

The Best Jam and Dip Stores on Old Karuizawa Gina Street

As you walk around Karuizawa, you will notice that the town has many jams stores. Why? Because Karuizawa is jam’s birthplace in Japan. As the town received many foreign visitors, especially in summer, the method of making delicious jams was passed to the locals. But many shops and cafes in Karuizawa sell homemade jams, so deciding which shop to buy from can be hard.

If you are unsure which shop to visit, refer to our article on The Most Popular Jam Specialists on Old Karuizawa Ginza Street. You will likely find some unusual flavors in some of them!

Atelier de Fromage (アトリエ・ド・フロマージュ旧軽井沢店)

Atelier de Fromage is a shop specializing in cheese and cheese desserts. Opened by a cheesemaker established in 1982, there are more than 20 different types of cheese for you to choose from. The sweets at Atelier de Fromage have a rich dairy taste.

A popular dessert to walk and eat is their cheese soft serve (生チーズソフトクリーム). The ice cream with a slight cheese taste isn’t too sweet and has a rich milky flavor. If you are after something with a richer cheese taste, try their raw cheesecake! It isn’t just a sweet cheesecake, but a cheesecake with a refreshing taste. The homemade yogurt is nice too, even the ones without sugar!

In addition, their Homemade Camembert Apple Pie (自家製カマンベールのアップルパイ) received the gold award from Mode Selection from 2011 to 2016. The cream puff with mascarpone is another dessert that can’t be missed!

Tip: Atelier de Fromage also has a pizza restaurant, Atelier de Fromage Pizzeria (アトリエ・ド・フロマージュ 軽井沢ピッツェリア), serving pizzas made with their homemade cheese.

Atelier de Fromage Kyukaruizawa Shop’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Atelier de Fromage Kyukaruizawa Shop is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm except for Thursdays.
    • Kyukaruizawa Shop is closed from the end of December to the 15th of March.
  • Atelier de Fromage Kyukaruizawa Shop is around a 15-minute walk from Karuizawa Station and a 1-minute walk from the Kyu Karuizawa bus stop.

Sujū Masayuki Shop (酢重正之商店)

Speaking of Nagano Prefecture, it is famous for seasonings such as miso paste, and Suju Masayuki Shop is a famous miso paste maker in Karuizawa. It is the sister shop of the high-class Japanese restaurant, Restaurant Sujū Masayuki (レストラン酢重正之). Because the raw ingredients were carefully chosen and processed, whether it is miso, dressing, or pickles, the items at Sujū Masayuki Shop are all premium grade!

In addition, traditional snacks such as Senbei crackers and Karintō are also sold at Sujū Masayuki Shop. The recommended snack is Miso Senbei (味噌せんべい). Unlike its appearance, the rice cracker isn’t as hard as it looks. Different from the soy sauce-based rice crackers, Sujū Masayuki Shop’s Miso Senbei has a sweet taste from the miso paste.

Tip: A recommended dressing is Kurumi Miso (くるみ味噌), a dressing made with walnuts. It goes really well with all kinds of vegetable dishes. You can even use it as a noodle dipping sauce! Also, Fuki Miso (ふき味噌) is the dressing for rice and tofu.

Sujū Masayuki Shop’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Sujū Masayuki Shop is open from 10 am to 6 pm with potential longer hours in summer.
  • Sujū Masayuki Shop is around a 20-minute walk from Karuizawa Station and a 1-minute walk from the Kyu Karuizawa bus stop.

Kawakami An (軽井沢 川上庵 本店)

Kawakami An is a famous soba noodle restaurant with long queues. In addition to the two restaurants in Karuizawa, Kawakami An also has a restaurant in both Aoyama (青山) and Azabu (麻布) in Tokyo.

Instead of a traditional look, Kawakami An has a stylish appearance with a terrace, resembling a trendy cafe. So when you get to the restaurant, you might doubt if Google Maps has led you to the wrong spot!

Besides the interior design, the main reason for Kawakami An’s success lies in the quality of buckwheat. By only sourcing the best buckwheat around the country and grinding only the amount that will be used for the day with a custom-made stone mill, the resulting soba noodles at Kawakami An is thin but chewy.

While not vegetarian, Kawakami An is known for its walnut dipping sauce (クルミだれ). Because walnut is one of the region’s specialty, it is one of the ingredients that the locals use for cooking and dessert making. The walnut noodle dipping sauce at Kawakami An is rich and mellow and has a very pleasant aroma. In fact, those who normally don’t like soba noodles would still order a plate of soba noodles with walnut sauce.

Making your meal more healthy and fulfilling, how about a plate of warm salad of colorful vegetables (彩り野菜の温製サラダ )? The seasonal vegetables are slightly fried to bring out the sweetness but still retain the fresh vegetables’ crunchiness!

Tip: It is possible to order other soba dishes and replace the dipping sauce with walnut dipping sauce.

Kawakamian’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Kawakamian is open from:
    • 11 am to 5 pm
    • 5 pm to 10 pm
      • The last order is taken at 9 pm.
  • The restaurant is around a 20-minute walk from Karuizawa Station and in front of the Kyu Karuizawa bus stop.

Important: The restaurant charges a 5% for service fee from 5 pm.

Kyū-Karuizawa Mori no Museum (旧軽井沢森ノ美術館)

If you enjoy trick art, visit Kyū-Karuizawa Mori no Museum. The museum has three floors divided into 11 corners, each filled with trick art of different themes. Together, there are approximately 100 artworks on display, including animal paintings that change appearance depending on the viewing position, parodies of famous paintings, and trompe l’oeil paintings!

Chairs are also placed across the museum for you to rest on. There is also a small cafe in Kyū-Karuizawa Mori no Museum, but note that no vegetarian light meal menu is available.

Kyū-Karuizawa Mori no Museum’s Opening Hours, Admission Fees, and Access Information

  • Kyū-Karuizawa Mori no Museum is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm.
  • The admission fee is:
    • 1,500 yen for adults
    • 1,200 yen for elderly who is 65 years old and above
    • 1,000 yen for senior high school students
    • 800 yen for elementary and junior high school students
  • The museum is around a 20-minute walk from Karuizawa Station and a 1-minute walk from the Kyu Karuizawa bus stop.

La Fée Bretonne (ラ・フェ・ブルトン)

When crepe traveled from France to Japan, how it was served changed. Instead of on a plate, it is rolled into a wrap. The best place to enjoy crepe in Karuziawa is La Fée Bretonne. The owner learnt how to make authentic crepe in France’s Brittany region. Even the crepe makers are from France! So if you are missing French cuisine but don’t want to dine at a fancy French restaurant, grab a crepe from La Fée Bretonne!

Although small, the shop is extremely popular and regularly appears in Karuizawa‘s travel magazine. Unlike most crepe shops in Japan, the fresh cream used at La Fée Bretonne doesn’t contain any sugar. So it is healthier and allows you to taste the cream’s original flavor.

La Fée Bretonne’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • La Fée Bretonne is open daily except for Fridays from 10:30 am to 5 pm.
  • The shop is around a 20 to 25-minute walk from Karuizawa Station and a 2-minute walk from the Kyu Karuizawa bus stop.

L’ATELIER de Karuizawa (軽井沢のアトリエ)

A recommended shop for those looking for souvenir sweets for their friends and colleagues is L’ATELIER de Karuizawa. While their confectionary is of Western style, you probably won’t be able to find cookies and biscuits made in the same style there in your hometown. The fillings of L’ATELIER de Karuizawa’s confectionaries are just unique! The pasta and dipping sauce flavors sold there are also hard to find elsewhere!

For example, the Cheese Cream Fruits Sandwich (チーズクリーム フルーツサンド) has two shortbread biscuits sandwiched with cheese cream and apricot. Their Walnut Basil Pasta Sauce (信州東御産胡桃のバジルソース) is another item on the shelf that many people would put in their shopping cart.

However, the most interesting dessert sold at L’ATELIER de Karuizawa is pudding. Unlike pudding sold elsewhere in a container, L’ATELIER de Karuizawa utilizes real eggshells. It is amazing how the shop can break an egg so perfectly! The pudding in the eggshell is, of course, very rich and delicious. And most excitingly, you can get the ones with a baby chick’s head on top of the pudding, so it looks like it is popping out of the shell!

L’ATELIER de Karuizawa’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • L’ATELIER de Karuizawa is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.
  • The shop is around a 20 to 25-minute walk from Karuizawa Station and a 5-minute walk from the Kyu Karuizawa bus stop.

Karuizawa Shirakabadou (白樺堂)

Karuizawa Shirakabadou is a confectionery and jam maker that opened in 1948. It is one of the most popular shops in Karuizawa.

The most representative sweet of Karuizawa Shirakabadou has to be Karuizawa Almond Tart (軽井沢タルトアーモンド), which won a Monde Selection gold award. Surprisingly, the rich almond and butter fragrance tart has crispy skin and a moist texture. If you like walnuts, there are also walnut tarts to enjoy.

Another interesting item to try is the Pudding Dorayaki (プリン生どら焼き). What the castella patties wrap isn’t red bean paste but pudding!

Karuizawa Shirakabadou’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • L’ATELIER de Karuizawa is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm.
  • The shop is around a 25-minute walk from Karuizawa Station and a 5-minute walk from the Kyu Karuizawa bus stop.

L’ibisco Karuizawa (リビスコ軽井沢店)

Passing Nakayama’s Jam, if you turn right as you reach the intersection and walk to the end, gelatos at L’ibisco Karuizawa will be waiting for you. The shop uses the pasteurisation process to maintain the ingredients’ natural deliciousness, which takes more time and effort. The gelato is made with milk from Obuse and fresh fruits each morning. Because the shop is strict about only selling gelato made on the day, their product’s freshness is guaranteed. But at the same time, the popular flavors might be sold out early, so arrive earlier for more choices!

Instead of the typical ice cream flavors, seasonal flavors are recommended because many of them, such as watermelon, are uncommon!

If you are a vegan or vegetarian, L’ibisco Karuizawa is a valuable shop for you because L’ibisco Karuizawa’s gelato is made without eggs. Also, the sugar level is minimized, allowing you to taste the ingredient’s original flavor. There are also a couple of flavors made without milk.

Refer to their website HERE for their gelato menu!

The tennis court in front of L’ibisco Karuizawa was where the Meiji Emperor met the Empress. Before the shop moved to its current location, the granddaughters of the Meiji Emperor (Mako and Kako) were customers of L’ibisco Karuizawa!

Tip: If you love L’ibisco Karuizawa’s gelato, you can also visit their shop in Ginza, Tokyo.

L’ibisco Karuizawa’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • L’ibisco Karuizawa is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.
  • The shop is around a 25-minute walk from Karuizawa Station and a 5-minute walk from the Kyu Karuizawa bus stop.

Karuizawa Information Center (軽井沢観光会館)

If you haven’t already, visit Karuizawa Information Center to plan your visit to Karuizawa. The information center used to be Karuizawa Post Office. Renovated and re-opened in 1995, it is now the town’s tourist center where sightseeing and local specialties information can be obtained. There is also a topographical model of the region on the first floor, giving you a general idea of the mountains surrounding Karuizawa.

Furthermore, there is a Karuizawa mini railway museum on the second floor. It is where you can get a rough idea of the railway history of Usui Pass (碓氷峠) and Kusakaru Dentetsu, which used to run between Karuizawa and Kusatsu Onsen.

In addition, the information center also has a remote working space for those who are on a business trip. If you need a rest from all the sightseeing, Karuizawa Information Center is also a nice spot to take a break.

But just note that using the toilet facility at Karuizawa Information Center will cost 100 yen.

Karuizawa Information Center’s Opening Hours and Access Information

  • Karuizawa Information Center is open from 9 am to 5 pm.
    • The opening hours are extended to 6 pm from mid-July to late August.
    • The center is closed from the 28th to the 31st of December.
  • The shop is around a 25-minute walk from Karuizawa Station and a 5-minute walk from the Kyu Karuizawa bus stop.

Tsuchiya Photo Studio (土屋写真店)

Tsuchiya Photo Studio was once Karuizawa-Juku’s inn, where many celebrities back then stayed at. In 1906, it was re-opened as a photo studio. Thanks to its long history, Tsuchiya Photo Studio is more than a place where you have your photo taken. It is half a museum with many old photos decorating the shop’s wall. Several of them are even the imperial family members’ photos. You will also find photos of the Meiji Emperor and Empress playing tennis at Karuizawa-kai Tennis Court!

Browsing through the pictures in Tsuchiya Photo Studio will give you a good idea of Karuizawa‘s history. Whether it is the changes in architectural style and how people dress, it is a great spot on Old Ginza Street for a quick journey back into the past for free!

If any old photos catch your attention, you can bring a copy home for a small fee. Postcards are also sold at Tsuchiya Photo Studio.

Tsuchiya Photo Studio’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Tsuchiya Photo Studio is open daily from 9 am to 6 pm except from mid-November to mid-April.
    • It opens until 8 pm in the summer.
  • The studio is around a 25-minute walk from Karuizawa Station and a 5-minute walk from the Kyu Karuizawa bus stop.

Karuizawa Photography Studio (軽井沢写真館)

Another photography studio that is worthwhile visiting is Karuizawa Photography Studio. Walking on Karuizawa Old Ginza Street, the studio will catch your attention. Contrasting with its traditional Japanese-style building, everyone in the photos displayed at the shop front is wearing Western-style costumes. Many of them are Japanese celebrities.

Different from Tsuchiya Photo Studio, Karuizawa Photography Studio is where you can change into a European aristocratic costume of your choice for an indoor photography session or at Karuizawa‘s scenic alley!

Because it only costs around 5,000 yen for a one-person session, how about making a different sort of memorable souvenir for yourself?

To enquire and reserve a session, email [email protected].

Karuizawa Photography Studio’s Business Hours and Access Information

  • Karuizawa Photography Studio is open from 10 am to 5 pm from July to September.
    • The studio may close on the day without notice from January to June and October to December.
  • The studio is around a 30-minute walk from Karuizawa Station and a 5 to 10-minute walk from the Kyu Karuizawa bus stop.

Chimoto (ちもと総本店)

Chimoto was opened in the mid-Edo period in Tokyo’s Ginza. But after the shop was burnt down in World War II, it relocated to Karuizawa in 1948.

Chimoto Mochi Rice Cake (ちもと餅) is its signatory confectionary. The rice cake has a fluffy texture similar to a marshmallow and is flavored with black sugar and walnuts. While both ingredients have a strong taste, the resulting confectionery is addictive! If you prefer something more refreshing, the sweets maker also has Yuzu-flavored Chimoto Mochi.

Nowadays, aside from the shop front, Chimoto also has a cafe space serving various traditional desserts and noodle soups. Note that their Uji Kintoki (宇治金時) shaved ice is served differently. Instead of having all the toppings above the ice, only matcha powder is sprinkled. The red bean paste and condensed milk are underneath the shaved ice. So while you can adjust how sweet your shaved ice is by scooping more or less sweet toppings at the bottom, it can be hard to reach the red bean paste and condensed milk in the beginning.

If you want to walk and eat, the Yaki Dango (焼き団子) is perfect. Grilled after applying a layer of less-sweetened soy sauce, the rice cake skewers are just enticing. In addition, there is Soba Dango (そば団子) filled with red bean paste. The dango’s dough is made with buckwheat flour, so the dango has a different texture!

Important: The broth of the noodle soup isn’t vegetarian.

Chimoto’s Business Hours and Access Information

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

Discover the Attractions in Naka-Karuizawa

Click the photo for more information about Naka-Karuizawa’s attractions!

As you must have guessed, Karuizawa Old Ginza Street isn’t the only spot in Karuizawa you might be interested in. In fact, besides the attractions close to the street, Naka-Karuizawa, a station away from JR Karuizawa Station, is gaining popularity! A few cafes and restaurants serve mouthwatering cakes and vegetarian dishes, unordinary but amazing church buildings, hot spring facilities, and even a wild bird sanctuary!

So refer to our article on Naka-Karuizawa to plan your visit!