Vegetarian's Japan Guide

The Ultimate Guide to Karuizawa’s Best Hotel – Mampei Hotel

Important: Mampei Hotel is closed for renovations and repair work until 2024’s summer.

Whether you are after an accommodation facility or not, Mampei Hotel (万平ホテル), close to Old Karuizawa Ginza Street, is worth a visit. With its top-quality hospitality, the well-kept hotel, partially Westernized and re-opened in 1894, is still one of the best hotels in Karuizawa. In addition, it is the hotel that John Lennon loved!

Unlike most hotels in Japan, the guestrooms in Mampei Hotel are elegant and spacious. The carefully prepared meals are decent too.

Moreover, Karuizawa’s sightseeing bus, the Red Bus, has a stop in front of the Mampei Hotel. We highly recommend you take it to the Usui Pass Observation Platform for magnificent scenery. It is also where you find the prefectural border line between Gunma and Nagano prefectures!

☛ The hotel is accommodating of diverse dietary requirements. So talk to them in advance if you have any.
☛ Ensure you try out Mampei Hotel’s specially-made Marmalade if you have breakfast there. The marmalade contains a lot of fruit pulp and is so delicious that you will surely want another slice of toast!
☛ Book your stay at the Usui building if you want to enjoy the modern facility but want to experience Mampei Hotel’s traditional vibe.
☛ The room that John Lennon stayed in was Room 128.

When You Are at Mampei Hotel

Even if you aren’t a hotel guest, you are welcome to stroll around the lobby, dine at the café terrace, or drink at the bars. So how about admiring the old but elegant hotel by having lunch or afternoon tea? If you visit the café terrace, be sure to order John Lennon’s favorite combo; an apple pie and a cup of royal milk tea.

If you are a John Lennon fan, remember to stop by Mampei Hotel’s small museum at the back of the lobby. Anyone can enter the room. You will find the piano he played and other historical items used by famous people in the past.

Also, check with the hotel if you can check out Mampei Hotel’s flagship restaurant, Main Dining Room (メインダイニングルーム). It is where you can adore the beautiful Mt. Asama stainless glass painting. The ceiling is special too. The type of ceiling is called Oriage Gōtenjō (折上格天井). It is the top-grade ceiling used in temples and shrines.

If you aren’t able to take a close look at the stainless glass painting in the Main Dining Room, there is another one in the corridor. It depicted a scene of the procession of the feudal lord passing through the Nakasendō in the Edo period and the Karuizawa in the Showa era. The stainless glass painting gives you a good contrast between the two eras.

Lastly, following the small road at the hotel’s car park will lead you to a leafy area called Happy Valley. It is where you can find the villa of Ono Yoko (John Lennon’s wife). But note the villa is not open to the public.

Mampei Hotel’s History

Mampei Hotel was a traditional inn that opened in 1764. Although it was out of business for a while at the beginning of the Meiji period, it was fortunate enough that the owner at the time learnt about Western culture from a Canadian Anglican missionary, Alexander Croft Shaw. So when you visit Mampei Hotel, you can feel Japan’s Westernization since the late 19th century.

The hotel’s oldest wing, the Alps building, was registered as a national tangible cultural property in 2018.

Refer to our article on Karuizawa Shaw Memorial Church for how the inn owner transformed an out-of-the-business inn into a successful hotel. The church was where the inn was before it was relocated to its current location in 1902.

Mampei Hotel’s Access Information

  • Mampei Hotel is a 25-minute walk from Karuizawa Station.
  • From Old Karuizawa Ginza Street, it is around a 10-minute walk.

Discover Other Fascinating Attractions Karuizawa

Click the photo for all the amazing attractions in Karuizawa!

Mampei Hotel isn’t the only must-visit spot in Japan’s best highland resort, Karuizawa. It also has a couple more amazing natural spots. In addition, the traditional township has several Western-style villas, amazingly designed churches, and unique cafes and restaurants awaiting your visit.

So refer to our Guide to Karuizawa article for more attractions to include in your itinerary!