This is the first stop of our 1 week self-drive holiday. Well, actually not before making a brief 2 hours stop at the outlet mall at Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza for some quick shopping before heading to our hotel at Hotel Green Plaza, Karuizawa.
From the outlet mall, Hotel Green Plaza is about an hour’s drive away.
On the way if the weather is good, you can actually get a good view of the active volcano, Mount Asama.
It was cloudy this time so we could not get any meaningful pictures.We reached our hotel early evening and quickly settled down to our much anticipated buffet dinner.
There are 3 restaurants to choose from for breakfast.
1. Plaisir : Western and Japanese mix (slightly more western) with kids’ buffet corner
2. Asama : Western and Japanese mix (slightly more Japanese) with kids’ buffet corner
3. C’est La Vie : Uses the area’s highland vegetables, no kids’ corner
We tried the breakfast at both Plaisir and Asama and we always ended up eating more than our stomach can take.
This is actually our second time here and we totally enjoy the food here.
The next day is what the kids have been looking forward to, Karuizawa Toys’ Kingdom (Omocha Oukoku in Japanese).
This place has everything for the young kids, including rides, indoor playrooms and outdoor activities like adventure course, fishing, animal feeding. I would think it is suitable for kids up to around Primary 2 or so.
Rides are not extreme so smaller kids can also have fun. Limited rides but enough for the kids as there are other attractions for them to have fun.
For the adults, the go-cart is fun to enjoy with your kid.
There are a number of themed rooms suitable for all the kids, ranging from Licca house (with lots of Licca dolls), Tomica room (where the kids can play with all the different Tomica trains, cars, tracks available, etc), Diamond Block World (lots of different blocks for kids to use their creativity to build), Action Games room (many different table games), etc.
When the sun is too hot or when it rains, these rooms are great to take a breather from the weather outside (perfect for the parents to rest as well while the kids play).
Enough of indoor games and rides? Not to worry. Here comes the outdoor part.
You can rent a fishing rod for JPY1,400 (about $18). This gives you one rod, a cup of bait and 2 catches.
Depending on which part of the river you are at, it is very easy to catch, good for the kids to try out fishing.
You can catch 2 fish and upon bringing the fish back to the counter, you can get 2 bbq fish (not the same one that you caught).
The bbq fish is super good. The flesh is very soft and together with the salt on it, you just can’t stop eating it.
Apart from using the rod, there are also small pools where kids can use their hands to try and catch the fish.
Good fun for the kids and for them to train their dexterity.
Poor fish though as they are subject to constant anxiety with the kids around trying to catch them.
Animal lovers can also feed the guinea pig, rabbits and ponies.
Just buy a pack of pellets packed in a waffle from the machine nearby.
Pony rides are also available for children to ride on for a small fee.
There is also an outdoor adventure course as well as a 5-storey maze (Athletic Castle) for you to find your way to the top.
If you are staying at Hotel Green Plaza Karuizawa, you can get the Toys’ Kingdom plan which includes free passes that allows you to play most of the activities. Certain activities still require additional fees at the respective stations, like pony ride, fishing, and the coin-operated bumper car rides.
This place is never short on activities, even at night.
They have the traditionan Ennchi or fair for children. There are several game stalls, enough to let the kids have some fun before heading to the onsen and winding down for the day.
In summer, you can also purchase fireworks from the souvenir shop and enjoy your own mini fireworks display.
The shop even lends out lighters for free, to return after use.
From Tokyo, you can take the Shinkansen to Karuizawa station.
From Karuizawa station, there is a shuttle bus that runs to Hotel Green Plaza Karuizawa which takes close to an hour.