Karuizawa has long been a popular place for resort weddings in Japan. Along with the historical background of churches and chapels and summer escaping resort houses for high class people from around the world, the beautiful four seasons in the highland environment with tempting cuisines complete the foremost yearning elements.
During early Meiji era, wedding ceremony and reception at hotels were introduced as one of the sophisticated culture at that time. It was a yearn even for upper class people to hold their wedding at a hotel in Karuizawa. In 1957, young Emperor Akihito met his future bride, Empress Michiko, at a tennis court with history. Since then, Karuizawa has become one of the most popular spot for weddings. There are wide varieties of wedding venues and agencies that can help you make your dream wedding come true. We hope you find your favorite and create unforgettable happy wedding memories in Karuizawa.
After The Shaw Memorial Chapel was built many churches and chapels were built in Karuizawa and has become the sacred places for praying devoutly. Among them were built by historically famous architects William Merrell Vories, Antonin Raymond, and Kendrick Kellogg. These historical background led Karuizawa to be the ideal place to vow eternal love. If you are an architecture fan, it is amusing just to visit and take photos. The picture above is the Stone Church (currently run by Hoshino Resort as the Hoshino Wedding Chapel) is by Kendrick Kellogg. Today you can hold your wedding at these historical churches and chapels through wedding agencies.
Karuizawa was cultivated during the Taisho era (1912-25) and it had the most advanced western style culture in Japan. Highest class people from around the world competed each other to visit Karuizawa to escape the summer heat and attend social gatherings. During early Meiji era, wedding ceremony and reception at hotels were introduced as one of the sophisticated culture at that time. It was a yearn even for upper class people to hold their wedding at a hotel in Karuizawa. Today, those essense of welcoming honored guest with hospitality (omotenashi) is inherited by resort hotels.
Many guest houses were built in Karuizawa, the town of churches and chapels. Party at guest houses are privately reserved and the space is exclusive to wedding guests so you can enjoy the private space. Since the venue is usually isolated from others, things are rather more flexible about some things than at hotels and restarurants. Depending on the venue you may also bring your lovley dog with you.
Walking through the greenery during the spring & summer seasons, you will come across many fancy cafes and stylish restaurants. You can enjoy highland harvests by the blessings of nature. Karuizawa can serve you with all sorts of delicious fine cuisines and fulfill your dream with many types of parties as you can imagine. If you prefer to enjoy the feast and have more relaxed time to talk with the guests, more casual party at a restaurant may be ideal rather than a formal grand wedding ceremony at a hotel.
Holding the wedding party in the highland resort Karuizawa surrounded by rich natural environment will provide inner peace for every attendants. You can enjoy and experience the wedding scenes like in some fancy Hollywood movies, except you two are the main star. If you are planning to hold just with your family and relatives, there are private rooms and many small party plans are also available. Please ask the venue for special treatments.
If you are living overseas, you probably already have contract with your local wedding agency. However there are many wedding agencies in Japan and in recent years more and more are preparing to accept foreign couples. Your agency may need additional support from local agencies to better accommodate your needs and desire. Most are Tokyo based companies so they can assist you with wide variety of services. They can also intervene for you with Karuizawa agencies and venues. Above picture is an example by an agency "Karuizawa Wedding" which is based near Karuizawa and has partners in Tokyo. I'm not sure if they support foreign couples at this time. We are currently looking into develop new services fill in the gap.
If you are new to Karuizawa and is looking for general information about weddings and pre-wedding photo shoots, Karuizawa Wedding Association is a great place to start. Though the site is in Japanese, you can contact them in English. It describes the characteristic history of Karuizawa and list of all sorts of assosication members from chapels to party venues can be found. You can also ask about the official town rules and regulations as well.
We truly want you to enjoy and feel the great culture and diverse natural environment of Karuizawa. Many couples come and have their pre-wedding photo shoot in various places, especially during the season when the fresh green leaves sprout and in fall where the colored leaves are exceptionally beautiful. If you are from a southern country where the climate is tropical, you might like the winter season where many shops and trees are decorated with Christmas ornaments and lights. You might be lucky to see some snow too. If you like the highland environment you will definately enjoy the four great sesasons with so many things to appreciate and enjoy.
Whether you are visiting Karuizawa for private vacation or coming over to photo shoot your pre-wedding photos along with your film crew, there are some important notes and precautions to follow in order to avoid unnecessary unpleasant experience and memories. It is also important to ensure your safety and prevent any accidents for both the locals and to you. We certainly don't want you to spoil your precious scene of life. Please appreciate the local culture and have a great experience. Unwantingly, if rules are not followed, you may be fined and or even be arrested by the police depending on the violation.
If you have any concerns or questions please contact the Karuizawa Tourist Association at +81-267-41-3850 (or 0267-41-3850 if you are calling within Japan). Thank you for your understanding and we hope you have a great experience.
It is strictly prohibited by Japanese law to enter railway property in anyway other than boarding the train as a passenger. This includes stepping into the railtracks to take photos. You will be prosecuted and fined. If you are a pro photographer and want to take such photos, make sure to take necessary application procedures. You will need a special permit.
It is prohibited to photo shoot on streets even on small roads. If you desire, you will need to get a special permit by authorities including the local police. You will likely need to hire and position traffic guards for smooth traffic and provide safety. Don't even think of being sneaky. You will immediately be reported to the police by locals and will be fined. You would look like a fool.
Don’t step into any grass fileds. They are either privately owned or is government property which include natural sanctuary where rare alpine plants and flowers grow. It leads to verdant forest where wild birds and other wild life inhabit. Please help preserve the rich ecosystem inhabiting the premises. Let's cherish the beautiful picturesque scenery for the future.
If you plan to photo shoot in front of any shops, make sure to get permission from the shop staffs first. Especially at famous places with many tourists, it is important not to be in the way or occupy the space in any way. Locals don't like people who are nuisance. Be polite and try to keep low profile. Then you will be welcomed with a nice smile and get support.
It is prohibited to photo shoot on vacation house property. It is privately owned and you will be violating the law by tresspassing. There are some eye catching glorious Instagram and Pinterest savvy architectures and it is very tempting but stay out. I'm sure you wouldn't want any strangers intruding your own property in your home country either.
It is prohibited to photo shoot on accommodation properties such as hotels and "ryokan" (Ryokan is a traditional Japanese-style inn that offers an immersive cultural experience) is prohibited. Hotels normally have their own wedding and photo shooting services and is exclusive for their use. Most importantly, quietness and privacy are important factors of Japanese omotenashi to the guests.
Though taking regular photos by guests are typically allowed, photo shooting is another matter. If you'd like to photo shoot at such accommodation facilities including their property make sure to get permission by the representative prior to the visit. You may be restricted to some areas, time, and scenes. Make sure to follow their instructions and most importantly do not disturb or be a nuisance to other guests.
If you want to photo shoot at museums or at any other cultural facilities, please purchase the admission tickets and confirm with the facility staff for photo shooting permission before hand. Even if you do get permission, always follow the facility rules and mind other visitors.
Never touch, lean on, or sit on any display or exhibits. They are not props or gizmos to grace your photo freely. Make great use of the environment and exhibitions with your photo composition techniques. After all, you and your life partner is the main star. Always follow facility rules.
Please follow the opening and closing hours when photo shooting. If you want to shoot before opening hours or on a closing day where no other visitors are around, you will need to go through special channels to get special permission. Normally this does not happen so don't count on it.
Please be considerate and mind other visitors. Though I'm sure during your wedding photo shoot, you are so excited with joy and you'll probably won't see things around you, give a little thought about others too. They also deserve the same great time at that venue.