Monday, May 2, 2016

Spring 2016 Newsletter

IAK Newsletter No.9, Spring of 2016
 Foreign Visitors to Karuizawa
Destinations and their Satisfaction Level

Survey report & improvement proposal Summary

I.     Purpose of report

On February 29, the Tourism Authority of Japan announced that in 2015 the total number of days that foreign visitors lodged in Japan doubled from the previous year.  In Nagano Prefecture, the increase was 45.8%.
In order to take measures for an anticipated further increase in visitors, statistical research was conducted to analyze:
1. Foreign visitors’ overall expectations
2. Areas of satisfaction and/or dissatisfaction 

The report’s purpose is to suggest both short- and mid-term solutions to improve the satisfaction level of visitors to Karuizawa.

II. Statistical data and Survey results

1.    From various surveys taken in Nagano Prefecture in 2015, Karuizawa received the most visitors (including foreign and Japanese visitors). In terms of foreign visitors, Karuizawa was ranked fourth (behind Hakuba, Matsumoto and Nagano City respectively).     

2.    According to the surveys taken in various hotels last autumn, overnight visitors were predominantly from Hong Kong and Taiwan, all aged under 60, with twice as many female than male visitors. Their purpose was sightseeing, in contrast to day-trippers, who primarily come to shop. Over half got their travel information from the Internet, and they came to Karuizawa for one night as part of a longer stay in Japan.

They were pleased with the natural environment, scenery, and friendly atmosphere, but dissatisfied with the lack of directional and information signboards in various languages. They also felt a lack of locations to exchange currency, lack of Wi-Fi and computer-friendly environment, and had some difficulty using public transport.     

When asked whether they would like to visit again or would recommend Karuizawa to friends, 83% answered “Yes”, but overall satisfaction with their stay was lower at 76%.    

3.    Overnight visitors seek a peaceful and relaxing highlands resort atmosphere with clean fresh air. A common complaint concerns the heavy traffic and congestion caused by the lack of convenient public transport. Overnight visitors are looking for qualities quite different from day-tripping shoppers. Karuizawa visitors are predominantly from Greater China and Southeast Asia, looking for shopping opportunities as opposed to the cultural experience sought by Europeans and Americans.

These statistical facts should help Karuizawa residents to consider what kind of image they wish Karuizawa to present to the world as a tourist destination.

III.   How Karuizawa should advance – Improvement proposal

It is clear that both domestic and international visitors feel Karuizawa as a resort should increase in value with slower paced, longer visits.
The first step is to improve the overall infrastructure and decrease dependency on cars while striving for a more relaxing pedestrian and bicycle-friendly environment. Karuizawa should aim to be a more sophisticated, people-friendly town with a good international reputation, whose reputation is evident from increased numbers of repeat visitors on longer stays, rather than just attracting more one-off visitors.

Short-term improvements (within a year or before G7)

  1. Convey more useful information
    Produce cycling maps in English, enhance road signs and information boards for transport and sightseeing spots, display signs for currency exchange locations and shops accepting credit cards, expansion of Wi-Fi in public and private spaces.
  2. Safer environment for visitors
    Safety measures for sidewalks and cycle paths.
  3. Develop barrier-free environment
    Based on the “Disability Discrimination Act” to be implemented in April,
    create a barrier-free environment for everyone.
  4. Eliminate unsightly signs and banners distracting the streetscape
    Maintain Karuizawa’s charm and dignity by toughening regulations to control unsightly media displays
Mid-term improvements (by 2020 Tokyo Olympics & Paralympics)

  1. Eliminate traffic congestion
    Better management of cars driving into the town center, implement “congestion charge”, and improve public transportation.
  2. Landscaping of streets
    Maintenance of sidewalks and benches, maintenance of roadside trees, relocate utility cables underground.
  3. Develop cycling transportation system
    Conveniently located bicycle rental & return spots, bus system that takes you freely between the sites, both with flat fees.
  4. Become the tourist hub of Japan
    Karuizawa is not a so-called “tourist destination”, but because of its geographical and transportation advantages, this town can promote itself as a base camp for visitors traveling to other areas of Japan within the vicinity.


NPO International Association of Karuizawa, supported by local and international volunteers, is working to develop Karuizawa as a true “International Cultural Tourism City”. We value your support and feedback so we may work together for the betterment of Karuizawa and Japan.
IAK Annual General Meeting 2016

IAK members are requested to join in the captioned meeting scheduled as follows:

1. Time & Date: 13:30~15:30  Sun May 15, 2016
2. Venue : IAK office, located on the 2nd floor of Karuizawa Kanko Shinko Center (ex. NTT bldg. at Karuizawa Hon-dori, halfway between Karuizawa Staion and Kyu-Karuizawa )   Park your car at nearby time parking lots as the office building accommodates very few parking spaces. 
3. Agenda: Activities and financial reports 2015 / plans 2016 and re-election of officers.
4. Tea party will follow the Meeting.

For the first time, the meeting will be held at IAK office to offer the members an opportunity to have a look at the facilities and make comments for future activities.
One problem IAK has is 40 out of 190 members are overdue in paying their annual fee. In the past, new participants have offset the deficit. In order to save time and costs, overdue members will be discarded from the IAK member directory after a period of one-year as the Articles of Association stipulates. New rates (¥2,000 /Individual and ¥2,500 /family) are effective as from April 1, 2016. 


Many foreign IAK members participated in the FUREAI MATSURI on September
27th, last fall, sold food and cakes in a tent in the front garden of Chuo-Kominkan and
enjoyed time with many locals.
  Russian Day
Inviting Ms. Tatiana Terashita as a speaker, IAK opened Russian Day on October
4th last year at Chuo-Kominkan. More than 50 participants have enjoyed introduction
 of Russian culture and tasting Russian sweets.
  IAK cooperated in a class at Karuizawa Junior High
IAK has cooperated in one of the classes of interdisciplinary study, “international
exchange class”, for third grade students of the Karuizawa Junior High School on October 14th last year. About ten members including those of Germany, Russia, Pakistan and Brazil have introduced diversity of cultures, and exchanged ideas how Japanese and foreigners collaborate to make Karuizawa better to live.  
About 90 IAK members and guests came to the BONENKAI at SALA Karuizawa
Hotel on December 12th last year. They had an enjoyable time listening to musical
performances, though the quantity of foods was unsatisfactory this time and we
should try to make it better this year.

Member’s Essay

Listening to NHK Asadora theme song (“Paper Plane on 365 days” by AKB48), it reminds me that I enjoyed playing along with Japanese students and locals in Berlin, Dusseldorf, Lille, Paris, London, Manila and Bangkok. What I introduced is origami paper plane. Origami is known worldwide as traditional Japanese paper folding. A French origami  circle in Paris taught me very complicated origami figures.
I enjoy making paper planes that incorporate origami folding techniques which help them fly longer and farther. In learning the sequential steps, it makes our brains more active and our fingers more skillful.With practice, we acquire basic aeronautics skills.
When we fold a piece of paper, it can become a flying object. You'll be surprised how fun it is when it flies higher and further.
I am planning to have origami plane workshop, if you and your friend have interest please contactme. I look forward to folding and flying together.
M. Yagishita
IAK member / International Paper Plane Association, Instructor
 (Mobile: 090-2318-2772, e-mail:

Application of New Membership

IAK welcomes anyone who is interested in voluntary activities to support foreign residents/visitors, promote friendship with them and render service to the town community to improve international circumstances.

( Kind of membership and annual fee)
1. Individual Membership                     ¥2,000/year
2. Family Membership including an applicant   ¥2,500
3. Corporate/Group Membership              ¥10,000
4. Donation Membership                      ¥ 2,000 per unit

( How to apply )
Send your application to by filling the name, the kind of membership, postal & e-mail address, telephone number and remitting annual fee to :
the Yucho Bank account number 00590-2-108934  Karuizawa Kokusai-koryu Kyokai IAK.