The recent sale of the original Karuizawa holiday home of Saburosuke Mitsui (1850-1912) to a buyer from an offshore tax haven has locals worried the historic house may soon be demolished.
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Tokyu Land Corporation has entered into a franchise agreement with Hilton Hotels & Resorts to open Japan’s first Curio Collection by Hilton hotel in Karuizawa.
KYUKARUIZAWA KIKYO, Curio Collection by Hilton is the rebrand of the former Kyu-Karuizawa Hotel that was acquired by Tokyu in March 2017. It is scheduled to re-open in spring of 2018. The 39-year old hotel sits on a 5,800 sqm site located 1.2km north of Karuizawa Station. Almost 90% of the 50 rooms are over 40 sqm (430 sq ft) in size.
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Restaurant and wedding function company, Hiramatsu, has announced plans to open an additional two auberge-style resorts in Karuizawa and Nasu.
Both resorts will have around 30 guest suites and are scheduled to open in 2020. The Karuizawa property is located on a 53,000 sqm site of leased land in Miyota Town, just west of Karuizawa. Annual revenues are forecast to be 1.1 billion Yen (approx. 10 million USD), and the total investment will be around 3 billion Yen (approx. 27 million USD).
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Tokyu Fudosan Holdings has acquired the Kyu-Karuizawa Hotel for an undisclosed price at the end of March. The seller was an offshore company.
Tokyu is expanding into the luxury hotel market in anticipation of growing demand from foreign tourists. They are also planning to open a hotel in Okinawa in a joint venture with NTT Group. The Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island Okinawa is scheduled to open in mid-2018.
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On November 21, Karuizawa Town officials voted to ban the installation of solar farms within the town’s holiday home districts.
Until now, solar farms were allowed on Category I Exclusively Low-Rise Residential zoned land as long as the solar panels were not visible from specified roads. In Karuizawa there are many properties out of view of specified roads, which meant solar farms could legally be permitted in many of the town’s residential resort areas.
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Karuizawa, an upscale summer resort town in Nagano Prefecture, is seeing an increase in both the construction of new hotels and the refurbishment of existing properties. The opening of the Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train line extension in March 2015 has further improved access for tourists, and has attracted the interest of several hoteliers who are planning new projects in the town.
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A 53-year old holiday home in Karuizawa is to be the first prefab home in Japan to receive a heritage listing.
The Yamasaki-Usui Villa was built in 1963 in Karuizawa – a popular mountain resort area in Nagano Prefecture. The single-storey house is part of Sekisui House’s ‘A-Type’ of prefab homes. These homes revolutionised Japan’s home-building industry in the 1960s. The house remains in largely original condition and is said to be the oldest surviving A-type model in the country.
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In an effort to preserve the history of Karuizawa, the town will be introducing a blue plaque scheme similar to those used in the United Kingdom. The signs will be affixed to buildings and homes considered to be of historical importance to the resort town.
The town’s Board of Education has made a list of 100 important buildings, and, with the permission of the property owners, will affix plaques in the next year.
One of the shortlisted historic buildings is the Miyama-so Villa. Built in 1943 for a Japanese businessman, the house was later used as the Legation of Switzerland and was is said to be the place where a telegram was sent in 1945 declaring Japan’s acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration. The house was at risk of being demolished by a previous owner until the town acquired it in 2007 for 210 million Yen.
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The population in Karuizawa has exceeded 20,000 residents for the first time since it received a town status in 1923.
From the 1980s to 1990s, the town’s population hovered at around 15,000 residents, but began to grow again after the opening of the Nagano Shinkansen station shortened the trip to Tokyo to about 70 minutes. The town is estimating that the local population will reach 21,000 by 2022. The population in 1923 was 5,012 residents.
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Over the past year rumours have been circulating that Bill Gates is building a large vacation home in Karuizawa’s Sengataki neighbourhood.
An aerial photo of the construction site shows a large building spanning four levels. Reporters who tried to get photos from the driveway were shooed away by security guards, but neighbours said that the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft was the owner.
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