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Karuizawa: Host of Curling Events

Karuizawa, a town on the eastern edge of Nagano Prefecture, will host curling events during the Nagano Games. Karuizawa is located on a plateau about 1,000 meters (about 3,300 feet) above sea level, extending southeast from 2,568-meter (8,426-foot) Mt. Asama.

Karuizawa is probably Japan's best-known summer resort. Even when most of the nation is sweltering in 30-degree Celsius (86-degree Fahrenheit) heat, temperatures in Karuizawa are usually much cooler, hovering around 20 degrees C (68 degrees F). It is a thickly forested area where Japanese beech, oak, and larch grow in abundance. An English missionary was so impressed by the beautiful scenery there in the 1880s that he built a vacation home. His glowing descriptions of the district prompted many others to follow suit.

Karuizawa is only 140 kilometers (90 miles) away from Tokyo, the nation's capital, and is visited by around 8 million people every year. It has plenty of facilities for people to enjoy golf, tennis, and other sports. It was on the tennis courts of Karuizawa that romance between Emperor Akihito (who was then the Crown Prince) and Michiko Shoda blossomed, eventually leading to their marriage.

Although it doesn't snow much, it gets really cold´┐Żsometimes as cold as minus 18 degrees C (0 degrees F). So ice skating is very popular around Karuizawa, and the town has hosted skating World Championships and World Cup competitions.

Karuizawa also played host to equestrian (horse-riding) events during the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, and so when the curling competition is held there during the Nagano Games, this will make Karuizawa the first place in the world to have hosted both Summer and Winter Olympic events.

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