Guide to Camping in Japan

By Kawai Porter | May 27, 2021 

Are you bored with your daily routine of commuting to work every day then on the weekends staying at home? Then a weekend escape to Japan’s beautiful outdoors is what you need. Camping in Japan can put you in a new environment and break your daily routine. If you want to know more about camping in Japan, this guide will lead you step by step to find the best outdoor camping experience for you to enjoy camping in Japan.

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    Tent

    Camping in Japan

    If you are trying to get away for the weekend, consider camping in Japan’s beautiful outdoors. There are so many options! From a good family getaway in a car to auto camping, from hiking and tent camping in one of Japan's national parks to a luxury camping experience considered “glamping” at a beach resort, Japan has so much to choose from.

    You may be wondering what activities can be done while camping. Camping is a great way to reconnect with friends and family while sitting around a campfire or cooking great meals. If you are a solo camper then fishing or hiking may be appealing to you to see Japan's great nature or observe some majestic wildlife. These activities can also be enjoyed as a group. Water sports are a great way to enjoy Japan’s water features whether you are interested in stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking, there are numerous options to enjoy the water on a hot summer day.

    There are 34 National parks in Japan. While not all of them have camping options, many let you camp in the summer months. The National parks of Japan have great options for hiking, camping, and watersports but they are more focused on camping in a tent.

    If you are more interested in an auto camping experience then one of the private camping sites might be more appealing to you. Private campsites in Japan are closer to Tokyo and you can drive right to them or take public transport to them. These sites offer knowledgeable staff, ready to handle many problems new campers can experience.

    What are the differences between camping in Japan and America?

    Camping in America is a more rugged experience and is not a typical pastime unless you seek it out yourself. You have to purchase all of your own equipment and find a safe campsite. Camping in Japan on the contrary is extremely accessible to all sorts of people no matter your previous camping experience. You do not need to purchase your own equipment in japan as many campsites offer rental of equipment. Another difference is Japanese campsites typically come with amenities including electricity, public toilets, and showers. Japanese campsites are overall more accessible to all people. Japanese campsites also usually provide both cooking equipment and food, this is in contrast to in America where the camper would be in charge of bringing all of their own equipment and food.


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    Camping in Japan

    Auto Camping in Japan

    Auto camping is when you use a car in your camping experience. It is when you drive into a campsite in a car and park the car there and camp overnight. You can sleep in your car or sleep in a tent while auto camping.

    Sleeping in the car vs. a tent - which is better?

    Sleeping in a car is a great option if you do not have a tent. You can drive right into a nice paved auto camping site with many amenities that are not available in a tent camping site. A tent can still be used in auto camping sites and may be better if you have a large group that cannot fit in a car. Sleeping in a tent requires more equipment such as a sleeping pad and sleeping bags that can either be rented or purchased.

    Where do you rent a car or van for auto camping?

    Renting a car in Japan can be done online and is a good option if you wish to camp in an area with infrequent public transportation. Renting online is a great option and all sizes of cars can be done online but it can also be done in person through the top rental agencies being Toyota Rentacar, Nippon Rentacar, Orix Rentacar, or Times Car Rental. Having a Japanese driver's license or an international driver's permit is required to rent a car in Japan. RVs are also available to rent in Japan but there are some differences between RVs and renting cars. Continue reading for more information on RVs.


     

    What about food? Are there cooking facilities at auto camping sites?

    Yes, auto camping sites offer cooking facilities. They usually offer a charcoal grill and an electric grill for cooking to rent. Bringing your own electric cooking equipment is also allowed including a rice cooker. Sometimes, you may need to bring your own food. Many auto camping facilities offer food packages to purchase or you can bring your own food in to cook if you do not wish to purchase the packages available. If you are going to a more remote camping facility then you may need to bring your own food in and purchase before you arrive because grocery stores are not nearby to purchase food. In auto camping sites closer to Tokyo there may be close restaurants or convenience stores so cooking is not required. Be sure your food is stored safely in a cooler to prevent getting any health complications from spoiled food for extended camping trips.

    What kind of amenities are available at auto camping sites?

    Auto camping sites in Japan almost always offer extensive amenities. Normal amenities offered are Showers, public toilets, equipment rentals, and electricity. Some auto camping sites offer convenience stores or grocery stores to buy food there. While Several campsites facilities are included with the cost of renting the campsite for the night others are coin-operated. Most auto camping sites also have strict rules regarding campfires and instead, only charcoal grills are allowed. Be sure to use the waste disposal services offered at auto camping sites and clean up any trash you create during your time using the facilities.

    How much does auto camping cost?

    There are many costs associated with auto camping in japan from the cost to rent a car, the cost of food, the cost of renting equipment, and the cost of the auto camping site itself. The average price for a car rental in Japan varies from the size and quality of the car. The average cost of a smaller car is from 5,000 Yen to 10,000 Yen per day. The cost of renting a van is on average 20,000 Yen per day. Food costs vary based on your own needs and can be done for as little as 500 Yen per person per meal or you can go as extravagant as you want and planning for food should be done before you leave so you know exactly how much it will cost.

    Equipment rentals can vary based on which campsite you go to but on average a tent will cost around 2000 Yen per night and sleeping equipment can be rented for 1000 Yen per night. Cooking equipment is usually included in the cost of renting the campsite which can vary from 400 Yen to 5000 Yen per night depending on if a package including other equipment is wanted. All camping costs in Japan are typically per person per day.


     

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    RV camping - what do I need to know?

    RVs or campers are vehicles that are designed for the ideal camping trip, they usually include a bed to sleep in so you do not need a tent to have a good night's sleep. RVs are not as common in Japan as in America but they can still be found. RV camping sites usually cost more than camping with a car and cost on average 3000-7000 Yen per night. Camping in an RV will cost significantly more than a car but maybe nicer because of the more space offered and the beds in them. Japanese RVs are physically smaller than RVs in America, a key feature present in many American RVs that is not present in Japanese RVs is kitchens. Cooking would then have to be done in the same way for regular auto campers as well. This should also be taken into account before renting one for a weekend getaway. The average cost of renting an RV in Japan is around 9,000 Yen for smaller models to 20,000 Yen for larger models per day.

    What are the best auto camping sites near Tokyo?

    Near Tokyo, auto camping is very common, especially for first-time campers. The Nagatoro Auto Camp is a perfect place for beginners to camp with easy river access and meal packages to cook. It is about a 15-minute walk from Nogami Station on the Chichibu Tetsudo line. The Rising Field Karuizawa facility is a camping site in Nagano prefecture that has a free camping site if you bring your own equipment or a premium option to rent, this campsite has a river and a restaurant at it as well. For a slightly further drive from Tokyo you can go to Pica Fuji Saiko Lake, Yamanashi which is a lake that has luxury auto camping with food and electricity packages with full equipment rental packages available. This campsite has great fishing, kayaking, and cycling.

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    Tent Japan

    Tent Camping in Japan

    While auto camping in Japan is the most popular way to camp, you can also camp without a car in a tent. Tent camping in Japan is a great way to be more immersed in nature than auto camping. Sleeping in a tent is a completely different experience from auto camping. Continue reading to know the differences.

    How do I get to camping sites without a car?

    There are ways to camp in Japan without a car. You can use the public transportation network of trains and busses to get close enough to walk to the campsites. If you are going far away you may consider taking a flight on an airplane. Some of the more remote places may be accessed with taxis if you do not want to rent a car as well. Camping without a car can be more difficult to carry equipment so it may be easier to rent equipment at the site rather than bring your own.

    What camping gear is needed to camp?

    A tent is necessary to camp but some other important equipment to camp with is a sleeping bag and if it is colder out a heated sleeping mat may be useful. Some more equipment necessary to camp is a good raincoat and warm clothes for nights. Bringing enough water is extremely important so a good water bottle is necessary to go camping.

    How do I set up a tent? 

    Tents can be difficult to set up if you are unfamiliar with them. There are three main types of tents used in Japanese campsites. The most common type of tent is called a pop-up tent. These tents are extremely easy to set up and do not have poles. They will usually have a tutorial manual included with the tent but they generally consist of a base tent and a rain fly. First, you put the base tent on the ground and use stakes to secure the tent to the ground. Then you use velcro to attach the rainfly to the tent itself.

    The other type of tent is a traditional pole tent. These have three parts: a base tent, poles, and a rain fly. These tents first you put the base tent on the ground then unfold the poles and put them into the tent usually in an X pattern. Then you attach the rainfly. Pole tents vary based on the model so it is important to follow the tutorial guides that come with the tent. The final type of tent in Japanese campsites is stand-alone permanent tents. These tents are permanently at the campsites and you will not need to do anything to set them up. Permanent tents usually cost more to rent than the other options.

    What is the cost difference between auto camping and tent camping?

    The main difference in costs is the price of a car rental. The cost of a car rental can be from 5,000 Yen to 20,000 Yen depending on which vehicle you rent. However, this has to be compared with the cost of public transit associated with camping without a car. Prices vary depending on how far you have to go.

    Where are the best tent camping sites in Japan?

    You can camp in a tent at any of the auto camping sites mentioned above but some unique sites to only camping in a tent are the Sunayu Camp-jo in Hokkaido which has great beaches on a beach, beautiful nature hikes, and warm hot springs. However, this site is only open from June to September whereas the Tazawako campsite is available all year. The Tazawako campsite in Japan offers tent camping or cabins to rent, but it is located at the foot of Mount Kisokoma with great hiking up to a waterfall or pleasant canoe trip on Lake Tazawako.

    Camping in Japan

    Glamping - "Glamor" Camping in Japan

    What is Glamping? 

    Glamping is camping in luxury. Glamping is a combination of glamor and camping. It involves sleeping in a cabin or bungalow at a traditional campsite or an outdoor resort. Glamping has extremely nice facilities that can rival some of the best hotels and some of the best outdoor activities with knowledgeable guides. You can get all the benefits of camping and enjoy the enchanting nature Japan has to offer without sacrificing the luxury experience of a normal hotel. 

     

    What are the different glamping experiences? 

    Glamping is a great way to experience luxuries while camping but what are the differences between camping in a tent or a car and glamping? The biggest difference is that glamping involves sleeping inside in most situations; some glamping accommodations are in nice outdoor tents though. At all glamping facilities, you sleep in a bed instead of in a sleeping bag or in your car. Glamping usually offers air conditioning or heating depending on the climate. Some glamping facilities even offer wifi. While several of the nicer auto camping or tent camping facilities in Japan offer some creature comforts that in other countries are considered glamping, glamping offers all of the creature comforts you would be used to in a regular hotel.

     

    What are the different glamping accommodations?

    Glamping can have many different accommodation options ranging from bungalows to cabins and even luxury tents. A bungalow is similar to a cabin. They are buildings that are ideal for families and can sleep up to 10 people. In Japan, they usually have tatami mats instead of beds. Bungalows usually do not have kitchens but instead, have outdoor bbq areas for cooking. Cabins are a step up from bungalows; they can usually sleep up to 2 families and some have beds. The biggest difference between bungalows and cabins is that cabins usually have indoor kitchens as opposed to outdoor bbq areas. Some glamping facilities have luxury tents that come equipped with air conditioning, outdoor kitchens, electricity access, and a nice bed.

     

    How do I get to the glamping facilities?

    Glamping facilities are located all over Japan and they can either be driven to or take public transportation to the facility. Some facilities in more remote areas may even offer a transport service from airports or train stations to the accommodation. It is best practice to ask the accommodation before you arrive the best way to get to their facility and if they offer a taxi service from a train station or airport.

     

    Where are the best places to go glamping in Japan? 

    Some of the top Glamping facilities in japan are at campsites that also have auto camping. Some of the most popular glamping packages in Japan are the 3-day Mount Fuji retreat that is a nice getaway located at the foot of Mount Fuji that has great food, nice accommodation in luxury tents, and immersive nature hikes and kayaking expeditions. The Kabuku resort in Mie prefecture offers a seafood-focused glamping experience right on the beach in a luxury tent. This package has amazing seafood as the focus but also boasts all the comforts of a regular hotel and a luxurious hot tub right in nature. This package also has easy access to Strawberry beach and is known as a great romantic getaway. For a great bungalow experience, Tazawako campsite offers glamping packages in bungalows in Akita prefecture. This is the same campground referenced in the tent camping section of this article because it is the same great nature.


     

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    Hiking in Japan

    Activities to do While Camping in Japan

    Is Hiking Worth  it?

    Camping in Japan gives a great opportunity to enjoy the beautiful outdoors Japan has to offer. Hiking is a great way to experience the outdoors. You can see the enchanting landscapes of Japan's national parks or the majestic wildlife in Japan's wilderness. For hiking, you should have a nice sturdy pair of closed-toed shoes in case the trail gets rough and weather-appropriate clothes including proper rain gear, and of course do not forget your water. If you enjoy seeing nature I would definitely say yes hiking is worth it!

     

    What are Activities to do Instead of Hiking?

    If hiking is not your preferred activity while camping, what about a water sport on a lake or river. Canoeing and kayaking are both extremely entertaining options to enjoy water features in japan. Canoeing can be done with a group of people in one boat and is best done on lakes while kayaking is each individual paddling by themselves and can be enjoyed on rivers, lakes, or even in the ocean. Stand-up paddleboarding is also an option. If getting on the water itself is not your fancy then maybe enjoy fishing on the shore just be sure to get any permits you need and know all rules and regulations regarding fishing at your campsite. Many campsites offer rentals on all of these extremely entertaining options. 

     

    How are campfires different in Japan?

    Campfires are an age-old tradition where marshmallows can be roasted and stories can be exchanged, however, in Japan, there are regulations on campfires in many campsites. Be sure to check ahead with your campsite if campfires are allowed. Be sure to practice proper fire safety to not cause a forest fire if you decide to make one. If your campsite does not allow campfires many of the same activities can be enjoyed using a charcoal grill. 


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    Camping in Japan

    Different Campsites in Japan

    Campsites in Japan come in all shapes and sizes. National parks are located all over the country and capture the natural beauty this country has to offer. Natural parks however are usually located outside of the cities and may be hard to get to private campsites that still have beautiful nature but are closer to major cities.

    What are the differences between camping in a National Park and a private campsite? 

    The main difference between National parks and private campsites is the location. Many national parks offer complete camping or glamping packages along with rental opportunities. Some national parks you are not allowed to camp in so be sure to check ahead before you try to camp in one. If you want more information on Japanese national parks check out their website. Private campsites have a lot of differences, some are extremely nice and others are very basic. It is very important to do research before you book a campsite or go camping in Japan. Private campsites have varying regulations, some are more catered to families while others are catered to solo campers and of course you can always check out luxury resorts for glamping experiences.


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    Camping in Japan

    Conclusion

    I hope that this information helped you plan your getaway. Enjoying a drive to one of Japan's auto camping sites for a family to get away or maybe taking a train to a nice campsite and enjoy a tent or even a romantic getaway to a glamping experience are all fun experiences to get away from city life.

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