Camping is a favorite summer activity in Japan, equally popular between both Japanese and foreigners who want to spend time out of the city with family and friends.
Since even the most basic camping grounds are usually well maintained and offer essential facilities, it is very easy to spend a nice weekend in nature for a reasonable budget. Having some basic knowledge of camping in Japan is useful to understand where to camp, what to expect and what to pack with you.
Camping in Japan: Where To Camp
Most of the campings are immersed in nature: having a car can be very handy and it is recommended especially if planning to stay for more than a couple of nights which easily adds up a lot of camping gear and utensils.
But if you don’t have a driving license or you don’t want to be stuck in traffic, don’t worry, there are definitely some good campings close to train stations – which can be reached with buses or shuttles or that are located at a reasonable walking distance.
Keep in mind that campsites closer to train stations are also the ones that get crowded easily since the access is more convenient.
When to Camp
Summer is definitely the busiest season for camping: August, in particular, is when hard-working Japanese have the chance to take advantage of some days of well-deserved rest and school holidays last from late July through August.
July is usually cursed by the Japanese rainy season – no one wants to go camping when rain is pouring 24/7.
Fees and Facilities
Fees and facilities depend on the campground: some charge per person, some charge a flat fee per tent, but generally speaking, fees can range from a few hundred yen to around a maximum of 1500 yen per person per night. Some cheaper camping sites might charge a small fee to use showers and, if available, coin laundry and drying machines.
There are many free sites scattered around Japan as well, which provide basic facilities such as toilets and sinks for washing up. Many of these free campgrounds are located near hot springs that you can access to have a hot bath or a refreshing shower for a small fee.
You won’t be able to rent anything on these sites, though, so you have to be well equipped!
Follow the Rules
Camping sites will follow strict rules about the separation and recycling of rubbish so make sure to check where and how the trash is collected. In some campgrounds, it might be necessary to bring your own trash back home so be sure not to leave anything behind you.
Avoid being too loud in the evening after a certain hour, with respect to the other people camping next to you.
Lastly, note that in most of the campings it is not allowed to have open fires, so go prepared with the right equipment.
Equipment and Gear Rental
While it is probably best to just invest a bit of money and buy some good quality gear, especially if you plan on making camping your new hobby, there are places in Tokyo that provide camping and hiking gear rental.
If you want to rent a tent, sleeping bags, and basic camping gear you can check out Yamarent or Sora no Shita websites: reservations can be made online and the gear can be either sent to your house or can be picked up at their brick and mortar stores both inside and outside Tokyo.
If you are looking for some more affordable options, check out Maunga, which stores second-hand outdoor gear (shops located in Kichijoji, Mitake, and Okutama).
In addition, many bigger campsites offer tents, sleeping mats, and sleeping bag rental services. Watch out for “tebura plans” (tebura meaning “empty-handed”) as those will include all the necessary gear and equipment for a comfortable stay.
Most places will also provide rental tableware, cooking utensils, and tools for barbecue for an additional fee. Sometimes you can also find charcoal or gas canisters and bottles sold at the camping shop.
With some basic knowledge of camping in Japan, you are all ready to start thinking about your first – or next – camping trip!