I recently ran away from home for three days. I packed up my car, went to work, and as soon as I clocked out, I hit the road and drove out to the other end of the province where the mosquitos were fat and phone reception was scarce.
Because sometimes, we just need to give ourselves a little space to breathe.
Even if you’re not one of the masses overwhelmed by school, work, chores, family, friends, social media, or the never-ending rabbit hole we call the internet, it’s nice to get away into nature to relax and disconnect for some much needed fresh air. After I came back from my trip, I found myself thinking about how camping is an ingrained part of North American culture. Then I thought back to when I lived in Korea where no one seemed to camp for fun or to get away from city life and wondered if Seoul’s lack of love for camping was the norm across Asia.
I was pleasantly surprised to find an abundance of travel information specifically centred around camping in Japan. If you’re anything like me and prefer the great outdoors to concrete jungles, then you may find something that piques your interest in this article.
The biggest difference between hotel accommodations and making your own accommodations in the wilderness is price. For instance, a hotel in Hokkaido averages $200 a night but this campground in Hokkaido (for example), minutes away from a railway station, can be rented for $4 per night. So not only is it significantly cheaper in terms of sleeping arrangements, you also get to be blessed with the beautiful wonders of nature!
Slumming it in a tent isn’t your style? Most campgrounds offer mini-bungalows or cabins for your stay which can range anywhere from $20 USD to as high as $158 USD. The average, however, is closer to $20-$35 USD which means you’ll still have enough money to splurge on some delicious sushi (although these tend to fill up fast so plan ahead).
If a cabin is still too plain to your liking, you can also check out glamping, a new trend that has appeared in recent years in North America and that has spread to Asia.
Hoshinoya Fuji claims to be the first glamping site in Japan, and honestly, even the website is breathtaking. Although the price range is about the same as a hotel, you could never get the same views or closeness with nature. They’ve grown popular enough in recent years that they now have several locations across Japan!
The thing is, that even if you impulsively jump into your car and drive off into the sunset, you still need to plan ahead.
- Are you camping in a tent or a cabin? Make sure to have a set of linens with you depending on the weather.
- Are you planning on traveling? In other words, are you going to need a rail pass.
- How long are you planning to be away? Potable water would be easy to get your hands on, but you may need to consider solid bars of laundry soap to wash your clothes.
- Since you’re camping, packing lightly and efficiently is key. Only bring the bare minimum of what you need, and only in small packages when possible (ie, leave your jumbo bottles of shampoo and large array of cosmetics or soaps at home). Most luxuries found at home can be purchased at reasonable prices in Japan.
- Although a vital tool for camping in North America, your multi-purpose knives should never follow you on the plane. Leave it at home and avoid treacherous camping excursions that would otherwise require sharp tools.
➾ Incidentally, a good-sized length of rope is always a very practical thing to have around, and not just as a clothesline.
➾ Unless, of course, you’re planning to scale a mountain. Check with your airline to see what their guidelines and regulations are on the various tools you’ll need for hiking and mountain-climbing.
And finally, make sure to have a list of key contacts you can call in case of an emergency, such as what to call for an ambulance or who to call if you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere on a hike.
As always, before any trip, do your research.
Where can I go?
Now you get to peruse the numerous options before you. The world is your oyster, and camping in Japan happens to be a more wallet-friendly way to explore it with insanely gorgeous views of nature.
Here’s a list of Japanese prefectures and where you can find reputable campgrounds!