Tips and Tricks for Camping in Japan

The Importance of Camping in Japan

The Japanese have a very deep appreciation of nature and doing so is deeply rooted in their culture. Many of the ancient Japanese poetry and literature are set on mountainsides, coasts, and rivers. Many artworks features the beauty of nature in Japan. Most of these also exclaim about the beauty of nature – the leaves on the trees, the blooms of spring, the sand in islands, and more.

This deep-rooted love for nature is passed on to later generations of Japanese that even modern residents of today have a great appreciation of nature. This is why camping is a common and popular activity for many families all over Japan.

Best places to camp in Japan

Camping in Japan Free

There are still a number of campsites in Japan that are free of charge. However, officials have seen an increasing problem with garbage and illegal dumping. This is why the government has decided to start asking for fees as a means of maintenance of the park. In fact, camping in Japan is very organized and safe. Reservations must be made ahead in the camp site, there are application forms to be filled up and submitted via fax or e-mail. Getting a reservation in camping grounds can be much harder than booking a hotel. It would be best to contact the campsites for further information.

Camping in Japan National Parks

There are roughly 3,000 campsites all over Japan and the majority of these are located in National Parks. One of the parks which are very popular for camping would be the Shiretoko National Park in Hokkaido. It is known best for being unspoiled and remote which can only be accessed via trekking. For those wanting to camp near Tokyo, the Okutama National Park is the best as it is only about 2 hours away from the city. All these are great for those who enjoy camping near mountains and enjoying mountainous landscapes.

One of the most scenic locations for camping would be the Fuji Five Lakes which is located at the foot of Mount Fuji. There are a number of activities available in this area. For island camping, people can visit the Yagaji island off Okinawa which is known to be a tropical paradise. A lot of people go there to enjoy the white sand and blue waters. It is famous for its shallow, calm waters making it a great place to visit for families. It is also one of the most popular beach camps in the entire country.

Camping in Japan Kanto Region

There are a number of camping grounds all over the Kanto region and most of these ask for minimal fees. One popular camping ground would be in Saitama which is known as the Nagatoro Auto camp-jo. The admission fee costs about 3,000 yen for every five people. One of the cheapest campsites in Kanto region would be the Shobugahama camp-jo in Tochigi prefecture whose charges would be 1,000 yen per person.

Camping in Japan Kansai Region

In the Kansai region, the camping ground fees are much more affordable. For instance, the Kyuka-mura Sanuki Goshikidai camp-jo costs about 500 yen per person. This is located in Kagawa prefecture. Another place would be the Miyazaki Shirahama Auto Camp-jo in Miyazaki prefecture where the fee would be just 1,000 yen per tent.

Camping in Japan during Winter

Normally, people prefer camping in warmer seasons like spring (in months of April and May) and summer (from June to September). This is also the best time to enjoy the rich freshness of mountainsides. The landscapes are prettier and lusher with life. However, there are still some places in Japan where families can go camping even during the fall and winter.

For places up the north like Hokkaido, camping in the cold is very common. However, people usually use camper cars or rental campers because it is much safer than using a tent. Since the temperatures can go down rapidly and unexpectedly, at least heaters from campers can make the surrounding temperatures neutral and freezing inside tents would be avoided. Also, people enjoy the camping trip via camper vans because their destinations are always towards the ski resorts. This is also true in places like Osaka up north.

It is also advisable to enjoy the outdoors during the day and just camp inside hotels at night. There are hazards for sudden snowstorms and avalanches which is why it is much more dangerous to camp during wintertime.

There are also people who go camping in winter to escape the cold of winter. Some campers travel south during the fall and winter seasons to places in Japan with subtropical climates to experience a warmer winter. The temperatures are still cool and dry but at least there would be minimal chances of snow.

Camping in Japan: Outdoor activities

There are a great number of outdoor activities that people can enjoy during camping. For those who have rented camper vans, they can stay on the road and enjoy multiple sites in a number of days. For those who wish to stay in one place, they can enjoy bird watching, sports fishing, hiking, and even watching wildlife. It is an enriching experience for young children because the hustle and bustle of city life can limit their love and affection towards nature.

Guides can be hired as well to provide a full-on tour of the campsite and surrounding areas. Usually, national parks are a great place to camp in which is why guided tours are possible. There are gardens to explore, temples to visit, and shrines to see.

Essential Must Haves in Camping

Camping can be a difficult thing for many people especially for those who are not really used to the experience. But, what are the essentials that a true camper should bring to any camping trip? The first, and most important, would be the camping gear. These are the most important camping essential out of all.

These include checking if the tents are working or need repair. This also includes packing the stove with matches and lighters for cooking. NEVER FORGET THE MATCHES OR THE LIGHTERS. The stove is actually optional, if the camp allows cooking by fire then the only thing to bring would be the lighters and the pans. Also, among the most important would be bringing flashlights and lanterns. This would be helpful for finding things in the dark and giving enough light at night. It might also be advisable to bring in extra batteries in case of emergencies.  

The next essential to bring would be clothing. It is always important to bring clothes which are appropriate for the conditions on site. It might be best to bring in extra layers, in case the early morning temperatures become too cold. For campsites with lakes and rivers, swimwear would be a good thing to bring. Lastly, bringing rainwear will be helpful when camping during the summer time. This ensures a person is kept dry and warm.

Another essential would be bringing in personal items. These include sunscreens and insect repellants – over exposure to the elements would not always be a good thing. Bringing in toiletries is also a must like soaps and toothbrushes. Another thing that must not be forgotten would be the first aid kit that could be used in case of emergencies.

The last thing you should not forget would be garbage essentials – or bags to keep trash in. It is important to remember that people go to campsites to enjoy nature and it is always encouraged to keep it clean, trash-free, and damage-free.

Some Tips for Camping in Japan

Camping in Japan: Bear protection

Not all camping grounds in Japan have abundances of bears, it is only in the mountainside where bears are quite common. Regardless, extra protection from other predators is a must. One way to protect one’s self would be to make noise while walking. Remember, surprised animals tend to become more aggressive. Making noise while hiking is a good way to announce presence and allows the animal to be aware of one’s presence.

Although a lot of people enjoy hiking and camping with their furry pets, a lot of experts actually advise against it. These animals can provoke an attack from larger predators. Always make sure that the camp is safe for pets before making a reservation.

Lastly, and probably the most important would be never approach a wild animal. It is common sense to keep a safe distance and report to rangers immediately of bear sightings. Once a wild animal is sighted, do not run. The animal will think that the person is a prey and immediately attack.

Camp Fees

In Japan, camping is usually a really organized activity and is enjoyed by a number of families and individuals all over the country. The Japanese simply enjoy nature which is why there are a number of campgrounds located all over Japan.

Campgrounds are property located in Japan where the amenities are complete. These have toilets with sewer lines, bathrooms with showers, and more. There are utilities available such as electricity and water. Larger campsites usually have activity areas that have courts, fishing ponds, playgrounds, and more. There are some campsites which are located near onsens as well.

These kinds of campsites have a facility intended for camping gear rental. They have repair shops as well for broken tents and gear. Since the facility inside the property is usually complete, even with security rangers, it is without a doubt that campsite fees are expensive.

Small campsites have fees ranging from 1,000 yen per person to about 3,000 yen. Properties with much more complete facilties can cost 3,000 yen to 7,000 yen; the price depends on what facilities the person chooses to use.

Meals and Food

The most enjoyable part of camping is actually making the meals, which is why it is uncommon to bring in cooked meals to the camping grounds. The best way to go around the meals would be to plan out what would be cooked for specific times of the day. This meal plan will help any camper remember all condiments and tools to be used. It is a good way to note the proportion of the food to bring. Bringing extra just adds to the baggage and leads to spoilage.

Before going camping it might be a good idea to peel and cut vegetables before putting them in airtight bags or containers. The meat must be marinated as well for maximum flavor. The condiments must all be put in small separate containers before putting these all in one bag. All these not only saves space and luggage weight but also saves time while on site.

Urban Camping

Camping in Japan does not come cheap. Several thousand yen can be spent for campgrounds with an impressive facility and complete with toilets, courts, cooking areas, and the like. The gear and the tent alone already costs a few thousand yen. The travel expenses to the camp site can also be very high because a lot of people enjoy going to the mountains and national parks just to camp.

This is why a new trend in Japan has been on the rise for years and this is called Urban Camping. This is a great experience for people who live in cities like Tokyo and Kyoto who have little time and finances to support a full camping trip. This cuts down the travel expense which is already a huge chunk of the camping expense. There are public parks, rooftops, and car parks where people can still enjoy a quiet night’s sleep.

This trend started out when a number of foreign backpackers try to prove that it is possible to have a ridiculously tight budget when traveling to an expensive country like Japan. It is important, however, to make sure that it is allowed to set camp wherever and ask permission from security personnel of the area. This is important because it will make the experience less rude.