Camping in Japan

Hi there,
we’re (2 adults) planning a 6 weeks long vacation this summer in Japan. We are keen campers and have all necessary gear. I was able to find some info on camping grounds, but would appreciate a first-hand account if somebody has it, particularly on camping while trekking, off the beaten path, away from the usual tourist hotspots. We’ll be staying in a mix of hotels/ryokan while in cities, but would like to camp otherwise. The following points are of interest to us:
- how easy/difficult can the camping grounds be reached by public transport and/or car;
- what are the facilities when camping while trekking;
- what are the facilities in national parks;
- anything specific we should bring from Europe;
- is it practical/advisable to purchase food at the huts during trekking or is cooking our own food a good alternative?
- is white gas/naphta available in Japan?

Thank you for your help,
Eva

evk08 27/06/14    AccommodationJapan Link Report

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Hi Eva,

The hotel/ryokan/camping mix should be fun! While I haven’t camped in Japan myself I’ve trekked a bit, and have several friends who’ve tried camping there. They generally had successful experiences, but planning is definitely a big help. It really depends where you go, though, so I can’t give you much specific advice on facilities etc without knowing which part of Japan you’ll be in. For example, anywhere day-trippable from Tokyo is bound to have pretty good facilities, while Hokkaidō has some spectacular expanses of wilderness without much other than stunning views to get you by!

Do bear in mind that free/wild/rough camping is illegal in Japan, so you really should try to find campsites to stay in. There are about 2000 in Japan, so you should be able to manage it with some research!

I’ll answer your points in the order you made them:

-Depends on the campsite, but Japan does generally have an excellent rail network. Most campsites will be in wilder areas away from train stations, but you could hike there after getting a morning train. If you have a Japan Rail Pass (7-day, 14-day or 21-day) or similar, it might save you a lot of money! This 2013 list from the JNTO has some campsites with their prices and how to reach them: http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/rtg/pdf/pg-804.pdf

-Facilities depend on the campsite. Most will be well-equipped with the basics, but don’t expect many extras! You may find some have hot springs and other interesting things going for them, so do try to research the sites and choose the more interesting ones like this. Other than the JNTO list, you could check the Mapple and Hatinosu sites, though they are in Japanese. Also, local tourist information offices will probably be able to help if you want to plan as you go.

-Again, national park facilities depend on the park. Here’s a list of parks offering camping: http://www.world-wildlife-adventures.com/directory/japan/wildlife-parks-by-adventures.asp?adventure=Camping

-Research the area you’re going to to see what’s around. If there’s a big 100-yen shop or superstore nearby you’ll be able to buy almost anything. Definitely make sure you have a good phrasebook though, for essential phrases like ‘insect repellant’…

-In terms of food, it really depends where you are. If you can buy food, definitely give it a go – there’s so much excellent stuff around! I had some delicious konnyaku dumplings on my way up Yamadera which I’ll never forget… That said, you’ll probably have to cook yourself in more remote areas; it’ll be cheaper, too.

-You could try contacting stores like Montbell, Tokyu Hands, Victoria and ICI IShii Sports to see what canisters they have available, to check if they’re what you need. White gas is definitely sold in Japan, though!

I hope this helps! Have a great trip.

Rebecca Hallett 30/06/14    Link Report

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Hi Rebecca,

thank you very much for the info, this is really helpful. I may come back with more specific questions in a week or so, when we’re figured out the travel details ;-)

evk08 01/07/14    Link Report

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No problem, good luck planning the trip!

Rebecca Hallett 01/07/14    Link Report

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