This post was last updated on February 1st, 2020 at 06:11 pm
When you think about camping you usually think of touring around your own or neighboring countries. Who used to drive with his parents in a camper or with a caravan on those dreadful holidays with a huge amount of traffic in the morning? When camping, you don’t immediately think of Japan. Yet it is indeed possible.
Japan is becoming more popular every year and more and more people are looking for a unique way to discover this country. Camping is such a way. In this blog, we will tell you everything about camping in Japan.
Why Go Camping in Japan?
Why not! Many people don’t know it, but Japan is one of the better countries in the world for camping. It is safe, the weather is often good, the campsites are well maintained, and it is cheap.
Did you know that there are more than 3,000 campsites in Japan?!
Camping in Japan is a unique way to discover the country. Whether you drive a motorcycle with a foldable tent or a (rental) camper. It is a good alternative to hotels and also many times cheaper.
Japan, the Country of Campsites
Most people view Japan as a country with busy cities and neon billboards. That’s why many people forget that you can camp in Japan.
However, Japan is also the land of beautiful mountains, valleys, lakes, and beaches. It is the perfect place to get away from it all on one of their beautiful camping spots.
TIP – Camping in Japan is best done with a car or camper. Not by public transport because many campsites are difficult to reach.
You can even pitch your tent near Mount Fuji. Imagine waking up with this view!
How to Find Campsites in Japan
As mentioned, you will find around 3,000 campsites in Japan. Some are no more than a parking space, others are hidden in the woods. Some paid, others free. But how do you find those campsites?
The biggest “problem” of camping in Japan is finding the campsites. And when you find them, the question is how to get there. Fortunately, the latter has become a lot easier thanks to a very useful tool called maps.me.
Some campsites can be reached by bus, but many campsites are only accessible by car or camper. Many campsites are close to the well-known Japanese hot springs (onsen), in a quiet and well-kept environment.
Camping in Nature or Use Parking Spots
Some campsites are within walking distance of the nearest train station or bus stop. In fact, you can already pitch your tent in a park 5 minutes outside of Tokyo. But these are not really the kind of places where you want to camp in Japan. However, other campsites are far away from civilization. Super nice and very remote, but also difficult to reach.
Camping in Japan is not something you just do. You will have to prepare well. Certainly, if you travel by public transport. In addition, road signs in Japan are not as organized as you would expect from Japan.
The Best Campsites in Japan
Camping in Japan is becoming increasingly popular and with the advent of the internet, it also became much easier. Searching for campsites takes a while and unfortunately, there are few really good sites where campsites are listed.
You can download this handy list with an overview of the most important campsites including costs, opening times, accessibility and facilities.
TIP – The Hatinosu website also has a handy overview of all “free campsites” in Japan. All the yellow dots on the map are campsites.
The Best Campsites in Japan on the Map
I myself know how difficult it can be to make a clear list of a PDF file. That’s why I already did this for you (thank me later!). So below is the overview of most campsites from the PDF list that you can download above.
Not all campsites are on it because some cannot be found. In addition, there are often other campsites in addition to the marked campsites, so check this map carefully!
Camping near Mt. Fuji
Free Camping vs. “Normal” Campsites
In Japan, there are so-called free campsites, which you can also describe as wild camping and the normal campsites that you pay for. Which option you choose is, of course, up to you. Free camping actually comes down to camping on a piece of land. That can be a playground, a city park or whatever. A paid campsite has a bit more luxury and is often in nicer locations.
Free Camping in Japan
Free camping is especially popular in countries such as New Zealand, but it is also possible in Japan, although it is a lot less common here. In Japan, you can’t just put up your tent or camper anywhere like in many Scandinavian countries. Free camping, or wild camping, on public land is actually not allowed and camping on private property requires permission from the landowner.
However… and luckily there is a however 😉
The rules about free camping are not strictly observed. If you are in a tent somewhere in the middle of nowhere that is not allowed, nobody will bother you about it as long as you behave and tidy up your mess. And please don’t forget to do that!
Normal Campsites in Japan
There are a huge number of campsites in Japan. In the list we mentioned earlier you will find the best campsites prepared by the Japan Tourism Board. We recommend using this list as a guide when camping in Japan. We also recommend choosing a “normal” campsite, or paid campsite, as these are often the best campsites in the most beautiful locations.
Urban Camping in Japan
In Japan, you have something called urban camping. As the word suggests, it comes down to sleeping in your tent in a city or densely populated area. That may seem strange, but it is permitted as long as you do not disturb anyone and do not make a mess (again, tidy up!).
TIP – Japan is one of the safest countries in the world and in some areas of Japan it is fairly normal to sleep at train stations, bus stations, banks, etc.
What Does a Campsite in Japan Cost?
What you pay for camping in Japan depends on the campsite where you stay. Most campsites vary in price but expect to pay around 500 to 5,000 yen. Of course, it does make a difference if you come with a small tent or with a 6-person camper.
Count on 500 to 5,000 yen ($4.50 to $45)
Prices can be calculated per pitch or per tent/car/camper. If you want to put several small tents in one place (instead of one large tent), it is worth considering taking one large tent instead of two small ones.
The roads are perfect for driving with your camper
Ccondition of the Campsites in Japan
That depends entirely on where you spend the night. At a campsite of $5 a night you cannot expect to have the best facilities. It is certainly not the case that the most expensive campsites are also the best, but it is a nice guideline.
In general, most campsites in Japan are equipped with all basic facilities such as toilets, showers, running water, covered cooking areas, BBQ and last but not least; electricity. Some campsites offer some extras such as hammocks, tennis courts, playgrounds and even hot springs (onsen).
Many campsites are close to hot springs.
For some facilities, you have to pay extra. Consider electricity or access to the showers. Keep in mind that many Japanese also camp at the weekend. That is why many campsites are set up for short stays, but with the necessary luxury.
Many campsites not only offer places for tents, cars or campers, but also other types of accommodation such as chalets, log cabins, caravans, cottages or bungalows. So you can occasionally trade in your tent for a slightly more luxurious option.
The Best Time to Camp in Japan
The best time to camp in Japan is in the summer. The months of June to September are the hottest so these are also the busiest months. Other good months to camp in Japan are (the end of) April and May. In these months you will be able to see one of the best known natural phenomena in Japan called Sakura, also known as the bloom of the cherry blossoms. During this period, the entire country appears to be turning pink. It is a bit colder but very beautiful!
TIP – Most campsites are closed during the winter
Keep in mind that it can get very busy on campsites (and other accommodations) during the weekend. Making a reservation does not hurt.
Average temperatures and rainfall in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Okinawa