Forget glamping – for some people, cozy yurts jazzed up with air conditioning and king-sized beds fitted in Egyptian cotton sort of miss the whole point. Sometimes, you want the thrill of pitching a tent, sleeping on the ground, listening to your favorite tunes, and getting dirty. Lucky for you, there are plenty of splendid destinations for camping in Japan to overflow your bucket list.
Ready to start planning your next road trip?
Your Japanese adventure awaits! But, what to expect?
Every country is a bit different in terms of rules and etiquette regarding camping, so if you’re planning to embark on a camping trip in Japan, you should know what to expect.
How does it work? You cannot pitch a tent just anywhere, but that doesn’t mean you have limited options. On the contrary: you have more than 3,000 public and private sites across Japan. Each is clean and well-maintained, so don’t leave any litter behind. This is a rather strict rule in Japan, and one of the fun facts about living there: everyone must clean up after themselves. In fact, did you know that there are no trash bins in public? Yes, everyone recycles all trash. It’s one of the many interesting things about this country.
But there are more rules to be aware of. For instance, you have to bring or hire a fire pit because campers cannot start their own fire at their camp.
When choosing a season, you can technically go camping all year round. Although, the summer months are the most popular in Japan for this activity, specifically between July and August. So, if that’s when you plan on going, book your spot in advance. More importantly, always make sure to pack appropriately.
As for the prices, they always change, so it’s best to check right before your trip once you pick a campsite you like.
Top destinations for camping in Japan
1. Azuri Beach, Mie
The sensation of sand between your toes, salty air, the colors of the sunrise, and sunsets that titillate your soul. Sounds like your cup of tea? Then, you should consider Azuri Beach in Mie Prefecture the next time you decide to go on a road trip. It’s one of Japan’s finest camping destinations as you’ll find several simple camping grounds alongside the beach with auto-camping sections, camping houses, and bungalows. Find your perfect spot and spend your days at the beach swimming, fishing, and kayaking.
2. Lake Tazawa, Akita
Located just south of Towada-Hachimantai National Park, this scenic caldera lake has been voted one of Japan’s 100 most scenic spots. And, with the colors changing across the water and undeveloped rough nature surrounding, it’s no wonder. Lake Tazawa is a true nature lover’s paradise. It’s worth trekking and cycling, or if you’re traveling with a campervan, make sure to drive along the lakeside before you set up a camp. That’s the perfect way to see the colors changing across the lake. Against the backdrop, there’s the famous golden female statue, The Statue of Tatsuko, which you’ll also get to admire.
Lake Tazawa is the deepest lake in Japan.
3. Lake Motosuko, Shizuoka
Got a ¥1,000 banknote on hand? See the drawing of Mount Fuji? Well, that’s said to be inspired by the next destination on our list of the best destinations for camping in Japan – Lake Motosuko, the deepest of the Fuji Five Lakes (122m). Anywhere from early spring to late autumn is the perfect time to visit and set your tent by the transparent waters of Lake Motosuko. The Koan Camping Ground doesn’t require any trekking to get to. You can pull up with your car or camper, unpack your hammock and portable barbecue, and set up in style.
4. Osaki Nature Park, Nagasaki
Next in line for the best destinations for campers in Japan is Osaki Peacock Park in Nagasaki prefecture. It lies on the top of the Osaki Peninsula in Omura Bay, so it’s surrounded by superb views of the ocean and lush forests. As the name suggests, the park is famous for over 200 birds, including many Indian Peacocks that you can find within its extensive facilities. The calm water of Omura Bay is ideal for marine sports such as kayaking, swimming, or hoverboarding. Finally, depending on your needs and style, you can choose between three types of camping grounds in the park: auto-camping, general camping, and an educational camping ground.
5. Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi
Although not far from Tokyo, the small town of Kawaguchiko isn’t the place one should visit on a day trip. The area abounds in postcard-worthy views that call for a longer stay. There’s Kawaguchi Lake, a gorgeous lake that bears different beauties at different times of the day. During the daytime, the big lake is charming and lively, while at night, it seems mysterious yet inexpressibly alluring. You can see the sky so clearly, twinkling with countless stars. And then there is none other than the spectacular Mount Fuji, peeking from a distance.
It is one of the best camping spots in Japan for those who want to relax, enjoy loads of fun activities, and soak up the magnificent landscape of this place. And there are plenty of camping grounds for all kinds of camping experiences, including auto camping sites and “glamping” accommodations.
6. Tokusagamine, Yamaguchi
Are you planning your adventure for the winter months? Then, Tokusagamine in Yamaguchi Prefecture may be the place for you. The high mountain area is perfect for skiing and snowboarding. However, it is still open during the summer months for those who are into hiking, biking, and camping. Mountain bikers will love the thrill of these tracks, and the view from the top is exceptional, making the trip to this remote area very much worth it. You can set up camp in the famous Tokusagamine Wood park, where you can choose between tents, huts, and cabins.
7. Tenkawa, Nara
The village of Tenkawa is regarded as a nexus of spiritual power. This is where Shugendo, the mountain religion, originated and flourished, with Mount Omine as the center of ascetic religious practices and a fantastic area to explore. Tenkawa is also the name of the river that runs right through the village. Here, you can pay a visit to a shrine to Benzaiten, the goddess of water. Despite its secluded location, Tenkawa Daibenzaiten Shrine draws many rich and famous visitors, creating a buzz in itself. Next, the area is a perfect jump-off point for trekking, and after a long day of hiking, you can treat yourself to a soak in a secluded hot spring.
Where to stay? For starters, you can choose one of the area’s ryokan. But if you prefer the bare-bone camping experience, there are plenty of camping grounds. Auto-camping Tochio is one example people like for its bungalows, tents, and proximity to a beautiful emerald green mountain stream.
8. Kuju Highland, Oita
Kuju Highland is near one of the largest active volcanoes in the world, Mount Aso. It’s one of the best destinations for camping in Japan, especially since it offers tired city dwellers a chance to escape the hustle and bustle. The spectacular views of wide-open grassy plains, flora, fauna and beautiful mountain slopes are revitalizing. You can decide to camp in the middle of the beautiful grassland on the Kuju Kogen Soumi Campsite. If you’ve brought your tent, you can try the Bogatsuru Campground, which is free for anyone to use.
These have been our top eight picks of the best destinations for camping in Japan. Which one will you visit first?