Camping in Japan is a popular leisure activity for both residents and tourists. With many forests and a long coastline, you can easily find beautiful places to pitch a tent. In fact, the country has about 3,000 campsites, including some just outside Tokyo.
Campgrounds are usually called "camp-jo" in Japanese, and campgrounds that allow vehicles to park at tent sites are called "auto camp-jo." It's common for people to tent camp beside their cars.
If roughing it at campgrounds isn't your style, places such as Hoshinoya Fuji near Mount Fuji offer "glamping"—glamorous camping that offers luxury tents (more like cabins) and none of the inconveniences of traditional camping.
Like North American campgrounds, most of the auto camp-jos in Japan offer showers, restrooms, sewer, electricity, and water. Some even have hot springs, tennis courts, dog runs, fishing areas, and children's playgrounds. Many campgrounds also feature a variety of camping gear to buy or rent in case you forget something.
Campsite fees can cost up to several thousand yen a night. However, free and low-cost sites can also be found, which cuts your costs while traveling in this expensive country.
If you want to avoid fees and stay close to the city, you can try urban camping. This allows you to park a camper or pitch a tent anywhere (usually up to 24 hours) in both public and residential areas. Try to pick a more discreet area so as not to be bothered, keep noise to a minimum, leave early the next day and don’t camp in the same spot for more than one night.
When to Book Your Trip
Camping in Japan is popular during summer months (July through August) and on weekends, so early reservations are recommended. Note that many campgrounds are closed in winter. When making reservations, be sure to ask for the check-in and check-out times. If you want to karaoke or bring a pet, check with the campground first.
Where to Camp
Although Japan may be known for its energetic and sprawling cities, the country has gorgeous landscapes and scenery to enjoy just outside the city center. For example, around Tokyo there are many campsites close to a JR train station (meaning you won't have to rent a car). Hikarigaoka Park is one such spot, being a five-minute walk from the metro on the Toei Oedo line. The park has a soccer field, basketball and tennis courts, and an aviary. The Jonanjima Seaside Park, south of Tokyo, also has 1,000 pitches available for campers so you'll have your choice of spots.