Camping & Auto Camping
You will find a lot of camping sites, if you zoom in on google maps. But you have to be aware that camping means: tent camping and only auto camping sites provide a place for cars as well.
The easiest way to find camping sites is to make a location search in google maps:
Auto camping: オートキャンプ
Another difference is, if you come by camper van you usually pay a tent on top every time! Is is quite common in Japan to bring at least one tent, mostly two, as well as a lot of gear to “survive” the outdoor adventure 🙂
A space for camper van + tent often costs around 5000 Yen, but electricity and shower mostly costs extra!
Who wants to save this money wont have a problem! You can park your car on any official parking area next to the high way or road. You wont be the only one. Often you can meet other campers or bikers with tents here. Especially in Hokkaido!!
If you are lucky the parking area is also nice and calm, but very often it is crowded and loud. the Japanese love to sleep with running car and air condition …
Another nice way is to look for parking areas along less crowded roads. Mainly close to national parks, mountains, lakes and beaches you often will find well prepare spots including toilets and sometimes even showers. And as mentioned before, you probably will not be alone. Sleeping in your car or camper is NOT officially “camping” in Japan, and therefore, compared to tent camping, not forbidden. and because Japan is one of the safest country in the world (excluding natural disasters) you don’t have to be afraid to wake up in an empty car the next morning!
So if you do not like the parking area solution, just find any place near a lake, river or in the woods. Usually nobody will come and complain if you only stay there for one or two nights!
One tip: If you see any sings of tires on the ground of the parking space be aware that the night can get noisy and uncomfortable! It happened to us that at midnight a bunch of young people came to drift with there cars… I did not feel so comfortable that night!
Find some nice spots, where we stayed with our GMC camper…
Haamastuma Beach // Hokkaido
not an official camping ground, but during day time a lot of surfers and campers drove their cars close to the sea. During night time, only some people stay so it is very calm!
During day time you can use the shower at the snack bar at at the beach (200Yen, 5min)
and the toilets are clean and open 24 hours!
Autocamping close to Akabira 滝川丸加高原オートキャンプ // Hokkaido
nice camping ground for cars and tents! The staff is really friendly, but as usual does not speak English. Shower and electricity costs extra, but the toilets are clean and you can use the coin washing machine!
Autocamping in Mount Fuji area // Mt. Tenshigatake
Beautiful camping area in the middle of nowhere, deep in the woods. The owner is an elderly Japanese man, who is a well known person in the region :).
They even have a furo (hot bath) on the camping site and if you go off season it could happen, you have the amping site all for yourself!
Shimoda Parking area // Kisami Ohama Beach
This is not a camping area! But directly next to the Parking is a Camping site called Marine Camping. So you can decide where to stay. Sleeping in the car is not a problem on the parking area, there even are toilets and showers, which you can use. But building up a tent might not be the best idea, due to the close camping site.
Honshu (North-west) うしろはま
豊浦町大字小串後浜 Shimonoseki Camping Ground including Auto-Camping
Nikko // Lake Chuzenji (Parking area)
2428 Chūgūshi, Nikkō-shi, Tochigi-ken
Directly at Lake Chuzenji you have a big parking area, usually not crowded and a good spot to start your hikes around Nikko & Mt. Nantai. You should avoid the Sakura and Koyo main weekends, where anyway Nikko is too busy!
Further helpful Links:
Camping at lake Ahshi // Hakone:
Camping Sites in Japan PDF
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