I once imagined Japan as just dense, neon-studded cities spliced by trains with people jammed like sausage mince. But Japan also has vast, serene natural spaces. And possibly the world’s best customer service. I wrote this for GaijinPot, Tokyo.
Ever been traumatised pitching a collapsing tent in the rain? Frozen your butt going to the bathroom in the woods? Glamping, aka “glamorous camping” is the gateway to enjoying Japan’s nature hassle-free. Riding this worldwide travel trend, Japan is dotted with glamping spots at iconic locations across the country.
Glamping offers catered, customised experiences for those seeking the outdoors and luxury. Choose your own adventure: invigorating physical activities, exclusive cultural events or just soaking in the scenery. Gourmet meals eaten al fresco are enhanced by the natural environment, like the scents and sounds of the forest or sea. Some retreats also include casual camp areas for the more budget-conscious.
Hidden in a national park, Hoshinoya Fuji in Yamanashi was Japan’s glamping pioneer. It’s still one of the grandest. Modern, minimalist-style cabins overlook Lake Kawaguchi with majestic views of Mount Fuji. The impressive activity roster includes wood chopping, canoeing, horse-riding on private trails or coffee brewing classes.
The Farm in Katori, Chiba, is for gourmands seeking wholesome rural immersion. All food is grown on site. Get hands-on planting vegetables, pat the resident animals and unwind in hot spring baths. Canoe the Ono River through Sarawa town, past Edo and Meiji era traditional wood buildings. Stay in a plush tent or cottage.
The whole family is welcome at Everglades, Ise-shima, Mie. There’s a calendar bursting year-round with seasonally-focused kids’ tours, games and craft workshops. The gigantic campsite features a playground, dog run and hound-friendly cabins. Indulge in a log house on a private lagoon with your own canoe moored in front. Don’t forget to try the area’s famous, delicious shrimp.
Those craving salt air and beach bonfires could try First class Backpackers Inn, Awaji Island, Hyogo, on the Seto Inland Sea. Deck out your deluxe tent with fittings like furniture, grillers and oil lamps. Lavish tipi tents boast carpets and fireplaces. Or relax in a cosy Scandinavian-inspired cottage. Chill out in the campground bar and restaurant.
Unleash your inner pitmaster at cook-your-own-BBQ-themed The Third Park, an urban outdoor oasis in Toyosu, Tokyo. Opt for self-catering or fully-provided meal packages. Rent a space for part of a day or sleep in a stylish tent. Slick designer decor in a city bar is no match for a star-speckled night sky.
Glamping fits Japan like a pair of butler’s gloves. After all, Japan excels in hospitality and attention to detail. From perfectly made beds to thoughtful touches like campfire marshmallows – this is the luxe life.
(Main image: view from Hoshinoya Fuji, Peter and Michelle S)