Accommodation & Overland Camping in Japan


Overland camping in Japan turned out to be very easy but during our nine-month journey across the four main islands, we also had the pleasure of staying elsewhere. In this blog post we’ll share where we found camping spots or other forms of accommodation in Japan.

1. Staying with People

We hospitality of Japanese people has overwhelmed us and we have stayed with a number of people, particularly with the Land Cruiser community. It has been a privilege and we recommend taking up invitations when receiving one.

Read More: Thank You Japan

2. Mountain Huts & Pitching a Ground Tent

On Yakushima Island, a UNESCO biosphere reserve, you are not allowed to free camp in its national park but there are shelters. These huts are very basic but clean and free of charge. July/August are the busiest months of the year. Along the coast, on the other hand, are no shelters so we pitched our tent.

Read More: Hiking on Yakushima Island

3. Overland Camping in Japan

We didn’t rough camp a lot during our first six months in the country:

  1. The weather. Our first months were in late autumn and winter. To keep the Land Cruiser as warm as possible we opted for protected parking lots rather than camping in the wilds.
  2. Even when the weather wasn’t an issue, michi-no-ekis are so convenient (more on that below) that we often didn’t bother searching for ultimate camping spots as we may have done otherwise. Blame these roadside stations: they got us lazy…

Having said that, we feel rough camping isn’t a problem anywhere in this country and we did much more of it in spring, and particularly in summer (Shikoku Island).

This Facebook Group shares information on free camping and free onsens (hot springs).

Travel Guides for Japan

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DK Eyewitness Guides – Japan

Fodor’s Travel Guides – Essential Japan

Lonely Planet Travel Guides – Japan

Products from Amazon

Read More: The Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan

Camping in Japan.

4. Camping at Michi no Ekis – Roadside Stations

About 10 years ago Japan wanted to encourage road travel within Japan. Rest areas did exist along the Express Ways, but people wanted them along the minor roads as well. Lo and behold, the government listened and built them.

These rest areas are parking lots with a public toilet and a shop selling local produce and/or other local foods and/or handicrafts. Some of them sell bentos, a kind of like a set-lunch with rice and several side dishes. Eat it cold or heat it up in the microwave that they will have when selling bentos (or noodle soups).

Read More: Japan’s Michi no Eki Road Stations & Foods to Go in Japan

The michi-no-eki may also have an information counter with brochures and maps about the area.  The rest areas are safe and clean. Unfortunately you can’t count on them having Wi-Fi. Some do, some don’t, some do at intervals (more on Wi-Fi below). You can’t do your laundry here but you will find coin laundries throughout the country.

The michi-no-eki  system has a website on which you can find all locations. The road stations are often mentioned on local paper maps that are available at tourist information places.

While michi-no ekis may not the most inspiring places to camp, they are incredibly convenient and you will find them everywhere (which is why we stopped mentioning many of them on the map below after a couple of weeks on the road).

Women Solo Overlanding

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Going Home to Africa – Dot Bekker

Lois on the Loose – Lois Pryce

I Can I Will, Women Overlanding the World

Products from Amazon

Read More: Why Overlanding in Japan is Fun, Easy, and affordable

5. Camping in Parking Lots of Convenient Stores (Wi-Fi!)

There are different brands of convenient stores, the most common ones being Family Mart, Lawson, and 7 Eleven. Since they are all over the country, I don’t give any specific GPS Waypoints of them. We haven’t spent the night in their parking lots very often but they can be a convenient spot when in need of Wi-Fi.

Lawson offers 5 sessions of maximal 1 hour of free Wi-Fi per day; the 7-Eleven 3 times 1 hour. You have to log in their system and off you go (to prevent having to give your email all the time, download the app Japan Wi-Fi where you register once and when you login here you’re set to go).

Here is an article I wrote about convenience stores in Japan.

All convenient stores have bathrooms, and the coffee at the 7-Eleven and Lawson is affordable and good. So besides michi-no-ekis, parking lots of convenient stores are another good option to spend the night if the scenery isn’t the requirement.

An additional advantage of the 7-Eleven: the ATMs accept foreign credit and debit cards.

Map with GPS Waypoints for Camping in Japan

Let there be no misunderstanding: no, you don’t have to go to these places. No, these are not by definition the best spots. In Japan you will have no problem finding your own places to camp.

We decided to share our GPS Waypoints anyway, for travelers who would like some tips about camping spots which we enjoyed or found practical. Please note that this is always our personal experience.

Read More: Japan Overland Travel Guide

Check it out: the ‘Landcruising Adventure in Japan’ Goodies & Clothing

Fuel Up

Thank you to those who bought us a couple of liters of diesel to support our journey and/or website.

Would you like to do the same?

Inspired? Pin it to your Pinterest Travel Boards

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