2020.10 Glamping in Japanーa Luxury Camping Experience
Wake up to views of Mt. Fuji or the powder snow of Hakuba—discover glamping sites easily accessible from Tokyo
Spending time with friends and family while adhering to social distancing protocols is a common conundrum in 2020. However, one answer to this dilemma is an outdoorsy vacation. Camping remains a popular option; however, a new style of hassle-free camping with the services and amenities of a luxury resort is gaining traction with the modern generation. Discover “glamping” and why it might be the best choice for your next vacation.
Glamping in Japan: the basics
Accommodation in Japan may well conjure up images of futuristic capsule hotels or luxury hotels in skyscrapers. However, beyond the sprawling urban centers of Tokyo and Osaka, the country has vast open green spaces ideal for camping and glamping. Japan’s 34 national parks are spread throughout the country and active travelers can choose to stay in locations with immediate access to forests and mountains, rivers and beaches, therapeutic onsen and, in the winter, peerless powder snow.
A note on safety: Japan’s glamping resorts are doing all they can to ensure guest safety and reduce the risk of coronavirus and other viral infections. The resorts listed in this article have all implemented extensive sanitizing protocols and actively encourage social distancing. All guests are required to wear masks and have their temperature taken upon arrival.
Glamping in Japan. A luxury experience outdoors.
What is glamping?
Glamping is a portmanteau of “glamorous” and “camping.” Glamping sites are fully staffed and furnished, removing the hassle typically associated with regular camping. Glampers don’t need bring sleeping bags, set up their own tent, or prepare their own food.
Glamping facilities are more comfortable than those of traditional camping sites. Photo credit: Happo-one Kaihatsu Co., Ltd. (left) A yurt-style tent. (right)
There is a wide range of glamping sites, each putting its original stamp on the activity. Glampers can choose from various accommodation types, including yurts, teepees, or even futuristic dome-shaped lodgings.
A teepee-style tent. (left) A retro-style camper trailer. (right)
Other glamping options include traditional cottages, camper trailers, and imaginative spaces inspired by airline cabins. These are slightly sturdier than tents and yurts and tend to have more home comforts than their tent-style counterparts. These added comforts make them a popular draw for first-time glampers.
Outdoor lodgings with hotel hospitality
While the style and form of each site might vary, you can expect some glamping fundamentals at every location. There will be a designated sleeping space in each private lodging along with general camping equipment.
Many facilities provide comfortable beds and dining spaces equipped with the necessary furniture and utensils. Bathroom facilities will vary, but lodges and cottage-types are likely to have a shower and toilet. Though less common, some lodgings are fitted with air conditioning, meaning a pleasant camping experience regardless of the outdoor temperature.
Snow Peak Field Suite Hakuba Kitaone Kogen has top-of-the-line suite rooms. Photo credit: Snow Peak FIELD SUITE HAKUBA KITAONE KOGEN (left) Glampers can enjoy French cuisine at Hoshinoya Fuji. Photo credit: Hoshino Resorts (right)
The “glamorous” aspect of glamping is apparent in sites that offer in-lodging dining services. Chefs will prepare the food, and staff will take care of all the preparations before and after the meal.
Some dining options include dinner cooked in front of you by a private chef or a barbecue where guests only need to do the grilling.
When choosing your accommodation, don't forget to research the activities on offer throughout the day. Some of the options available include obstacle courses, hot springs, and hands-on vegetable harvesting experiences.
Glamping experiences close to Tokyo
Glamping has been a feature of Japan’s travel scene since around 2015, with lodgings dotted throughout the country. While some sites are in the country’s far-flung corners, Tokyo-based travelers can also enjoy glamping, as there are several locations within easy reach of the metropolis. The following are a handful of sites within four hours of Tokyo.
Glamping near Mt. Fuji—Hoshinoya style
Hoshinoya Fuji was the first glamping resort in Japan. Its picturesque location overlooking Lake Kawaguchi and the premium hospitality associated with the Hoshinoya Resorts group make it a popular glamping location. This luxurious “highland glamping” facility is situated amongst a red pine forest and offers guests one of Japan’s most treasured views—Mt. Fuji.
Lake Kawaguchi Winter Fireworks is held from mid-January to late February every year. (as of October 2020,organizers have yet to confirm whether the 2021 event will go ahead due to COVID-19 concerns.)
Lake Kawaguchi is one of the Fuji Five Lakes that fan out at the base of the mountain. Fireworks displays over the lake in summer and winter draws large crowds. Other beautiful places to explore nearby include Aokigahara-jukai, an immense forest that grows on a bed of hardened lava from a Mt. Fuji eruption thousands of years ago. Oishi Park on the lake’s north shore is particularly popular in early summer when around 100,000 lavender plants bloom.
All guestrooms overlook Lake Kawaguchi and beyond to Mt. Fuji. Photo credit: Hoshino Resorts
The drive from Tokyo to Hoshinoya Fuji takes around 90 minutes. After arriving at the resort reception, staff provide guests with all necessary glamping equipment before driving them to the cabins. The resort’s 40 compact yet sophisticated cabins are fitted with pristine bathrooms and heated floors. The airy living area and terrace balcony make up around one-third of the cabin space. The large windows and balcony allow guests a close-up view of their surroundings.
Views of Mt. Fuji from the cabin's terrace are one of Hoshinoya Fuji’s most notable features. In autumn, guests can enjoy the colorful foliage that creates a natural patchwork on the mountain slopes.
A view from the terrace during autumn. Photo credit: Hoshino Resorts
While the autumn scenery is beautiful, other seasons bring their own charms. Spring brings cherry blossoms, and the winter, pretty snowscapes. After enjoying the views of the landscape, take advantage of some of the activities only on offer for staying guests. These include early-morning canoeing on Lake Kawaguchi (reservations required).
Canoeing on Lake Kawaguchi. On clear days, Mt. Fuji is reflected in the water. Photo credit: Hoshino Resorts
In the evening, glampers can sit down to some French cuisine with a focus on locally sourced game. Guests of an appropriate age can indulge in a glass of smoky Japanese whisky around the roaring fire on the cloud terrace.
A roaring fire at Cloud Terrace. (left) Guests enjoying dinner in the forest. (right) Both photo credit: Hoshino Resorts
Glamping in Hakuba: home of onsen and powder snow
High up in the Nagano mountains is Snow Peak FIELD SUITE HAKUBA KITAONE KOGEN —a glamping facility in the snow sports mecca of Hakuba. The glamping site’s 1,200 meters (4,921 feet) altitude provides guests with beautiful Northern Alps scenery and plenty of fresh mountain air.
A snowy landscape in Hakuba
Hakuba is located in in the Kitaazumi District of Nagano Prefecture. The village garnered global attention in 1998 when it was a venue for the Nagano Winter Olympics. Since then, it remains a focal point for winter sports enthusiasts who come for high-quality powder snow and relaxing dips in therapeutic onsen like Hakuba Happo Hot Springs.
A glamping site high in the mountains. Photo credit: Snow Peak FIELD SUITE HAKUBA KITAONE KOGEN
At this altitude, glampers can enjoy dramatic scenery throughout the day, from the red beams of the rising sun in the morning to dramatic sunsets in the evening. Once night falls, the sky is blanketed with stars. If the weather is suitable, guests can enjoy an alfresco breakfast with a dramatic mountain backdrop.
There are seven tent types at the Hakuba resort. (left) A hot air balloon experience. (right) Both photo credit: Snow Peak FIELD SUITE HAKUBA KITAONE KOGEN
Active glampers can take a guided hike to altitudes of over 2,000 meters (6,551 feet), followed by a relaxing dip in an outdoor onsen bath where the mineral-rich water is pumped up direct from the source at the foot of the mountain. For a bird’s-eye view of the mountain scenery, reserve a hot air balloon experience.
Enjoying breakfast in the Hakuba mountains. (left) Wandering mountain trails and taking in the mountain air. (right) Both photo credit: Snow Peak FIELD SUITE HAKUBA KITAONE KOGEN
Glamping under starry skies in the woodland expanses of Tochigi Prefecture
Motegi Town in southeastern Tochigi Prefecture is around a two-hour drive from Tokyo. The area is known for its beautiful natural surroundings and Twin Ring Motegi—a high-altitude motorsports racetrack. Glampers looking for premium stargazing should head to the Starry Sky Forest Camping Village, where the clear night sky is one of the main draws.
Irigo Ishibatake Rice Terraces in summer.
During the day, glampers can explore Motegi’s nature. Wander through dense woodland areas, view the pretty Irigo Ishibatake rice terraces, and spend time near the broad Nakagawa River that flows through the town. Combine your nature exploration with fast-paced action at Twin Ring Motegi—a racetrack for two and four-wheeled vehicles—and the nearby theme park. The Starry Sky Forest Camping Village is located within the theme park.
The glamping site at Twin Ring Motegi. Photo credit: Mobilityland Co., Ltd.
The tents at the glamping resort are generously sized and fully equipped with everything you need for a comfortable stay. The site has large green expanses for guests to relax in and explore.
Visitors can choose from three types of tents. Photo credit: Mobilityland Co., Ltd.
In the evening, guests can enjoy a barbecue. The menu is dictated by the seasons and carefully selected by the chef of a nearby hotel. Once the sun goes down, head to the stargazing spot to view the twinkling night sky through a telescope.
Stargazing at the Starry Sky Forest Camping Village. Photo credit: Mobilityland Co., Ltd.
Staff are on hand to explain the constellations and give guests deeper insight into the sky above them. The glamping facility also runs a stargazing tour. Guests can take a bus to a location where the stars seem to shine even brighter. Note that reservations are required for some stargazing experiences.
For your next adventure, discover a new side of Japan through luxurious glamping in the country’s great outdoors.
Main photo credit: Hoshino Resorts
Online reservations. English/simplified Chinese/traditional Chinese available
Snow Peak FIELD SUITE HAKUBA KITAONE KOGEN
Online reservations. English available.
TWIN RING MOTEGI
Online reservations. English available.