Finally, the heat and humidity of the summer have dissipated, and we can all get outside and enjoy the fresh air without losing half our body weight to sweat! This is the perfect time of year to dust off that tent and head out into nature – either with family, friends, or alone – to indulge in some leisurely camping.
However, unlike many countries, Japan does not have general ‘right-to-access’ laws, meaning wild camping is technically illegal unless you have explicit permission from the land owner. That doesn’t mean people don’t do it, but we do not advise you to try for yourself.
Fortunately, catering to the desire of the Japanese to get out into their glorious natural surroundings, there are many camp spots where you can pitch a tent without the fear of being chased off by landowners or the local constabulary.
There are more than a few to check out if you feel like getting ‘in tents’ (get it?) in the Hiroshima area.
There is a good chance you have already been to Miyajima Island, home to the famous Itsukushima Shrine and the virtually tame deer. But did you know it is possible to camp on the island?
On the grounds of Tsutsumigaura Park, there are numerous camping facilities. There is an area in which you can pitch your tent, but should you not want to rough it, you can stay in a cabin with Western-style beds and a functioning kitchen. Coming with a big group? No problem! Some complexes accommodate up to 20 people.
For another island getaway, you may like to try the campsite at Crescent Beach Seaside Park in Fukuyama City. You’ll find it on Tajima Island, on a white sand bay. The best time to go is summer when the marine athletics facilities are open. These include slides and trampolines to get into the water. However, you can go fishing any time of year. Plus, when the weather is a bit cooler, you may find it pleasant to have a bonfire.
Ideal for the autumn when the leaves are beginning to turn, Ikoinomori Park in Higashi Hiroshima makes an excellent base for those who want to walk along the mountain trails or play in the park with their kids. Best of all, it’s free to camp here, although you do need a reservation. Since it’s free, the facilities are limited, but there are bathrooms, barbecue pits, and washing stations.
The first campsite to receive a five-star certification in Chugoku by the Japan Auto Camp Association is Bihoku Auto Village in Shobara City. It is only one of eight in the whole country. The concept here is auto camping — the campsite is just 10 minutes from Chugoku Expressway — but there is an option to book one of the 19 cottages instead of setting up a tent next to your car. You’ll also have use of facilities, including communal kitchens, bathrooms, vending machines, and a pizza oven.
With the tagline of ‘play hard at one of the largest campsites in Hiroshima,’ Ogidani Auto Camp is a campsite that should suit the more adventurous of you down to the groundsheet. Open all year round – even in the snowy season – Ogidani has plenty for the whole family, including zip wires and a forest adventure, streams to splash about in, a mountain bike course, open-air baths, and much more.
It has all the facilities you might require of a camping site, including showers, laundry, and a barbecue. If you want to enjoy a little luxury, several cabins and treehouses are available to rent.
To camp near the Oze River, head to Yasaka Auto Campsite in Otake City, on the border of Hiroshima and Yamaguchi. There’s a strip along the river where visitors can set up their tents (which gives everyone a riverside view) and a couple of other campsites and five cabins. The waters are calm and clean, making this an excellent spot for children to play and for you to go fishing. You can camp overnight or just set up a tent to spend the day by the river.
Hiroshima is a top spot for camping because temperatures are comfortable for much of the year. The range of campsites means you can find something to suit your camping style — perhaps you could take several trips to different spots when you’re in Hiroshima.