Camping is a great way to experience the outdoors in an authentic fashion. Camping is a popular pastime for those wanting to escape the crowded neon-lit urban areas of Japan. With an abundance of parks, beaches, mountains, and forests surrounding its cities, Kansai offers many natural delights to campers. You can find free camping options as well as paid campsites with all the on-site facilities you’d expect (costing anything from 500-3,000 yen). There are also many auto campsites where you can drive to and pitch up your tent next to your vehicle. Here is a selection of the best camping options across the region.
This beautiful hidden away park in Osaka city features a children’s forest, a swimming pool, and botanical gardens. The campsite is open from March to November and is free to use. The BBQ area and on-site restrooms are free to use, however camping and BBQ equipment need to be rented if you don’t bring your own. It’s a popular venue during the summer months, so advanced booking is recommended.
If you’re looking for something desolate and picturesque, the Tomagashima camp is well worth investigating. Tomagashima is a group of sparsely populated islands off the coast of Wakayama, with the Okinoshima island home to campsites surrounded by the ruins of an abandoned wartime military site. The campground is free, and you don’t need to book, but check ahead that the ferry to the island is running, and bring provisions as there is not much on the island other than a small guesthouse with a restaurant. You can rent a charcoal grill for BBQs, take a swim at the beach and even start an open fire for that traditional campsite vibe.
Address: Miyama, Wakayama Prefecture 640-0102
GRAX, in Kyoto’s mountainous Rurikei district, offers a more luxurious “glamping” experience. This onsen town provides a selection of tents, trailers, and bungalows for rent. As well as the local hot springs, facilities include a cafe, a swimming pool, and a range of activities, including marshmallow roasting. You can also pay for the provision of meals, like Japanese curry.
Located close to the “Bridge In Heaven” pine-covered sandbar – considered one of Japan’s most delightful natural wonders – the Amanohashidate campsite offers auto camping for 1,000 yen a night. The site is 10 minutes from the train station and within walking distance of the beach. There are hot showers as well as a nearby onsen, for a fee for, but there is no rental equipment at the campsite, so make sure you bring what you need. The site is open from April to November each year.
Address: 542 Monju Miyazu, Kyoto Prefecture 626-0001
Another splendid Wakayama camping option, situated on the Kumano Kodo trail, Grampus Shirahama, has a range of camping options including auto camping and on-site accommodation, including yurts and lodges. You’ll have access to a beach layered with pristine imported Australian sand (Shirahama means “white sand” in Japanese) as well as onsen facilities. BBQ facilities and camping equipment are available to rent on the site.