1. Kamikochi
    Photo: Hgl428/DreamstimeKamikouchi, Nagano
  2. Camping, hiking, trails, nature
    Photo: Minchun Chen/Dreamstime Tateyama mountain range, Toyama

7 most beautiful places to go camping in Japan

Which trails to take and where to pitch your tent for the best natural scenery Japan has to offer

Emma Steen
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Emma Steen
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Enough about glamping – sometimes cushy yurts and catered barbecues don’t quite fit the bill for adventurous people yearning for the sense of freedom the wilderness offers. If you’re the independent type who gets a thrill from pitching tents and rugged mountain treks, we’ve compiled a list of splendid sites for you to bookmark on your next off-road excursion. 

These remote campsites may take a bit of effort to reach, but they offer jaw-dropping views that deserve to be on any nature lover’s bucket list. Some of these trails will require map reading and climbing experience, but if you’re not a seasoned expeditionist, we’ve also got some recommendations where you can just kick back and toast marshmallows without much effort.

RECOMMENDED: The most beautiful autumn destinations in Japan

Got a ¥1,000 bill on hand? This peaceful lakefront features the same view of Mt Fuji depicted on the Japanese banknote. The Koan Camping Ground, which features both tent lots and cabins, doesn’t require any trekking to get to. So you can just pull up with your car, unload your hammock, portable barbecue and whatever other gadgets you’ve got, and set up camp in style. You’ll also have access to proper toilets and a communal kitchen. 

When you’re not grilling sausages by the campsite, you can squeeze into a wetsuit for a freshwater diving or windsurfing lesson, or light up handheld fireworks – an essential summer pastime in Japan – to add some sparkle to your weekend getaway. 

Best time to go: Early spring to late autumn 

Set on the outskirts of the metropolis, Okutama is the perfect outdoor escape for Tokyoites in need of a brief respite from the bustling city. There’s heaps to do in this lush oasis of rivers and waterfalls, from sake tasting and onsen baths to caving and whitewater rafting, so you may as well pack a tent and spend a whole weekend there. 

Book a lot for your tent at the riverside Hikawa Campsite and you can get the full immersive experience by fishing for trout and dozing off to the sound of babbling water. While lots of camping facilities in Japan are strict about having open flames, this place isn’t one of them. Hikawa even sells firewood for ¥500, so you can build an impressive bonfire to toast marshmallows once the sun begins to dip. 

Best time to go: Early spring to late autumn 

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Mt Kita is the second tallest mountain in Japan. At 3,193 metres high, the peak – listed as one of the 100 great mountains of Japan – is not an easy feat to conquer. Make your way to the top, however, and you’ll see a majestic view of Mt Fuji from above the clouds. 

There are a number of trails to ascend the mountain, but the treacherous paths towards the top make it ill-advised for beginners to attempt without a guide. At an elevation of 3,000 metres is the Kitadake no Koya mountain hut, which offers tent space for ¥500 per person as well as basic indoor refuge for those carrying just a sleeping bag (¥8,500 a night).  

When to go: Kitadake no Koya hut is open from late June to early November. Be extra cautious and check weather forecasts before you set out. 

Kamikouchi, Nagano
Photo: Hgl428/Dreamstime

Kamikouchi, Nagano

Surrounded by the Hida Mountains, also called ‘Japan’s Northern Alps’, Kamikouchi is a breathtaking highland valley full of mirror-like lakes and crystal clear rivers. The area becomes particularly popular in autumn, when the seasonal foliage creates a vista of red, yellow and gold. 

There are several campsites dotted along the highland for those who want to make the most of the crisp alpine air and dramatic landscapes. The riverside camp of Konashidaira is just a ten-minute walk from the Kamikouchi bus stop. It even offers equipment rental ranging from cooking pots to sleeping bags, so you can afford to pack light. The tent area operates on a first come, first served basis for those pitching tents outside the busy season (July to August). The on-site cabins, however, require reservations in advance.

If you’d prefer to venture deeper into the valley, take the main route for a rocky, six-hour climb to the Karasawa Cirque. This basin is considered to be one of the best spots in Japan for foliage viewing, so the area is usually filled with dozens of brightly coloured tents from mid-September through late-October. Karasawa Hutte manages the tent area within the cirque, and while tent lots don’t require booking, campers have to register and pay a fee for their spot at the reception (¥2,000 for adults, ¥1,000 for children). 

Best time to go: Early spring to late autumn

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Mt Tateyama, Toyama
Photo: Sora Sagano/Unsplash

Mt Tateyama, Toyama

Along the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine route is the Raichozawa Campsite, where hikers spending the night are treated to a sensational stargazing opportunity with little to obstruct the view of the Milky Way. The campsite is just an hour’s walk from Tateyama’s Murodo Terminal. Tent lots don’t need to be reserved in advance, but there’s a fee of ¥1,000 per adult per night. 

Best time to go: Summer is the most popular time to tour the areas when wild flowers are blooming across the valley. The Raichozawa Campsite is open year-round, but toilets close after November for the remainder of the winter season.

Mt Tsubakuro, Nagano
Photo: Goriyan/Photo AC

Mt Tsubakuro, Nagano

With just one path for both ascending and descending the mountain, Mt Tsubakuro is a good place to start your first high-altitude camping excursion as the straightforward trail eliminates the chances of getting lost. Plus, it doesn’t require any specialist experience. While the trail is well developed, the six-hour-plus hike to the peak of the 2,763-metre-high mountain is a fairly grueling challenge.

If you can’t remember when your last workout was, the steep trek to the top will probably have you muttering expletives under your breath for most of the journey. One look at the sunset from the summit, however, and you’ll instantly forget the struggle and vow to do it all over again. The campsite is parked on the mountain ridge, so you can also catch a celestial view of the sunrise from the comfort of your sleeping bag the next morning. 

The Enzanso Hut, located near the summit, offers indoor accommodation as well as a basic tent site – both require reservations. Toilets are available and provisions like drinking water can be purchased at the lodge. 

Best time to go: The campside hut is open from late April to late November. Due to the high altitude, nighttime at the summit can be frigid even in the middle of summer, so be sure to pack accordingly.

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Daisetsuzan, Hokkaido
Photo: Worapat Maitriwong/Dreamstime

Daisetsuzan, Hokkaido

Daisetsuzan is easily one of the most beautiful national parks in Japan. The area spans a whopping 226,764 hectares, so you’ll want to have a firm handle on map reading and  study the routes carefully before embarking on the pilgrimage. 

The Hakuundake Mountain Hut, which was completely rebuilt in 2020, is an excellent place to stay when exploring the park’s rolling hills and mountain ranges. The hut has a capacity for 25 people to sleep indoors at ¥2,000 per night, while the tent area costs ¥500 per person per night. 

Best time to go: July to end-September

Outdoor adventures near Tokyo

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