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Renting out RVs and Camper Vans in Japan!

camper van girls

It’s a dreamy luxury at your fingertips…right in Japan! Camp-in-Car is a Japanese company that specializes in renting out RVs and camper vans to locals and tourists alike. With top of the notch service quality and perks, this is a great way to see parts of Japan that aren’t in your typical guidebook.

The company has all different kinds of campers from buses to trailers. There are 30 campers to choose from, though some may have limited access due to your location. Capacity ranges anywhere from two people to ten, and many are in the five to eight people range (what a party!). They are all spacious enough to fit and sleep passengers, and store all your belongings, too. The one we rented for the weekend was the Toyota Grand Hiace RV, which fit all six of us comfortably and slept four of us for the night.

Our camper was equipped with a sink and fridge, dining table and couches (that turned into a bed), storage space, an overhead cover, and indoor and outdoor lights to sustain us through our late night camp chats. If the equipment provided inside the vehicle isn’t enough, Camp-in-Car also rents out additional gear like camping chairs, BBQ pits, and tables for steal deal prices.

Booking one is super simple through their availability calendar (or phone call, if you prefer), and there are discounts for longer rentals.

upper bed camper van

The upper bed of the van will fit two, maybe another small person or child. If you’re taller than 5″5′, beware of dangling feet! [image source]

dining in the camper van

The dining table is a great place for conversation, a game of cards, or eating your meals. It easily comes off to be turned into a bed! [image source]

camper van bed

This lower bed was big enough to sleep two of my friends. It’s easy to assemble and the cushions are comfortable! Hannah woke up fresh, and just as happy as when she went to bed.

camper van kitchen area

The camper van does not come with the extra amenities shown here, we brought a kettle along with us. The sink works perfectly! [image source]

fridge in camper van

Thank goodness for this fridge – we kept our drinks and breakfast goodies cold in here. The fridge can run 6-7 hours without having the turn on the car for extra battery. [image source]

Take a Look at the Time Lapse Driving Videos! 

Driving over the Rainbow Bridge & Driving in the Countryside

goat and RV

A pit stop for ice cream with our goat friend!

The Japanese Hospitality…and Cute Little Notes!

If you know a thing or two about Japanese hospitality (omotenashi), you know that it exists everywhere. Camp-in-Car is no exception to the truth! What’s so amazing about this company is that they will deliver the vehicle to you, right to your front door. Whether that be at an AirBnB, your hotel, your apartment, wherever, for a very small fee (¥1000-¥2000 depending on your location). You can wake up to find your camper parked and ready for adventure. Even though I live in super central Tokyo, Mr. Katayama (who also speaks English, phew!), met me in front of my apartment to run through the use of the camper and answer any questions I had. He was also on call if I ever needed help during my adventure.

Another gushingly cute and very “Japanese” aspect of Camp-in-Car campers are the cute notes for clients that are posted inside the vehicle. I found a note next to the driving wheel that read “Have a fun and safe journey!” and another one above the bed head which read, “Please sleep soundly and peacefully.” How caring of a way to make the experience more personable.

camper van notes

The notes posted around the camper

camper van notes

The campers are also all equipped with high-tech GPS systems, though sadly, as of now they are all operated in Japanese. This should be changing in the coming months, though, so be sure to ask! We were able to get by using the GPS with our limited Japanese and it came in handy for navigating the streets (way better than Google Maps) and even locate supermarkets and gas stations nearest to us. There is also a rear view video camera by the driver, so I could back up with no fear of running into things (or people!).

All campers also have a slot for ETC cards, a highway toll card that cuts highway costs as much as a third of the price paying in cash at stops. However, if you want to use an ETC (Electronic Toll Card) card for the campers, you’ll have the bring your own. The unfortunate loophole with this is, ETC cards aren’t available for tourists or temporary purchase in the same way train passes are in Japan. If you know someone who lives here and has one (like I did), hopefully they can lend it to you for your camping trip! On the other hand, if you live in Japan and have a Japanese banking system with one of the ETC partners, you’ll be able to apply for one (like a credit card), which will save you so much time and money.

Driving ETC

A typical stop through the ETC/paying line

By the way, This was My First Time Driving in Japan…

…and we are all back in one, happy, sun burnt piece! I’ve been driving in the United States (big cities and rural places) ever since I got my license as a teenager. But here, the driver seat and driving road are both on the opposite sides as my home country. So, I was naturally nervous, driving in Japan for the first time, starting off in Tokyo, and in the largest vehicle I’ve ever driven (imagine: little girl x big city x big car!). Surprisingly enough, the car was so easy and comfortable to navigate, and the backup camera did wonders to help out, too! Luckily, Japan is full of courteous and cautious drivers who follow the rules, and it’s nothing like what I’ve experienced in countries like Thailand or Indonesia (just to name a few…). If you’re used to driving in the United States or wherever you’re from, driving in Japan should come to you with just as much ease!

Fill Up on Smiles, Even at the End

The camper is delivered with a full tank of gas, and Camp-in-Car naturally asks for it back with a full tank of gas. To my surprise and astonishment, this big hunky car got us to Chiba and back (with many, many wrong turns and retracing our steps) using up only about a third of the tank. These campers get good mileage for how big they are! When we stopped to get gas near my apartment, I was struck again by the kind Japanese hospitality. You may not be used to attendants filling up your car tank for you, unless you come from a weird state (ahem, Oregon) like me. But here it’s the norm, though there are some places outside of the city where you can do it yourself. I sat in my driver seat as the nice attendant filled my request and even took out the trash from the camper for us. It’s the little signs of care like this that makes the driving experience in Japan more enjoyable!

gas station stop

Filling up on gas, with my new balloon friends I won at the campgrounds

When we got back to my apartment, Mr. Katayama was waiting for us so he could drive the camper back. This pick-up/drop-off service really saved us time and sore muscles from having to carry back our luggage and camping gear on the train.

You’ll find that everywhere you go in Japan, you’ll experience unforgettable kindness and care, and the now trending #vanlife is one of those communities in Japan. Moving around in a camper for the weekend showed us a different side of Japan – one filled with adventures and nature that are often missed by city people like myself. Traveling on wheels can take you to new places unreachable by trains, and at more of your own pace. Camp-in-Car rentals are affordable (no more than staying in a hotel or ryokan) and a fun, unique way to spend some time in Japan.


rice fields in Chiba is widely spreading

Roman No Mori autocamp

Our peaceful camping spot

~~See you on the road!

Camp-in-Car website here

Check out the Toyota Grand Hiace RV we rented here!

camping group

Nina Cataldo

Nina Cataldo

Nina is a professional and recreational writer currently exploring her motherland of Japan. When she's not busy working on her conversational English book series, she can be spotted biking around Tokyo to indulge in delicious food and attempting to snuggle with kitties at cat cafés. She's an odd collector of free brochures from travel counters, always looking for the next exciting destination. Nina often likes to escape the Tokyo city life to go discover new trails on the outbacks of Japan, where she enjoys connecting with locals and wanderers alike. Follow her adventures on Instagram @nextstop_nina

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