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Renting out RVs and Camper Vans in Japan!
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.
Take a Look at the Time Lapse Driving Videos!
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.
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.
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!
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.
~~See you on the road!
Check out the Toyota Grand Hiace RV we rented here!