19 July, 2016

How much would you pay to camp?

This was our most expensive campsite, but the toilet and
shower facilities weren't so great. The view and grassy site
itself, however were wonderful (aside from the puddle that
arose in the middle of heavy rain and wet our bedding).
I thought today I would add a few extra not-on-the-road thoughts about our trip and camping in Japan general.

First I want to tell you that we counted up how many prefectures (like states) that we drove through or stayed in over the fifteen days, it was 16! That's not bad. Japan has 47, but we don't currently have a plan to drive through or stay in them all, though you never know. I haven't counted how many other prefectures we've been through in the last 16 years, but it's probably about nine others.

I'm curious about how much people would pay to camp in their country. We don't do very rough camping, we always camp in places we can drive to that at least have water and toilets, and preferably showers too. 

When David's looking for a campsite he looks for the above things, as well as the cost, he tries to keep it to ¥3,000 or less per night (that's currently about AU$38). This trip our cheapest campsite was ¥700 per tent per night with ¥100-for-five-minute showers. Our most expensive was ¥5,100 per night with ¥200 for five-minute showers (these ones you could pause and therefore share your shower time).

View from the above campsite.
There are all sorts of variables in campsites in Japan, almost every campsite is different. Some campsites charge per tent and some charge per person. Some do both. It's complicated. One site charged us an extra "tent" fee for putting up our blue awning. Granted, it's as large as another tent, but we ended up only having it up for about half an hour as a storm blew through and we never ended up putting it back up again.

Our last campsite was next to a lovely stream. The campsite
didn't have showers, though.
The view from our first campsite, also our cheapest site.
"Free" camping means no electricity, not no cost, "auto camping" means there's a spot for your car next to your tent (as opposed to possibly a car park some distance away for the free camping), but may not mean electricity.

Some campsites have very small flat spots to set up on (most camping is done in the mountains and obviously flat spots often have to be created). One of the places we were booked in to this time had their "free" campsites up on a hill above the reception area, you could drive up there, unpack and then drive back down to the carpark. The sites up there were tiny, though. Our tent is rather large for this country (officially a 10-man tent, but we've only ever slept five or six in it). We drove up to these sites and looked around but ultimately decided to transfer to an auto campsite that were larger, but also cost more.

The ground upon which you set-up is variable too, we've seen gravel, grass, rocky ground, and dirt. The other option some campsites have is a wooden platform, which doesn't work with our tent.

Moss grows in so many places in this country. I love this wall.
Some campsites charge for showers, four campsites we used this time charged us for showers. One didn't have showers and the other didn't charge. Some had timed showers, others didn't. We've seen ¥100/¥200 for five minutes, but there are more expensive showers out there. David saw one today advertising ¥200 for three minutes. That adds up with a family! 

One thing that seems pretty standard for these campsites that you pay for are "camp kitchens". At the most basic they are sinks with running cold water under a solid roof, and very handy for sheltering under in a storm.

Most campsites don't allow open fires or provide firewood. So we used charcoal that's readily available in hardware stores (and often other stores too) in our portable stove that I wrote about here (with photo).

I don't know how much you'd pay to camp. All I know is that cheap holiday accommodation isn't common in Japan, that's why missionaries usually stay in holiday houses owned by missions. Hotels are expensive (they charge per head here too, not per room). So camping is still cheaper.

Having done two of these camping tours now, we can compare Hokkaido and the Kansai and greater region. Hokkaido is definitely cheaper. We encountered really nice facilities up there for not much price compared to what we got for our yen this time.

Of course the other thing that pushed up the cost of this particular trip was the expressways. Most of them cost, but without them we would have been travelling many  more hours at 40 or 50km/h!

These rocky islands we could see from our campsite on
the island. I said it was our first camp on an island, but was
quickly shot down as boys pointed out that all our camping
in Japan has been done on islands. This one was our smallest
island by far, though, at 47 km square.
No regrets, though. The weather was rotten at times, but at no time did we have to abandon camp. A couple of times boys ended up with wet beds for some of the night, but we were able to dry them out pretty quickly after that. We've not come home especially tired. A little physically tired, perhaps, though it's hard to tell because the weather isn't kind at this time of year and makes you feel tired anyway. It was, as usual, mentally refreshing to get out of our usual routine and focus instead on surviving in less convenient, but more beautiful surroundings.

We've come home with a new appreciation for the simple things in life, like a spider-less toilet across the hall at night, a refrigerator and freezer, and a rain-proof house.

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