Japan is a magical country and there are few better ways to experience it than by getting up close and personal with the beautiful, diverse, and serene landscape. Of course, not all of us like the idea of roughing it outdoors and that’s where glamping comes in. All the natural wonder of camping combined with the luxury and convenience of a hotel. In this guide, we’ll tell you more about this popular phenomenon, glamping destinations in Japan, and how best to get around with the Japan Rail Pass for unlimited travel on Japan’s great value and super-efficient rail network.
In short, glamping is a portmanteau of the words ‘glamorous’ and ‘camping’. It describes camping style accommodation that comes with luxuries you would normally associate with a five-star resort or hotel. Just picture tents with air conditioning, heating, onsen hot tubs, even room service! The appeal is that you bring together the beauty of being close to nature - i.e., sleeping under the stars - with all the amenities and luxurious of the very best accommodation. While glamping is a relatively new phenomenon, it is increasingly popular all over the world and Japan is no exception.
Ultimately, glamping in Japan is like glamping in other countries albeit with a very important and added bonus - you’re in Japan and there’s nowhere else in the world quite like it. Shaped by millions of years of volcanic activity, river flooding and tectonic shifts, the archipelago of Japan encompasses a diverse range of climates, from the icy north of Hokkaido to the sub-tropical southern islands. As a result, Japan truly has one of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes in the world - ranging from mountains, forests, and wetlands, to beaches, subtropics, and underwater worlds. Where else could you combine glamping in a winter ski resort (with onsen hot springs naturally) or holiday under the stairs on a white-sand or even go glamping in a green space in a futuristic mega city - all on one trip?! For more on Japan’s geography and regions, read our Guide to the Regions of Japan. Glamping in Japan does have a few unique rules to be aware of and you can find a summary of these in our section on camping further below.
As you’d expect in a beautiful country like Japan, there’s no shortage of stunning locations to go glamping. Let’s take a look:
- PICA Fujiyama, Mt. Fuji
Where else could we start than at Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji? There are a number of in-demand glamping resorts in this beautiful area and it’s easy to see why with lush greenery, serene lakes, and of course, unforgettable views of Mt. Fuji in the distance. PICA Fujiyama glamping resort is ideal if you’re the active, outdoors type. It’s not only secluded, relaxing, and beautiful, but if you fancy getting the adrenaline flowing it’s close to the highest starting point for climbing Fuji itself and the resort also offers a wide range of activities such as paragliding, kayaking, cooking, pottery, and much more. Another option in the same area is Glamping Resort Valerie in Kawaguchiko or Mt. Shakushi Gateway Camp, also in the area.
To travel to the Fuji Five Lakes from Tokyo, using your JR Pass, simply take the JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo and get off at Otsuki Station. From there, you’ll need to use the Fujikyu Railway Line to reach Kawaguchiko Station, the best place to start exploring the area. It’s important to understand that only the JR Tokyo Wide Pass covers this entire route, while the JR Pass only covers up to Otsuki Station. For more on this incredibly beautiful and always popular area read our Travellers Guide to the Fuji Five Lakes, while for a more in-depth insight into Mt. Fuji for climbers read our comprehensive guide to climbing and hiking.
2. Alps Base, Nagano
Featuring dome-shaped glamping pods by Joga Pond in Iijima, in the stunning Japanese Alps, this resort is perfect for those who want to get as close as possible with nature (while holding onto a few luxuries!). With saunas, bonfires, paddle-boarding, and more, relaxing is the name of the game in this mountainous glamping resort. The Japanese Alps are famous for some of the country’s greenest and most spectacular scenery. For more read our Kamikochi: travel and access guide for more.
3. Tokachi Wakka no Mori
Northern Hokkaido has long since been a favourite destination of those looking to experience a different side of Japan as well as those seeking peace, quiet, and an off-the-grid style holiday. Tokachi Wakka no Mori is snowy Hokkaido’s first glamping resort and is located in the gorgeous Wakka Forest. Read our Hokkaido Train Itinerary with the JR Pass for a dedicated guide to travelling to and exploring this wild northern region.
4. The Bamboo Forest
A unique glamping resort inside (yes, inside) a zoo, The Bamboo Forest in Chiba, makes for an unforgettable family holiday with illuminated dome tents, treehouses, and more, surrounded by towering bamboo and towering animals such as giraffes!
Stylish tents, domes, cabins, yurts, and more await you at Grax resort and spa in Nantan City, Kyoto. In total, there are nine different types of glamping accommodation here. They also offer a library with more than 10,000 books to choose from and cosy, luxury reading nooks and pods. Ideal for literary lovers. The spa also features a wide range of onsen types from herbal steam sessions to bedrock and rice bran baths.
6. Myogi Green Hotel
Mount Myogi near Nagano Prefecture is considered to be one of Japan’s ‘three best views’ and Myogi Green Hotel offers a mountainous glamping resort that combines beautiful views with hotel amenities. There’s a golf course on the grounds if you’re the sporting type and you’ll find a number of walking and hiking trails to enjoy too as well as the nearby Gunma Safari Park and Myogi Shrine.
7. Retour Kyoto
While many glamping sites feature familiar domes or tents (albeit in a luxurious style), this site on the Oi River near Kyoto features luxury villas with in-room onsens, surrounded by cherry blossom trees, a nature reserve, and small shrines - it’s as peaceful and beautiful as it is family friendly. They also serve Kyoto Wagyu beef if you’re a food lover! You’ll find Retour in Ukyo Ward, Kyoto.
8. The Farm, Chiba
Pick fresh fruit and vegetables down on the farm, enjoy this same produce in the form of delicious meals cooked on site, and stay in luxury cottages with private saunas and hot springs at this resort in Chiba, which is aptly named The Farm! It’s definitely one to file under ‘unique experiences’!
9. Inn The Park
Easily the most eye-catching choice on our list, Inn The Park offers unique accommodation in the form of spherical tents floating about the forest floor in Numazu, Shizuoka - can you get more luxurious and different? You’ll also be very well catered for in your stunning tents with local craft beer on the menu and a six-course Japanese dinner service. You can also reach Shizuoka using your Japan Rail Pass using the stylish (and fast) Hikari Shinkansen ‘bullet train’.
10. La-gom, Shizuoka
How would you like to be lulled to sleep by the gentle sounds of the Pacific Ocean? You can do just that at La-gom resort on the Izu Coast in Shizuoka by the Inatori Port. This pick is one of the most private on our list with very few tents on site. For more on Japan’s stunning coastline, read our guide to the country’s Best Beaches and Watersports Destinations.
While the choice between glamping and camping is entirely up to you and should always be based on your own needs, the main difference is that camping traditionally tends to be a more rustic experience. It remains a great way to see Japan and like all countries, Japan has its own rules and quirks as far as camping goes. Here is a quick overview:
- You can’t just camp anywhere in Japan, but that doesn’t mean your options are limited. There are public and private campsites right across Japan - more than 3,000 of them in fact - offering you a huge number of campsites to choose from in almost every corner of Japan. Campsites in Japan are clean and well-maintained so one important rule to remember is to clean up after yourself and pick up any litter.
- Unlike many Western campsites, Japan’s sites have impressive amenities such as drinking water, toilets, and more. Some also include electricity, playgrounds, tennis courts, fishing areas, and are located near onsen (hot spring baths). Another key rule to be aware of is that you cannot start your own fire at your camp. Different types of camping in Japan include sites specifically for camper vans, cars, and other vehicles to pull up and pitch a tent. This is known as auto-kyanpu or ‘auto camping’ in Japan and is becoming increasingly popular. Alternatively, there are also campsites with cabins, lodges, and other kinds of accommodation for those who prefer sleeping under a roof and four walls. And of course, there’s glamping too! For the full list of more than 3,000 campsites visit the Japan National Tourism Organisation’s official website.
For a much more detailed overview, read our comprehensive guide to Camping in Japan.
Japan is no stranger when it comes to unusual, different, exciting, accommodation and places to stay, from staying in a train hostel to a bookshop hotel and everything in between. Let’s take a look at a few highlights from previous blog posts that might be of interest to you.
- Capsule hotels
Japan was the originator of the capsule hotel concept, and it remains a quintessentially Japanese experience that’s well worth trying for those in the mood for a different kind of accommodation. The aptly named ‘Capsule Hotel in Osaka’ was the first of its kind in the country in 1979 and spawned a hotel phenomenon that was replicated all over Japan and right around the world. For a detailed guide and our top recommendations for capsule hotels to try, read our article Staying In A Capsule Hotel.
- Traditional ryokan
Found throughout Japan, ryokan are a traditional type of Japanese inn, operating as a guesthouse for travellers. Holding true to old Japanese customs, they tend to be found in postal towns or rural areas to service people travelling on Japan’s medieval highways. Read our guide to What To Expect When Staying In A Ryokan as an introduction and our feature on the Best Ryokan in Japan for our top recommendations.
- Winter and Ski Resorts
Japan has some of the best winter resorts and ski slopes in the world. If you’re a winter sports fan, why not stay at one of these resorts during your visit? Our guide to Everything About Hakuba: Snow, Ski, and Winter Resort is a great place to start. You could also read our Starting Guide to Skiing and Snowboarding in Japan for more.
- Hot Spring and Onsen Resorts
Japanese hot springs are the perfect way to relax and while many ryokan have onsen, there are also specific onsen resort towns you can visit across Japan. Read our guides to Visiting Atami Onsen, bathing in the mist at Wakura Onsen, or staying at the famous Kinosaki Onsen Town, for three excellent places to start.
- Unusual Accommodation
For a round-up of a whole host of unusual accommodation across Japan, from Hello Kitty themed rooms to art islands, ice hotels, and more, read our guide to The Most Interesting (and Unusual) Places to Stay in Japan.