It is said that there is a recent camping boom in Japan. With the outbreak of the new coronavirus, outdoor camping has been attracting attention, and on weekends, many people gather at campgrounds. But just because you didn’t bring your camping equipment with you on your trip to Japan doesn’t mean you have to miss out on what the locals are doing. Along with camping, glamping is also seeing a huge wave of popularity, especially due to the network effect of social media. For those who haven’t come across this “glamorous camping” portmanteau before, glamping is similar to camping without giving up the creature comforts that we are used to in our day-to-day lives. The accommodations or locations may be unusual, but you are guaranteed a good night’s sleep in a luxurious room. If you are traveling around Setouchi and would like to swap out the standard hotel room for a luxury tent or the restaurant dinner for a BBQ looking out over the Seto Inland Sea, be sure to check out these three unique glamping locations.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors at NESTA RESORT KOBE
Nesta Resort Kobe is not your usual glamping (or, for that matter, camping) location and is more akin to an outdoor adventure theme park. Perfect for families traveling with tweens or teens, there is no shortage of things to do with more than 60 facilities available, including glamping and natural hot springs surrounded by nature spread around this approximately 2.3 million square meters resort.
If you are looking for exhilaration, the Sky Eagle zipline is where you should head first. At over 500 meters long and with a top speed of 75 kilometers per hour, it’s the closest you’ll get to flying without jumping out of a plane. The ride is for four people at a time, and you all zoom down the course with a height difference of 57 meters simultaneously. Gun Battle, The Real is a capture the flag style survival game for both kids and adults. Divided into up to three teams,each person uses a gun to fight a battle of both offense and defense. Wild Buggy is best for those who have an International Drivers License, where you can ride through the course in a single or two-seater buggy, making the most of the natural environment. Other activities include zorbing(a sport in which people roll down a hill in a giant ball made of plastic) and canoeing. As well as adventure-style activities, there are also ten different spa facilities with outdoor and indoor baths and eleven different restaurants serving everything you could ask for, from sushi to pizza.
There are three main glamping options: Premium Cabins, Maisonette Suites, Pool Garden Suites, and Royal Suites.
The Premium Cabins come in a few different styles depending on how many people you are traveling with. Still, most are fitted out with double and bunk beds to easily accommodate a family.
They also have a large deck where you can relax after all your day’s excitement and enjoy a BBQ.
The Maisonette Suites are glamping cabins with a large living room on the first floor and a bedroom on the second. They come complete with a separate kitchen and have a deck for you to BBQ on.
Finally, the Pool Garden Suites are the premium option, with two bedrooms on the second floor and a large private pool and BBQ terrace.
The Royal Suite is the ultimate in luxury, with a large all-weather barbecue area, year-round pool, sauna, and Jacuzzi. If you want to enjoy camping, don’t worry! You can rent the necessary equipment and enjoy a camping experience.
Glamping facility “Kamikatsu Frontier Group’s Base Camp” surrounded by the mountains of Tokushima
Head 400 meters above sea level into a tranquil forest setting of Kamikatsu Frontier Group’s Base Camp. With a clear stream flowing below, the main attraction of this glamping facility is that it is located in the middle of nature. Located in the town of Kamikatsu in Shikoku, the Kamikatsu frontier group, which operates this glamping site facility, began with the goal of “creating the most fun village in Japan” in this smallest town in Shikoku. Kamikatsu Frontier Group’s Base Camp and the Forest use solar power lighting, wood-fueled cookstoves, and firewood baths, adding just the right amount of the experiential “camping” while remaining wholeheartedly in the luxurious glamping category.
The spacious tent at Base Camp accommodates up to six people, with four beds and two cots that are perfect for those traveling as a family, while the smaller Forest tent comfortably fits up to three people, with a double-sized bed and a cot. Both are equipped with basic cooking supplies like utensils, basic seasonings, tableware, and a barbecue stove. All you have to bring is your own fare to cook while relishing in the peaceful forest landscape right outside your doorstep. Kamikatsu Frontier Group also offers rice and coffee for purchase. Rice and coffee are sold by weight, and breakfast ingredients are also available for 550 JPY.
The glamping site comes with a private woodstove bath with panoramic forest views. Staff can assist in preparing your woodstove bath as a paid service, or you can roll up your sleeves and prepare your bath yourself by cutting firewood and boiling your water up to your ideal bathing temperatures. Cap off the night with a soak in the private firewood bath with an astronomical viewing of the night sky, completely unhindered by light pollution as the bath gently brings your day to a finish.
Nearby is Bar IRORI, located in a renovated 300-year-old house in Kamikatsu, where you can sample a night of whiskeys, cocktails, and Kamikatsu sake as jazz and rock music plays on speakers for a casual night mingling with locals. Music is also one of the primary forms of entertainment in Kamikatsu, where you can listen to live performances by local and outside talents. Professional musicians gather for live performances during the YAMABIKO MUSIC LIVE, while the YAMABIKO MUSIC FESTIVAL sets the stage for amateur and professional musicians with music performances lasting all day from morning till night.
The Lantown, Higashi-Kagawa
The spacious tents of The Lantown overlook the Seto Inland Sea
The popular glamping facility, Setouchi Glamping, has been renovated to be even more luxurious as The Lantown, Higashi-Kagawa, which opened in April 2019. This facility is a glamping location on the east side of Kagawa Prefecture, with spacious tents overlooking the Seto Inland Sea. Geared more towards families and small groups of friends, this is the most reasonable option of the three and has a laid-back atmosphere perfect for watching the sun go down as you grill your dinner on the BBQ or sitting around the campfire as it burns late into the night. The oceanview tents sleep between two and four people, and each tent has all of the necessary mod-cons (including an air-conditioner), so you will be comfortable inside no matter the weather. As well as tents, there are also log cabins available for rent on-site.
The calm waves of the Seto Inland Sea are perfect for paddling in the water
As it is right on the water, you can go down to the secluded beach and sunbathe or play in the water, or go stand-up paddleboarding if you want to venture out a bit further. Next door to the glamping area is Vessel Oochi no Yu, a large hot spring bath complex that guests can freely use as many times as they want during their stay.
Panoramic views of the Seto Inland Sea will greet you in the morning
The manager, Ishida-san, is originally from Kobe and has lived in the area for around a year and a half. He loves camping and used to go a lot with his dad as a child, so he was excited to take over and run this glamping area and dream up new ways for guests to enjoy this stunning location. He and the staff are very friendly and more than happy to help with suggestions of where to find the best Kagawa udon in Kagawa Prefecture, which has the largest number of udon shops in Japan or take photos of guests in front of the spectacular ocean vista.
The spacious tents contain power outlets and air-conditioners
There is no shortage of places to go in the area, especially if you are traveling with children and need to entertain. Salt Lake Hiketa is a complex of facilities centered on Ando Pond, the birthplace of hamachi (yellowtail) farming. In addition to feeding hamachi (yellowtail) and easily catching tai (sea bream), visitors can play and learn with puzzles and try their hand at sea fishing for released fish such as hamachi and tai. Toramaru Puppet Land is Japan’s only puppet-themed amusement park. As well as a theatre that holds performances, there is a puppet museum where children can play with and learn about puppets in a hands-on, interactive way.
Each tent is equipped with a BBQ for cooking dinner
Last but not least, Chichibugahama Beach is known as one of the most spectacular sunset locations in Japan and is around a one-hour drive west of The Lantown. This Instagram-worthy beach became famous when it was chosen as the No. 1 place to see a spectacular sunset by a famous Japanese travel website. It is often compared to the salt flats of Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, as photographers can capture perfect reflections in the tide pools.
Glamping, or glamorous camping, is perfect for those who would like to try out camping but don’t want to sacrifice any of the luxuries associated with staying in a hotel. Glamping makes it easy for international visitors to stay a night in a fantastic location without having to worry about dealing with bringing camping equipment or the hassle of setting up a tent.
Photographs and text by Don Kennedy
・ NESTA RESORT KOBE
894-60, Taruho, Hosokawa-cho, Miki-shi, Hyogo
Opening hours: Depends on the facility
Fee: prices vary based on season/day of the week. An extra fee is charged if people cook their own food.
Please check the website for details.
HP (Japanese): https://nesta.co.jp/
・ Kamikatsu Frontier group BASE CAMP
27, Aza-Fukuhara-Iorinotani, Kamikatsu-cho, Katsuura-gun, Tokushima Prefecture
Closed: Year-end and New Year
HP (Japanese): http://kaitakudan.net/basecamp/
・ The Lantown, Higashi-kagawa
1200,Mashino, Higashikagawa City, Kagawa Prefecture
HP (in Japanese): https://glampicks.jp/glamping/g269/