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Ought to You Lease an RV in Japan? What to Know Earlier than You Go


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Final spring we took an unconventional journey to Japan. As a substitute of the normal few days in Tokyo and different massive cities, we opted to hire an RV in Japan and spend two weeks exploring backroads and small cities. We nonetheless loved a few of the highlights in Tokyo, Kanazawa, and Kyoto, however a few of our favourite recollections have been spent subsequent to streams, mountains, and seashores throughout rural Japan.

If you happen to’re at the moment planning a visit to Japan, I needed to share a couple of issues I want we had recognized earlier than renting an RV in Japan.

Why Would You Lease an RV in Japan?

Japan is thought for having a few of THE finest public transportation in all the world. Plus, a lot of the cultural experiences that vacationers search after will be present in Tokyo or Osaka.

However for an genuine Japanese expertise, you may hire a motorhome and take a highway journey throughout Japan.

Why would you keep in an RV versus a lodge?

For most individuals, you’re most likely much better off staying in accommodations or Airbnbs in cities. Nonetheless, for us, RVing has all the time been our favourite mode of journey. We are able to sleep in the identical mattress each evening, camp in nature, and get away from the crowds to discover off the overwhelmed path.

If you happen to’re somebody who likes to discover smaller cities and nature, renting an RV in Japan (or a van) may very well be an important possibility.

Particularly if you wish to get up with views like this.

Campsite next to Mount Fuji
Fumotoppara Campground subsequent to Mount Fuji

Or drink espresso with views like this.

RV with a view of Mount Fuji

The place to Discover RV Rental Corporations in Japan

There are a number of firms to select from when renting a camper in Japan. A lot of them provide vans, however there are additionally a number of who provide motorhomes too. We visited throughout peak season and rented our RV comparatively late, so many have been booked up.

Beneath are two RV rental firms in Japan that I researched earlier than discovering our chosen rental supplier. Each had nice evaluations, however no availability throughout cherry blossom season once we visited.

Japan Campers

This was the primary firm I reached out to whereas researching. They confirmed up first in Google and had a number of totally different vans and a few motorhomes to select from. Sadly, they didn’t have availability for our dates. They appear to be possibility for vacationers primarily based on the variety of optimistic Google evaluations they’ve on their web page.

Dream Drive

This firm builds out and rents its vans. Their evaluations are high notch and the inside design of their vans is gorgeous. If you happen to’re visiting Japan as a pair or solo traveler, they may very well be an important possibility for renting a van in Japan, however the vans are probably too small for households.

Who We Rented Our RV From

We rented from an organization referred to as El Monte RV. They’ve a handful of pickup areas round Tokyo to select from. We picked up ours from the Funabashi department.

By the best way, if this RV firm sounds acquainted and also you’re primarily based within the US, it’s as a result of El Monte is a well-liked RV rental firm within the States. We reached out to the US firm to ask if there was an affiliation. Seems, it’s the identical firm!

Family in front of RV in Japan
Our conventional RV pickup image!

The pickup course of was comparatively simple. It took us a few minutes to search out their location because it’s nestled behind a house items retailer. Like many rental firms, they’ve a large car parking zone and ample room for parking motorhomes.

We have been greeted by the supervisor who took us via a tour of the RV and talked with us about toll passes, GPS, and every other questions we had.

I used to be very fearful about not talking Japanese on this journey and dealing with communication. Everybody warned us that nobody in Japan speaks English. What we encountered throughout our time in Japan was that just about everybody used Google Translate or a translation machine. Even in the event you stroll as much as somebody and ask for his or her assist, most individuals wouldn’t be offended in the event you had your Google translate app out and able to use. In reality, they may have theirs out earlier than you!

We had no translation points whereas selecting up our rental.

If you wish to see our expertise selecting up our RV rental and driving it via Tokyo, you may watch the video under.

What It’s Like Driving an RV in Japan

The roads in Japan are spectacular. They’re clear, the signage is unbelievable, and Japanese drivers are the friendliest I’ve ever encountered in any nation. They do drive on the left facet of the highway and the proper facet of the car, like within the UK or Australia.

I’m all the time slightly nervous in terms of driving in a brand new nation. I shouldn’t have been involved in Japan. Even after I unintentionally exited the freeway in downtown Tokyo, I used to be capable of navigate again onto the primary highway.

An sudden good thing about our rental was our toll cross. I didn’t comprehend it on the time, however there are toll roads nearly in every single place in Japan. We sometimes would evaluate our routes to go non-toll versus toll, nevertheless it by no means made sense to keep away from tolls.

Our toll cross, referred to as an ETC, made driving via the tolls seamless. We might sluggish, however observe cease on the gates and they’d routinely raise. Our ETC would say what number of yen we have been charged at that toll gate. On the finish of the journey, El Monte calculated the toll invoice and we paid them instantly. For 2 weeks, it was about $250 USD for all tolls.

What to Count on from an RV Rental in Japan

As you may think about, most of the motorhomes are very small. Our motorhome was 16 ft lengthy. For reference, that is smaller than an American minivan (which is about 17 ft).

Nonetheless, for a two-week highway journey, there was sufficient house for the 4 of us.

One wonderful thing about the RV being so small is which you can park wherever a traditional automobile can park. We drove into the outdated metropolis of Kanazawa and have been capable of park in a downtown metropolis car parking zone with no drawback.

Not like different RV leases, not all the things got here included. For add-on purchases, we rented further bedding, pots and pans, desk and chairs, and an infinite wifi bundle (extremely advocate, labored nice). You’ll be capable of choose these choices at checkout.

My largest concern about renting an RV in Japan was the toilet.

I couldn’t discover ANY van rental firms in Japan with an actual rest room or cassette rest room on board. Our motorhome rental got here with an “emergency rest room”. I had no concept what constituted an emergency earlier than selecting up this RV. We now have a four-year-old and a two-year-old. We’re perpetually in a state of emergency lavatory conditions.

That being stated, the toilet scenario wasn’t all that unhealthy. The toilet appears much like different RV loos. You’ve got a closed-off door and a proper-looking rest room. However as an alternative of your rest room being hooked to a black tank, it simply has a sack/bag in it.

Our “emergency rest room”

You refill the bag after which dump it within the rubbish.

Did I really feel bizarre strolling via campsites with a bag of my pee in it? Sure.

Was it the worst factor on the planet? No.

If you wish to see a full tour of our motorhome, you may watch our video under.

What Japanese Campgrounds Are Like

Japanese campgrounds are totally different.

A number of of those we encountered have been massive fields versus particular person campsites. There are not any dump stations since autos don’t have working bogs. There’s a jug underneath the sink which you can empty and refill at campsites.

Most individuals have been in tents. We noticed a handful of vans and even fewer motorhomes like ours. As our journey progressed, we did discover campgrounds that extra carefully resembled RV parks within the US with particular person campsites.

Do you want reservations?

For 90% of our RV journey plans, we don’t e-book upfront. We like to see what we discover alongside the best way. Nonetheless, we have been uncertain of how straightforward it will be to name campgrounds in Japan with the language barrier. And when researching we observed that just about each campground web site stated reservations are required.

We booked each evening upfront. It was comparatively straightforward as most campgrounds have some type of on-line reserving or reservation inquiry kind. Some campgrounds do say to name, which was subsequent to inconceivable to do from the States. We searched and located electronic mail addresses for any campgrounds the place we needed to remain. This took a major period of time however was properly price it. Each evening of our journey was deliberate and coordinated. We did cancel our final campground reservation so we might return to Tokyo early and take the children to Disney Sea. They have been the one campground that was paid upfront and we noticed a portion of our charge refunded.

Whereas we made reservations, only a few campgrounds requested us to pay on-line or reserve with a card forward of time. Most accepted yen in individual as an alternative. We picked up yen earlier than leaving the States, which I might advocate if attainable. Playing cards are usually not continuously accepted throughout the nation.

Professional tip: Print out all your electronic mail confirmations so you may merely hand them to the park upon arrival. These might be in Japanese, so we wrote the date and Google Maps identify on the highest of every sheet. This made it simpler for us to search out our campsites each afternoon and made check-in even simpler.

Ought to You Lease an RV In Japan?

If you wish to have a really totally different expertise than 95% of the individuals who go to Japan, I might extremely advocate renting an RV.

Our favourite experiences in Japan have been assembly individuals and discovering locations off the overwhelmed path. One evening, we camped at a family-owned restaurant and the proprietor took me out and let me dig up bamboo and taught me to cook dinner it. One other day we toured a rural inexperienced tea plantation.

When you can have unbelievable experiences in Japanese cities, a lot of our favourite recollections wouldn’t have occurred had we not gotten off the overwhelmed path.

Questions on planning a Japanese highway journey? 

Drop them within the feedback! We’re completely happy to assist!

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