Glamping in Japan: The great outdoors just went upmarket

“Glamping,” or “glamorous camping,” is gaining popularity in Japan among travelers who want to experience the pleasures associated with camping without forsaking the comforts of a luxury hotel.

Hoshino Resort Co., a leading operator of resorts and hotels, opened Japan’s first glamping facility, Hoshinoya Fuji, in Fujikawaguchiko, a town in Yamanashi Prefecture, in October.

The facility consists of 40 cabins in the woods overlooking Lake Kawaguchi. When weather permits, guests have a beautiful view of Mount Fuji. Outdoors, they enjoy drinks and meals by a bonfire and can stargaze from trees.

Accommodation doesn’t come cheap, starting from ¥45,000 for an overnight stay in a cabin, not including meals. But at weekends, all the cabins are fully booked.

“We welcome people who normally avoid camping or outdoor activities because now they can enjoy extraordinary experiences without worrying about the bothersome preparations,” said Hirokazu Sawada, general manager at Hoshinoya Fuji.

Neat RV Co. in the city of Chiba near Tokyo contributes to the growing popularity of glamping by selling U.S.-built motor homes. These spacious homes on wheels offer living accommodation, air conditioning, television, a bathroom and kitchen facilities.

Demand for used motor homes is growing, especially among people in their 40s and 50s. Married couples in their 60s are also increasingly attracted to them as they plan driving tours after retirement.

In 2015, Neat RV logged a 40 percent rise in sales of used motor homes from the previous year.

New motor homes are each priced between ¥13 million and ¥18 million, compared with ¥2 million to ¥10 million for used vehicles. While U.S.-made motor homes are much bigger than Japanese cars, American makers are releasing new models suited to narrower roads and auto camping sites in Japan.

Meanwhile, Innovation Co., an Osaka-based subsidiary of Toho-Leo Co. that provides landscaping services and products, has tied up with building contractors across Japan to build rooftop gardens.

Innovation began the “Plus One Living” business in 2010 and has since built more than 5,000 roof gardens where householders can enjoy having a barbecue and pitching a tent.

In December last year, the company began mail-order sales of more than 100 glamping-related items including lanterns and tents. It also offers information on roof gardens and outdoor activities through a web magazine.

A roof garden is a “good place for casual communication among family members and friends,” an Innovation official said.

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