It all sounds simple, but there are certain things you must keep in mind when urban camping in Japan, considering the nature of Japanese culture. While urban camping is not unknown to Japan, its people prefer that their public spaces are not encroached upon. Thus, keeping this in mind, we have come up with four important tips to do urban camping in Japan.
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1. The minimum possible
You should not urban camp with loads of luggage along with you. This will not only be inconvenient to you but also make your presence even more pronounced. When you urban camp, you will need a tent, a sleeping mat, and a sleeping bag. Also, you will have to carry along your stuff throughout the day, and, therefore, a strong and light-weight backpack is absolutely important.
2. Appreciation of Japanese culture
Japan is a closely connected and reserved society, unlike many western countries. Despite its reserved nature, it has developed its own tradition called nojuku which talks about people sleeping on benches, in train stations, etc. Thus, people are not generally uncomfortable at the sight of seeing people sleeping around in public spaces. However, you will have to keep in mind what kind of public space you choose.
3. Choosing the right public space
There will be big and small parks, but it is preferable that you choose a smaller one with less likelihood of people passing by at night. Do not go for parks situated near stations or surrounded by streets. You can also go for woods, if you are comfortable. There are many mountain parks where you can set up your camp and enjoy with considerably less interference and exposure.
Your task is not to become invisible to people—you will have to camp in a way to ensure there is minimal interference to general public.
4. Do not pollute
Japanese people are extremely concerned about cleanliness and hygiene. It is, therefore, important you clean your trash regularly and use public toilets whenever possible. This way people will not object to you and your urban camping!
Without maps, especially in a country like Japan where most of the signs are in Japanese, you will find it really hard to survive. Keep close a good map, and if you are tech-savvy, make Google Earth your inseparable companion. Use maps to keep in your list few more parks in case you are required to switch places due to any reason whatsoever.
6. Maintain manners
Japanese people stress upon good manners, and this makes it all the more important that you greet people who come to park and establish a harmonious relationship with them. In the morning, when you see people around, greet them with ohayogoazaimasu (good morning) and strike a casual conversation with them.