Photo: Japan Camping-Car Rental Center | © Campingcar, Inc
lifestyle

Forget Olympic lodging worries with rentable 'Japanese hotel on wheels'

20 Comments
By Ben K, grape Japan

If you're planning on visiting Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics and have yet to make reservations for a place to stay, you may have a very unpleasant surprise in store when you start your search. For example, at travel fare aggregator website Booking.com, any search for a week's lodging in the Tokyo area during the Olympic period causes a pop-up to appear with the discouraging message: "94% of places to stay are unavailable for your dates on our site." (at time of writing). If you're looking for a Japanese style ryokan or inn, your chances are even slimmer. According to the Nikkei Asian Review, the city is expecting a 14,000-room shortfall for an expected 10 million visitors. This is driving up hotel prices sometimes as high as four times normal price and three times for Airbnb.

The camper-van solution

One smart solution to the problem is to escape form the lodging crunch all together by renting a camper-van during your trip. The number of foreign tourists renting RVs during their trip to Japan is growing year by year. And it's not hard to see why. Not only can you sleep relatively comfortably, you can also open up worlds of possibilities for traveling around and exploring Japan. And if you're worried about parking during the Olympics, there are camper-van accessible parking areas in Tokyo, some of them in close proximity to the Olympics venues (see our map below).

Fortunately, Japan Camping-Car Rental Center has the perfect camper-van for you:

Hokusai’s “Thirty-six Views of Mountt Fuji” specially designed camper-van

The closest thing to a Japanese hotel room foreign visitors are likely to find on four wheels, this beautifully designed camper-van by Japan CRC allows you to experience Japanese culture and freely explore Japan at the same time.

Two famous Japanese landscape prints are displayed on the sides and back of the RV. These prints are from "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji," produced by the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai at the height of his career. Among them, "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" and "Fine Wind, Clear Morning" are two of Hokusai's greatest works, often described as the artist's "indisputable masterpieces".

Interior

The Japanese theme continues inside, since the camper-van is decorated with Japanese curtains, Japanese cushions and even tatami mat flooring.

HokusaiCRC_5.jpg

HokusaiCRC_6.jpg

Details

Seating Capacity: 7

Sleeping Capacity: 7

Comes equipped with: Air-conditioning, navigation system, ETC device, rear vision camera, fuel-fired heater, inverter, awning, plumbing system, external socket, sub battery, refrigerator, gas stove

Options such as child car seats, ETC cards, multilingual GPS, WiFi routers, sleeping bags, kitchen sets, tables and chairs, and more are also available.

Pricing: For the Olympic period (7/22 to 8/10), the Hokusai RV will cost 98,000 yen for the first day and 90,000 yen (excl. tax) for each additional day thereafter. For example, four days will be 368,000 yen. If that sounds expensive, keep in mind that up to seven people can ride and sleep in it, and it will be cheaper than renting almost all equivalent accommodations in Tokyo for a group of four, let alone seven people, and that's even before factoring in what you'll be saving in public transportation.

Rental locations: Shinagawa Station, Shibuya Station, Ebisu Station, Musashi Kosugi Station, Futako Tamagawa Station, Ryogoku Office, Ichikawa Office, Kanda Jimbocho Office.

For all the details on the Hokusai special edition RV and the other RVs you can choose from for your travel plans during the 2020 Olympics or any other time of the year, as well as other conditions and requirements for rental, please visit Japan Camping-car Rental Center's home page.

If you're interested in renting during the Olympics period, please note that advance reservations begin from Oct 1 (for reservations of four days or more).

Source: Japan Camping-Car Rental Center | © Campingcar Inc.

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© grape Japan

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

20 Comments
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Pricing: For the Olympic period (7/22 to 8/10), the Hokusai RV will cost 98,000 yen for the first day and 90,000 yen (excl. tax) for each additional day thereafter. For example, four days will be 368,000 yen. If that sounds expensive, keep in mind that up to seven people can ride and sleep in it, and it will be cheaper than renting almost all equivalent accommodations in Tokyo for a group of four, let alone seven people, and that's even before factoring in what you'll be saving in public transportation.

But still and even at those prices and being cramped in that tiny thing with seven people? Nope! Not worth it. More than two you are pushing it. No shower of toilet facilities, in that case you are better off going to a nice hotel or just watch the Olympics at home, avoid the mad crowds, sold out items and you can watch it from various angles. Save your money.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

If you think it's going to be hot at the events, just wait till you get back to your 100,000 yen a night tin can that's been sitting in the sun. Should be at least mid forties inside.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Look at those prices again and tell me Japan is not the kingdom of rip offs. I'd love the company to explain how they came to their pricing scheme. Please justify why THAT is the price. They'll never do it without saying "because" 100 times.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Look at those prices again and tell me Japan is not the kingdom of rip offs. 

If people are willing to pay it, it’s not a rip off. It’s the price.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Wow that's expensive?

Government needs to bring in cruise ships.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This is not a great plan. People who are unfamiliar with driving RVs, driving in Japan, parking styles in the city or the combination of will make for some frustrated visitors and worst traffic than what is needed. Hopefully that hefty price includes overnight parking locations for the poor suckers who go this route.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Pricing: For the Olympic period (7/22 to 8/10), the Hokusai RV will cost 98,000 yen for the first day and 90,000 yen (excl. tax) for each additional day thereafter. For example, four days will be 368,000 yen.

screw that.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

They think tourists gonna bring their sleeping bags and forks and knives and all... and those options gonna be the same price as the original price.

No way you'll be able to approach by a driving vehicle olympic sites with that.

And so little parking slots for those to plug arou d Japan (I can't remember having seen any on the roads !).

It is a very good idea though if gov developed the idea massively.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

As an avid camper, I got to tell you: this got to be the most idiotic solution I've yet heard for the Olympic lodging problem. At 700 coconuts a night, I'm expecting 5 star hotels with a free drink bar in the room and massages given by a chorus of angels, not sleeping in a tiny RV with 7 other sweaty persons.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

If people are willing to pay it, it’s not a rip off. It’s the price.

Um, yea it is still a rip off, even if people are willing to pay it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Nope. It’s just the price that some people are too cheap to pay.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This is not a great plan. People who are unfamiliar with driving RVs, driving in Japan, parking styles in the city or the combination of will make for some frustrated visitors and worst traffic than what is needed. Hopefully that hefty price includes overnight parking locations for the poor suckers who go this route.

Exactly, worst idea ever, couldn’t agree more.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Doesnt include Parking space fees - which undoubtably will skyrocket.

And just to catch the unwary, It will probably cost you 100k to pitch a tent somewhere too... Olympic misery for all...

3 ( +3 / -0 )

As mmwkdw said: parking. that's going to be a big problem / expense.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Would you have to keep the engine running for the air-conditioning?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Lot of money for that....

So...where you going to park these things to have access to toilets, showers and power......more $$$$....its a joke but what you expect from experts. ....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As well as the hiked rental prices and parking charges, it will also be necessary to run the engine to power the ac -day and night.

As well as being environmentally unfriendly it will also add to the expense!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I am going to take a contrarian view to most of the other back-seat drivers here.

My justification is because I go car-camping just about once a month, and most of the comments above are just so flat out wrong, I am surprised with the DKC (Dunning-Kruger Confidence) those comments are made.

First, my qualifications for addressing this article. I have lived in Japan continuously for 36 years, and have been an avid inshore-offshore fisherman during and before my time in Japan. For about 20 years now, I've driven a Toyota Lite Ace and later, and now, my third Toyota Hi-Ace ... Toyota Hi-Ace customized for such outdoor sports and car-camping.  

It is the smallest model of the Hi-Ace series, no toilet or pop up roof, but lots of storage under the raised sleeping pad in the back, ample cooler space in the mid passenger section, an inflatable Sea Eagle kayak, folding chairs, and fishing equipment stored under the sleeping pad, a healthy stock of bedding in the side storage areas, and spare clothes and shoes if necessary. The limitations are that I don't have a toilet, fridge, or microwave ... though I do have a portable, hand-pump shower. The closest to what is offered on the rental page would be close to what they call a Standard Class B RV.

To be fair, there WILL be some problems to make this a viable alternative proposition for 'doing' the Olympics.  

1 — Driving anywhere near downtown Tokyo is now enough of a nightmare, it will be a Kafka-esque nightmare come time for the Olympics.  

2 — And yes, the parking, particularly in downtown Tokyo, will be limited in three ways ... 1) places will be few, 2) prices will be gouged, and 3) judging by the size of that particular model ... the number of spaces will be limited by the height (usually 2.1 meters or less for underground) and length for coin-parking spots.  

3 — And there will also he the problem of who is going to drive the damn thing. An international license will legally do in a pinch, but like old salts know all too well, 'qualified' by virtue of just having a license will elicit a smirk or grin at best.

4 — And yes, the engine will have to be run to keep the air-conditioning going.

——————————

That being out of the way, I will proceed to argue that the folk working at Japan Camping Car-Renting Center know EXACTLY what they are doing, and that's why the back-seat drivers here are not working there.  

Here is part of my reasoning, based on my own experience. And for those from the states, think of a MAJOR upgrade to the tailgate parties you might have gone on for the college football games or car races.

1 — Good news ... the Tokyo Olympics are not going to be restricted to Tokyo, so unless one is determined to see a specific event offered only in downtown Tokyo, you don't even have to enter the Shuuto circular loop, much less get off it and traverse the labyrinth.

2 — For those who don't need to enter the mouth of Mammon, parking lots can be extremely cheap ... precisely .... uh ... 'free'. Not so much a secret among drivers in Japan, the express ways are dotted with Service Areas and Parking Areas, many of which are shopping and culinary destinations in themselves (Tokyo bound Hanyu on the Tohoku is an Edo-era blast from the past!), some of which with baths, and all of them with 24 hour toilets ... for free. And though there is an unspoken implication that they are made for driving 'rests', even the smallest of these many areas will have vans with their curtains drawn shut obviously bedding down for the night, and with no fear of an authority knocking on their window to verity if they are 'sleeping' or just 'resting'. I have NEVER seen an SA, PA with parking areas filled to capacity with overnighters.

If that weren't enough, there has been a boom in 'michi no eki' for camping cars ... uh ... 'resting' cars. Combined with SA/PA sleep overs at well over 50 trips under my belt along the nearby Boso peninsula, Izu hanto, the Fuji 5 Lakes area, Tanzawa-ko, Okutama, Kobuchizawa and points along the Chuo Kosoku and Tomei Kosoku, Utsunomiya-Kinugawa-Nikko area, Bandai, Nasu, Nagano-ken, and too many places to list here. The traveling time to an event can be minimal, and the parking fee ... uh ... in yen ... uh ... '0'. I have never once been expected to pay for a sleep-over spot for my van ... and many of these spots have a great view as well as 24 hour amenities and conveniences. What is not listed on the home page of the rental cars, but my guess is included ... are hand-pump mini-showers. They can be bought for as little as ¥2,000 and the 10 to 20 liter capacity can quickly be refilled for free at the public toilets. If you think 'tail-gate' party instead of 5 star hotel, it's a pleasant way to rinse the summer sweat off on a humid Japanese summer day. And like the SAs and PAs mentioned above ... I have NEVER seen a michi no eki filled to capacity. And have often had the pleasure of making buddies with fellow car campers this way ... I always bring along a guitar, a couple of frisbees, and a trusty Canon 80D ... all conversation starters, as if chatting about others' dogs were not enough.

3 — Driving could be problematic. These vans tend to be relatively narrow and top heavy, and if a typhoon or even strong cross winds blow across an exposed expressway, one has to slow down and be careful. But even when I am not using the built in navigation system, most of the destination street signs have the place names written in English. Outside of Tokyo, the roads are quite scenic and navigable, and other than the predictable traffic jams during holidays and events, free of traffic jams. That being said, I think one service the rental center would do well to offer is a native (or near native) driver-guide who is familiar with transportation and places to stay overnight.  

4 — Yeah, the carbon footprint is there, and you will have to keep the engine running to run the air-conditioner ... and gasoline prices could rise on whether the power that be want to capitalize on higher oil prices through a new Trumped up war with Iran or CiA inspired coup of oil--rich Venezuela. But hell, IF, is the biggest word in the English language ... IF a typhoon doesn't hit during the peak of the games, or a heat wave, or an earthquake, or a tsunami.

Even in the best possible of scenarios, the carbon foot print of a 5 star hotel is still there ... just hidden beneath layer upon layer of middle men, sub-contractors, 'advantages' of scale, etc. so that the end-user does not realize how much that 5 star hotel extracts from the environment in a zero-sum game.

But back to the air conditioning. The good thing about camping cars is that it cools down REALLY quickly, and depending on whether you have a pop-up roof tent and are parking at wind-swept higher elevations, you may not even need the air conditioner at all. Even with the front and rear air conditioner running, I am burning maybe about ¥2,000 a night at most ... a price I am only too happy to pay for a comfortable sleep on a muggy night.

Something not mentioned but may be relevant is the gas milage. For my money, the Toyota Hi-Ace is the best all-rounder for Japan - families, private contractors in construction, hotel shuttling, outdoor sports, etc. Compared to American counterparts, it is more dependable, lots of 3rd party options and add-ons, and very good gas mileage ... resulting in a high resale value, and by far, the most 'stolen' car in Japan for export to developing countries. No wonder the U.S. has hidden trade barriers keeping the Hi-Ace out of America's domestic market ... those Chevy/Ford vans would soon be a thing of the past.

To sum up ... this camping car option is not for everyone. Never was intended to be. Hell, even the Olympics are not for everyone. I plan on spending that time fishing the Izu islands or camping and fishing around Shimoda ... and catching hi-lights on the tv or internet.

But for those young, adventurous, interested, and wealthy enough to 'do' Japan for the Olympics, I think the guys at Japan Camping Car-Rental Center are on to something. And that's why most comments here should be taken with more than a grain of salt.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

7 adults crammed in that thing in Japanese summer? And probably having to walk to public transport, since you can not park it near any event? OK.... I think the fools who choose this deserve it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I could understand a state side size RV, but that, no way

just stay in a guest house, home stay, air bnb, hostel, ryokan, weekly mansion, business hotel outside of Tokyo

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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