Spring starts early in Japan and the annual Japan Camping Car show is a great place to see what's happening before the outdoor exploration season really kicks-off. Gizmag trekked along to this year's event, held just outside of Tokyo, to check out the latest camping conveyances on offer.
Although small compared to the American and European RV markets, interest in having a mobile base from which explore nature is growing in Japan. According to the JRVA (Japan Recreational Vehicle Association) the Japanese RV Industry is growing year by year, with 4,434 vehicles manufactured domestically in 2014 and 286 imported into the country.
UPGRADE TO NEW ATLAS PLUS
More than 1,500 New Atlas Plus subscribers directly support our journalism, and get access to our premium ad-free site and email newsletter. Join them for just US$19 a year.UPGRADE
RVing in Japan is most commonly enjoyed by campers in the 40-70 year old age group who tend to embark on three day adventures, on average. The most popular type of vehicle is the Class B Converted Van, which accounts for around 37 percent of the market. The nationwide network of RV Parks, Service Parking Areas and Roadside stations are set up for these small-footprint vehicles, which usually include sleeping quarters an built-in kitchen facilities. There was a vast array of options on show this year, with one common theme being the inclusion of a rear partitioned area for storing outdoor equipment.
The lightly equipped MPV or wagon also account for a large slice of the RV market in Japan (31 percent) of the market. Like Honda's Hobio FLEX Concept (below), these vehicles tend to be a little more Spartan, relying on roof or packed tents and portable camping stoves and washing facilities for your creature comforts.
Better equipped – and more expensive – Cab Conversion (Kyabukon) rigs were also prominent on the show floor. Popular for exploring beyond the proliferation of RV Parks, these vehicle are still small at less than 5 meters in length to take advantage of cheaper car ferry charges.
Then of course there's the super compact Kei-Van or Kei-Truck campers. Strict government regulations restrict the body and engine size of these vehicles to under 2 meters in height and 660 cc. This means they not only fit in your parking space back in Tokyo but also on any ferry, or within any country village, during your travels.
Japan loves dogs and dogs love nature, so a final mention goes to the NOAH Cross City Capsule from TUM (Tokai Utility Motor). It's designed to provide a mobile rest space for both humans and animals ... and even has a matching dog-carry cage.
Take a wander through to our Japan Camping Car Show photo gallery for more of the innovations on display at the 2016 event.
Official site: Japan Camping Car Show 2016 (Japanese)View gallery - 86 images