Almost three quarters of Japan is covered by forests and mountains, meaning the mostly city-dwelling population of 126 million have both the space and the necessity to just get away from it all. Time is also in short supply for the working population, so long weekends or short vacations are the norm ... and when everyone has same vacation idea at the same time, accommodation is at a premium. This all adds up to a ready marketplace for camping vehicles. Gizmag headed along to the 2015 Camping Car show in Tokyo to check out the latest ways to tackle the great outdoors on wheels.
The Japanese Camping Car market has developed into some very different forms to those in Europe and the USA and also Australia, the three other major markets for these kinds of vehicles. There are three basic ways the Japanese Camping Car market has gone, according to Masahiko Yamada from vehicle modification company NUTS – the Micro K-Camper, the Combo and the Cab Conversion.
The Micro K-Camper
Starting at the bottom, in terms of size and price, we have the K-Camper. These are based on the chassis or body of the Kei-Truck and are both very small and quite cheap. And just like their Kei-Car counterparts, they conform to a strict set of government rules regarding their size and power output. This isn't necessarily conducive to camping comfort, but with pop-up roofs and clever interior packaging, you can get a quart into a pint pot, as they say.
Taking a step-up size-wise is the Combo. These vehicles are usually based on large people carriers or family vehicles and look almost totally standard from the outside.Their primary function remains that of a family runabout, but they are designed to be easily converted into an overnight camper for weekend adventures.
The Cab Conversion
Cab Conversions sit at the high-end of the market and are designed for the dedicated traveler, with virtually everything to accommodate life on the open road. Their size is still relatively small compared to their European Motor home cousins ... and tiny compared to the American RV. Masahiko Yamada believes this type of vehicle will move from niche to the mainstream as the market grows in Japan.
Along with one of the highlights from the show, the Honda N-Truck and N-Camp, there were several vehicles on display that did not really fit into any of these categories, like the Triplex Cargo Trailer from Fithworld – a kind of inside out house that you essentially have to have to build once you arrive at your destination.
Also catching our eye was the MiniBig amphibious trailer, which is sold by a company called car-taka.
Head through to our gallery for more highlights from Japan's 2015 Camping Car show.
Official site: 2015 Camping Car show (Japanese)