Japanese concept camper car lives like a rolling slopeside igloo
A ski lodge-inspired concept camper is always a fun spin on the all-season RV, but if you already operate a network of actual ski resorts, hot springs hotels, glamping retreats and other rustic getaways, the idea of building a lodge into a motorhome isn't quite as unique. So Japan's Hoshino Resorts has gone a different direction, recreating the feel of a snow-covered landscape inside its new concept mini-motorhome. The adorable Camakuruma trades out the warm wood trim for the cool, icy feel of an igloo or snow cave, blending inconspicuously with its alpine surrounds.
Hoshino Resorts teamed with Japan Camping Car Rental Center (CRC), Nippon Design Center and Toyota Motor Corporation to create the Camakuruma concept. The project was undertaken as a way of highlighting the available RV camping adjacent to Alts Bandai, a Hoshino ski resort in the Fukushima Prefecture.
The Camakuruma concept is positioned as something of a city escape, a cool, calm and clean environment that stands in stark contrast to loud, bustling and polluted urban spaces. When the traveler steps out of the rental office and opens the door of the motorhome, he or she is immediately whisked away to the snow and mountains, even before starting the ignition.
The design team has made use of the bare white walls common in motorhome construction to create a bright, wintry space, accentuated by frosty blue and light tan bedding and materials. It's a definite contrast from its asphalt-and-concrete city starting point, but upon arrival in the mountains, the Camakuruma serves as an extension of the snow-covered landscape, erasing the divide between inside and out.
The simple floor plan includes a small kitchen with sink and fridge at the rear of the motorhome and a transverse double bed in the heart of the space, just behind the driver cab seats. There's also a TV up above the bed for easy day or night viewing. It looks like another bed could fit into the alcove above the cab.
In the absence of wood, leather or fabric trim, the Camakuruma design team turned to "2.5D printing" technology borrowed from Toyota, adding texture to otherwise flat surfaces and materials. The strategy adds visual and tactile depth and contrast, creating a look similar to the stacked blocks of an actual igloo and the scraped snow of the wall of a snow cave or fort.
Personally, we'd still prefer a warm RV cabin trimmed in natural wood and soft-touch fabric as an escape from the snow and cold, but the Camakuruma is an interesting alternative take on the mobile winter retreat. On the other hand, we'd definitely welcome that cool white cabin during a tropical beach or open desert RV trip.
The Camakuruma appears to be strictly a concept for now and has been making appearances at events. Alts Bandai does offer camper car stay-and-ski packages starting at ¥59,000 (approx. US$509). Package offerings include breakfast and use of the nearby hot springs resort.
The Toyota Hiace-based Japan CRC Robinson 771 camper car advertised as part of the Alts Bandai package shows the mastery of space common in Japanese camper cars. The mini-motorhome measures just 498-cm (196-in) long, a single centimeter longer than the four-sleeper Swift Monza camper van we looked at earlier in the week, but manages to sleep and seat up to seven people (five adults, two children). It has two rear bunk beds, a convertible central dinette, an alcove bed with pullout extension, and a kitchen area. A heater is also a critical component of the package.
The Alts Bandai camper package looks like a brilliant way of enjoying both world-famous Japanese powder and a mini-camper getaway in a single trip.