We have had the pleasure of chatting with and collaborating with Yuka and Toshiya, the duo behind the campervan for hire company aptly named: Road Trip Japan. We instantly fell in love with their little camper that is for rent, plus their knowledge of camping around Japan is amazing. This all just meant that a Q&A was inevitable. Take a moment to check out the photos of them and the camper below. Here we go:
1. Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up? Did you camp as kids?
Toshiya: I grew up in Tokyo in a ward called Adachi, which is located between two rivers with large banks. Though Tokyo is known for being a heavily populated metropolis, I grew up in an area with lots of greenery. I was a boy scout when I was little, and my first camping experience was when I was 7 years old. I still remember being very excited. I continued hiking as a boy scout until I was about 15 years old. In retrospect, I feel that those enriching experiences were very useful in making this company.
Yuka: I grew up in a prefecture called Saitama, located next to Tokyo. It was only after meeting Toshiya that I realized how fun camping is. When I was a child, my family owned a small car and was not very proactive in terms of outdoor activities, so I envied families who owned vans and enjoyed the outdoors.
2. What do you do for work?
Toshiya: After graduating technical school, I worked is sales for Nissan Motors. For 15 years, my work revolved around cars. Before taking part in Road Trip Japan, I’ve was involved in almost every aspect of the industry including new cars, used cars, car insurance, car mechanics, and car rentals.
I myself am a huge fan of road trips, so I wanted visiting tourists to experience something that can’t be achieved through public transit. The result: Road Trip Japan.
Yuka: I’ve been working as a Japanese language teacher for about 4 years. My mission is to make the people visiting Japan enjoy their stay. Each day, I want them to have more fun than they did the previous day. That was one of the reasons I began teaching Japanese to foreign visitors. I was also employed at Nissan Motors as a mechanic. About 5 years ago, I began thinking about starting a business with Toshiya, and thought about what I could do. We took a lot of road trips as we thought about the possibilities. Finally, the dots connected, and we decided to start Road Trip Japan.
3. Tell us about your van. How long have you been loaning it?
We began in April of 2017. In the past five months, we’ve had seven groups visiting from France and Belgium rent our van. One of the groups took our van all the way to Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s main islands located in the southwest, and drove back to Tokyo!
4. How long did it take to build?
It took approximately six months. We did it all on our own. We were estimating that it would take three months, but because both of us had other jobs to do, it took longer than expected. We looked at different photos of campervans and checked online resources for DIY information as we built our campervan. Throughout the process, our efforts were hampered by cold weather during the winter, lack of ideas, and results that were different from what we initially expected. However, when our customers say, “That was awesome!” and explain to us how they had a marvellous time, it makes me forget all of the hardships that we went through.
5. Where do you like to camp?
Tough question; I can’t choose!
Mountains, rivers, lakes, and the ocean all have their respective merits. Camping near the ocean allow you to feel just how grand the Earth really is by looking at the never-ending horizon. Depending on the weather, nature will produce different sounds each time you camp near lakes and rivers. All four seasons can be observed in Japan, so if you want to experience a particular season, camping near mountains will allow you to sense the different seasons through the changing colours of the trees and leaves.
6. What is the best thing about camping in Japan?
Without a doubt, the onsen (hot-springs). There are some campgrounds with hot-springs. Even if you’re not near a campground, you can easily find a hot-spring and take a dip. Nothing feels better than going into a nice and hot open-air bath while looking up at the sky. Japan is also known for its delicate cuisine. Each region has its own unique specialty. You can enjoy the exclusive meals on your road trips, or you can buy them and eat them at the camp. In essence, spectacular views aren’t the only way to enjoy camping.
7. If you could camp anywhere in the world, where would you go?
This is another tough question. If it’s outside of Japan, I’d like to go to a large country such as the United States or Australia. Japan is a small island-country, so I feel that camping in a large country would allow me to enjoy a bigger view. Of course, the plants and animals are different from those that can be found in Japan, so that’s another thing to look forward to. Before that, however, I’d like to camp in all of the prefectures in Japan with a campervan. My goal is to show the world the places in Japan that you won’t be able to find just by looking through the internet or some travel guide. When people take a look and say, “I want to go there!” I would be thrilled if they let Road Trip Japan fulfill their wishes.
All photos courtesy Road Trip Japan.