Camping in Nagano and Okinawa

squash

Warming-Up
Mar 12, 2010
6
0
0
Yokohama
#1
I just got back from a 25 day tour around Kyushu and then up to Tokyo.
A great trip and I recommend it to anyone. But it's got me itching for the next one.
My next trip won't be as long, and I'm think a short 5 days Nagano in august then another short 5 days in Okinawa in September.

When we did Kyushu and Honshu, we quickly found out that campgrounds were a joke. So we didn't spend even a night in one. We simply showed up, asked someone where we could pitch our tents, and that was it. Every night, people were super helpful, and would even come and bring beer and chat in the evenings. We stayed in Orchards, beaches, sports fields, peoples front yards, everywhere.
Zero problems.

So here are my questions.

So in Okinawa, there are snakes. But pitching on the beach shouldn't be a problem, should it?
Any stories/experiences touring around the islands?
The goal is more just to beach bum it than really ride.

With Nagano, we were thinking the norikura and in and around Matsumoto. Any thoughts on camping in the area?

Fully loaded we're comfortable up to about 220km a day.

Again, campsites are pretty lame in this country so avoiding them would be nice.

Thanks a lot ladies and gents!
 
Jan 14, 2007
2,513
212
83
Noda
japanichiban.com
#2
I just got back from a 25 day tour around Kyushu and then up to Tokyo.
A great trip and I recommend it to anyone. But it's got me itching for the next one.
My next trip won't be as long, and I'm think a short 5 days Nagano in august then another short 5 days in Okinawa in September.

When we did Kyushu and Honshu, we quickly found out that campgrounds were a joke. So we didn't spend even a night in one. We simply showed up, asked someone where we could pitch our tents, and that was it. Every night, people were super helpful, and would even come and bring beer and chat in the evenings. We stayed in Orchards, beaches, sports fields, peoples front yards, everywhere.
Zero problems.

So here are my questions.

So in Okinawa, there are snakes. But pitching on the beach shouldn't be a problem, should it?
Any stories/experiences touring around the islands?
The goal is more just to beach bum it than really ride.

With Nagano, we were thinking the norikura and in and around Matsumoto. Any thoughts on camping in the area?

Fully loaded we're comfortable up to about 220km a day.

Again, campsites are pretty lame in this country so avoiding them would be nice.

Thanks a lot ladies and gents!

There is a camp site at the hakuba47 ski resort...that's all I know.
Swimming there in the river can be fun.

Watch out for bears in some areas. ie. don't camp on some lonely hillside by yourself.
 

Davad

Warming-Up
Oct 15, 2008
116
0
0
Koto-ku, Tokyo
#5
There`re lots of snakes in Kyushu but in all my years living down there I only saw one of the two poisonous species: a mamushi, which despite my affection for serpents in general and my best efforts at the time, I ran over with my mountain bike on a single track in Oita. Mamushi are not actually all that poisonous. The other (legitimately) poisonous species, the habu, is incredibly rare and just not worth worrying about, in my opinion. Certainly it shouldn`t prevent you from camping in Kyushu anywhere. Just stomp when you walk through forest.

Camping rough is the way to go, anywhere in Japan. The campsites are for partying, and school tours. I`ve camped rough all over Japan, most recently in Kamikochi.

Have you considered doing a tour of Amami-Oshima island instead of Okinawa? They`re about the same size. Amami is part of Kagoshima prefecture and about half way between the main island of Kyushu and Okinawa. Amami has about 70,000 people, or roughly 930,000 fewer people than Okinawa. Lots of highways, strip malls and half-assed resort hotels on Okinawa; lots of mangrove, beaches, coral and villages-with-friendly-locals on Amami. It`s a freakin paradise.

I felt Okinawa-honto was the definition of Paradise Lost.

Just my 2 yen. Have a great time, where ever.
 

squash

Warming-Up
Mar 12, 2010
6
0
0
Yokohama
#6
There`re lots of snakes in Kyushu but in all my years living down there I only saw one of the two poisonous species: a mamushi, which despite my affection for serpents in general and my best efforts at the time, I ran over with my mountain bike on a single track in Oita. Mamushi are not actually all that poisonous. The other (legitimately) poisonous species, the habu, is incredibly rare and just not worth worrying about, in my opinion. Certainly it shouldn`t prevent you from camping in Kyushu anywhere. Just stomp when you walk through forest.

Camping rough is the way to go, anywhere in Japan. The campsites are for partying, and school tours. I`ve camped rough all over Japan, most recently in Kamikochi.

Have you considered doing a tour of Amami-Oshima island instead of Okinawa? They`re about the same size. Amami is part of Kagoshima prefecture and about half way between the main island of Kyushu and Okinawa. Amami has about 70,000 people, or roughly 930,000 fewer people than Okinawa. Lots of highways, strip malls and half-assed resort hotels on Okinawa; lots of mangrove, beaches, coral and villages-with-friendly-locals on Amami. It`s a freakin paradise.

I felt Okinawa-honto was the definition of Paradise Lost.

Just my 2 yen. Have a great time, where ever.
Yeah I totally agree, campsites are for dad drinking beer and BBQing while the kids run around. Not my idea of fun or camping (at least until i'm a dad with a few rug rats myself)

I didn't realize there were snakes in Kyushu. We rode the coast from Fukuoka down to Kagoshima then up to Aso and down into Oita. We just rough camped and had no problems.

I've got this Indiana Jones thing going on where I always look for gold idols, but the downside is I hate snakes. Nothing would freak me out more than a 3m snake curled up under my tent's fly in the morning. :eek:uch:

Thanks for the hint about Amami-Oshima. I've never been to Okinawa so I just randomly picked it as a place to go, but i'll check this place out for sure. After being on a few tours where putting up big kms everyday was, not the goal, but the general order, i'm just looking for a chilled and relaxing 5 days.

I realize I also have to watch Typhoon season. Ortlieb panniers are great for keeping gear dry, but they do nothing for keeping me dry!
 

Bartek

Maximum Pace
Jun 28, 2010
248
35
48
118
Chchibu
ewaandbart.webtobiz.net
#7
Hello. Great plan.

Nagano is not much different from Kyushu when it comes to camping. As everywhere else in Japan there is a lot of public ground with parks, shrines, etc., where you can easily pitch your tent. The best thing is to do it after sunset (just in case) and all should be fine.

As for the snakes, they are not uncommon in Nagano, but just watch your feet when you walk off the paved roads and you'll be fine. Much more scary than sankes are mukade. They are evil.

I am not sure about camping in Okinawa. but it is full of beaches and camping will not be a problem unless you are in a national park. Then again, it is Japan and you will not have rangers walking at night with flashlights looking for wild campers.

Good luck!

Bartek
http://noumads.tripod.com
 

Davad

Warming-Up
Oct 15, 2008
116
0
0
Koto-ku, Tokyo
#8
+1 for the mukade (centipede) being a far scarier/real threat than snakes. People get put in the hospital by those things. You can chop them in half, and the business end of it will chase you down... Pretty awful meat-eating horseflies around any freshwater in Kyushu, I just remembered.

Another reason NOT to go to Okinawa: everyone I met assumed I was US military, which given the general antipathy of the locals toward the soldiers, and the inter-service rivalry amongst the soldiers, made for uncomfortable encounters....
 

tamagojo

Speeding Up
Sep 25, 2009
48
0
26
Takasaki
#10
+1 for the mukade (centipede)
make that plus two.

I learned my lesson motorcycle touring on the Izu Hanto when one of the little buggers crawled into my motorcycle boot. i learned to shake out my shoes and boots every morning after that incident. Their bite hurts! Not a bad bite though... cos I didn"t go to hospital.
 

Ludwig

Speeding Up
Oct 9, 2008
871
0
36
Setagaya-ku, Tokyo
#11
220km per day with a fully loaded bike through mountains is very impressive, especially if you do this on consecutive days!

As for snakes - they are everywhere in Japan, but definitely no threat. They are after their natural food, not humans or human food. So will never crawl into your tent, onto your bike, etc. I really wouldn't worry as long as you wear shoes when walking through rough terrain.

I have had many encounters with snakes in Japan - basically always when I find one enjoying the warm road surface not realising how dangerous this may be, so I end up chasing them off the road to safety.:)

I can imagine centipedes may be less respectful of your privacy. Actually, this most annoying creatures in Japan are simply mosquitoes.
 

TOM

Maximum Pace
#12
Another reason NOT to go to Okinawa: everyone I met assumed I was US military, which given the general antipathy of the locals toward the soldiers, and the inter-service rivalry amongst the soldiers, made for uncomfortable encounters....
Thanks for sharing that Davad. That is such a pity isn't it? - I had imagined there would be antipathy to hakujin & kokujin - assuming we are all US military people regardless of our nationality :mad: - and according to your experience this actually turns out to be the case. What a shame because Okinawa looks like such a great place.
 

squash

Warming-Up
Mar 12, 2010
6
0
0
Yokohama
#14
220km per day with a fully loaded bike through mountains is very impressive, especially if you do this on consecutive days!

As for snakes - they are everywhere in Japan, but definitely no threat. They are after their natural food, not humans or human food. So will never crawl into your tent, onto your bike, etc. I really wouldn't worry as long as you wear shoes when walking through rough terrain.

I have had many encounters with snakes in Japan - basically always when I find one enjoying the warm road surface not realising how dangerous this may be, so I end up chasing them off the road to safety.:)

I can imagine centipedes may be less respectful of your privacy. Actually, this most annoying creatures in Japan are simply mosquitoes.
220km is really the high end. In areas like coming up the coast from Miyazaki to Aso or Izu, we don't ever do more than 160km.

Thanks for all the advice guys, I've shifted my fears from snakes to centipedes!
 
Dec 31, 2009
906
87
48
Matsumoto
#15
Nagano, Ina

Greetings from Ina, Nagano.
Round here everyone is worried about bears so be smart and take any food and tie it in a bag and hang it from a tree far away from you if in a wooded area at night and prepare for it to be gone. I use a bear bell when searching for artifacts in the mountains. As for monkeys dont look em in the eyes and dont be scared if you see them just proceed as though they arent there. Ive seen some mountain goats but they always run at first sight. I hear the locals firing guns every day at the same time to keep the bears and monkeys out of town, but I have never seen a bear and we live right on the edge of the wilderness. Locals are nice around here, never has a problem, but thats cause I smile at everyone I think. Have a fun safe trip!
 

andywood

Maximum Pace
Apr 8, 2008
1,511
1,188
133
Niigata
#16
The food is definitely the thing to think about when camping.

Last year I was camping the night before a race in Iida, Nagano and my friend left his food outside the tent and it was demolished by monkeys or bears. The sounds they made were quite scary.

Later in the year we camped in Ogawa, Nagano and took the food inside with us. I got up in the night to get some water and was chased by something. It was like the scene on the moors in American Warewolf in London! The animal then took pleasure in circling the tent for an hour or so. My friend's shouts of "I'm not scared of you! I'm from Canada! I can kick a Grizzly's ass!" only seemed to make matters worse....

So yeh be careful about what you do with your food...

Andy
 

squash

Warming-Up
Mar 12, 2010
6
0
0
Yokohama
#17
The food is definitely the thing to think about when camping.

Last year I was camping the night before a race in Iida, Nagano and my friend left his food outside the tent and it was demolished by monkeys or bears. The sounds they made were quite scary.

Later in the year we camped in Ogawa, Nagano and took the food inside with us. I got up in the night to get some water and was chased by something. It was like the scene on the moors in American Warewolf in London! The animal then took pleasure in circling the tent for an hour or so. My friend's shouts of "I'm not scared of you! I'm from Canada! I can kick a Grizzly's ass!" only seemed to make matters worse....

So yeh be careful about what you do with your food...

Andy
Hahaha, yeah I'm from Canada too and there is a tendency to disregard bears a bit.
Hiking and riding back home in the deep back country I've never worried!

Maybe it's just the over use of the word Kowai. Haha! I've actually started to believe it.
 
#20
Great information about camping.

I'm heading up to Tohoku for two weeks with a little hammock (rolls up to be just a little bigger than my bike bag) and planning on staying in the "dad drinking beer in a lawn chair with rugrats playing in the dirt" type camp grounds because, I like company but am traveling alone. Japanese people think I am the most adventurous woman on the planet traveling alone and hopefully I can make some friends :D and borrow all the little things that I'm leaving at home :p

but good to know there are plenty of more stealth options if I'm feeling brave. I considered going to Shikoku and doing a whirlwind tour of the 88 temples and I've found other positive accounts of being able to sleep rough. In the end, both because August is hotter down there than in the north and because the majority Japanese go on the 88 temple route by tourist bus that means... tourist busses and no need for any more of those in my life than absolutely necessary.

If it rains, I'll probably find a hostel or minshuku or 'normal' place to stay as I am not bring gear for such weather... but fingers crossed. Last time I got one drizzly morning only in a total of 10 days cycling.

It sounds like you guys are doing an amazing trip!
Best of luck and tail winds to you!