June 2017, fifteen tourers along with our Tour Escorts, Nelson and Barbara Lacey, set off for Japan
– for the first Escorted Tour of its kind in the country. One of the fifteen was Brenda Rhodes, an avid adventurer and regular tourer with Worldwide Motorhoming Holidays.
At a recent Presentation Day event, Brenda recalled her reaction to seeing the new destination in our brochure and her experiences on the 20 day tour.
“I’d never thought about travelling to Japan before but after seeing it in the brochure at lunchtime - by that afternoon I had booked!
I’m always seeking out new experiences – some of my best memories on tours with Worldwide Motorhoming Holidays include sky diving in New Zealand and shark cage diving in South Africa!”
Japanese campervan facilities
I had already met our tour escorts, Nelson and Barbara on another tour so knew I was in safe hands. I had some initial reservations about Japan as a destination, especially not having a toilet in the campervan! However Nelson soon reassured me that the campsite facilities were of a high quality which meant that lack of facilities in my campervan wasn’t an issue.
I could just about stand up in my campervan, unlike the motorhomes I am used to you had to get out of the cab to get into the back of the camper, rather than being able to swivel your chair around. The campervans in Japan are compact but have everything you need including a 2 ring camping stove.
Culture and Rituals
Whilst facilities on campsites met expectations, visiting public toilets is an experience in itself! The toilets are very high tech, with a remote control at the side you can use to play music, or clean yourself. You take your shoes off and put slippers on in the toilets, they are immaculately clean people.
I wanted to go into a traditional Onsen (bathing facility) while I was there, so I took a chance at 7pm one evening when it was quiet. This was a fairly large one and they even let me take my crutches in! There was a very helpful Japanese lady in there who would give me a nod so I knew what to do. It was great to have such an authentic experience.
We were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of some important Japanese rituals while we were there. I witnessed a wedding and Shinto baptism, and was surprised to see that the bride and groom did not touch! The Golden Pavilion was also a site not to be missed – it really shimmered in the sun.
Hiroshima Peace Park
As part of the tour we travel on the bullet train to Hiroshima Peace Park. We were surprised to see that the train conductor bowed to us every time he entered the carriage! We had a Japanese style packed lunch on the train – it was in a wooden box and contained a lot of fish.
The Peace Park itself was really thought provoking and is definitely worth the trip; I was particularly moved by the ‘eternal flame’ they will keep lit until all traces of nuclear waste are gone.
Final thoughts on camping in Japan
I travel on my own and I love to explore beyond the itinerary – and I felt very safe doing so in Japan. You see a lot more of the country when you are driving, especially as they drive at such slow speeds out there.
Japan was absolutely stunning; I was surprised by how quiet it was – no one would laugh out loud in public, there would be no cars honking their horns or people eating whilst walking down the street as you would expect in the UK. It was very peaceful.
One of my favourite things about Japan was the diversity of the country; I didn’t expect so many mountains and such beautiful scenery as could be seen all around us. Visiting the temples was a real highlight for me. Even when it was very busy people were so polite, there was no pushing and shoving.
For anyone considering going, I would say go for it! I would recommend if you have any dietary requirements to include these on the booking form and you won’t have a problem. Japanese people are very modest, demure and cannot do enough for you. You’ll have an amazing experience!
If you are inspired by Brenda’s experience, our Escorted Tours to Japan
depart in May and October.