Campers and Camper Trailers - What Options are Available in Japan?
Campers and Camper Trailers - What Options are Available in Japan?

Campers and Camper Trailers – What Options are Available in Japan?

December 12, 2023

Camping trends are widely increasing since post Covid-19

When it comes to buying a camper, you might be tempted by the many advantages that camping can bring. Whether you want to spend your time exploring the outdoors or just relaxing at home, a Camper can be the perfect fit. You can easily find great deals on campers when you know where to look. Here are five reasons to buy a camper van.

In search of quiet place away from urban conjestion

Camper vans are great for the following:

To explore the world and see new places.

To save money on accommodation.

To meet new people and make friends with other travellers.

To get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and COVID-19, for some peace in nature.

To experience the outdoors in all its glory, without having to worry about anything else but your own company.

Here are the 5 types of camper options available in Japan:

  Vancon (Van Base Conversions) Campers•

   Cabcon (Cabin Base Conversions) Campers•

   Light Campers – Kei Van Light Van 660cc Based•

  Buscon (Bus based Conversion) Micro Bus Campers•

   Camping trailers

Vancon Campers

Vancon campers are campers that were converted from vans.

They are made by remodelling Nissan Caravan Vans and Toyota Hiace. The most popular Vancon camper is a one-tonner, although smaller, more compact models have recently been made available in Japan. These smaller models include the Nissan Vanette NV200 750Kg and Townace 750Kg. Popular manufacturers from other countries also compete on the Japanese market. Volkswagen, Fiat, Dodge, and Mercedez are a few of them. These campers have high performance as no modifications are made to the body. Due to the size, the handling is quite easy, but this also limits the room space. Therefore, it is ideal for couples or families of up to 4 people. If you are looking for a Vancon camper in Japan, then there are a diversity of options available in both local and foreign brands.

Advantages of Vancon Campers

• Due to their size, these campers are stable on the road

• It is more convenient to park than larger campers

• These campers are aesthetically pleasing as they are converted from good looking vans

• Similar to any other van, they are great for daily traveling.

Disadvantages of Vancon Campers

As the space is very limited, it will impact the following:

• Very little space for a bath, kitchen, or toilet

• Very limited luggage space

Vancon Camper Add-Ons

Vancon campers are campers that were converted from vans.

• FF Heater – these heaters can effectively heat your camper by using a small amount of electricity and fuel.

• Auxiliary battery – This is the secondary battery that will be used to run electrical supplies in the camper.

• Auxiliary battery charging – This will enable your alternator to charge the main battery, after which the charging is switched over to the auxiliary battery to charge driving the camper. This is very economical, as there is no need for a secondary alternator.

• External power supply – This can be used to charge the auxiliary battery by using power from an AC power supply. This will enable you to fully charge the auxiliary battery at home or any campsite before traveling.

• Ventilator – Ventilators are used to regulate the temperature in the camper and also ventilate the air to get rid of odors, pollutants, and condensation.

• Inverter – An inverter converts 12V DC car battery power to 100V AC household power. This will enable you to run household appliances from your camper battery.

• Side awning – The awning is more convenient than putting up a rooftop tent.• Solar panels – Sometimes it is not possible to get power from the area you are parked at, or your camper remains stationary for a long period, which means your alternator will not be charging the battery. In this case, it can be very beneficial to get a solar panel to help charge the batteries during the day.

Cabcon Campers

Cabcon campers are campers that were converted by only leaving the driver’s seat (cab) of a truck. This makes this camper the size of a room and it almost feels like driving with a house behind your seat. The most popular Cabcons are converted from the Isuzu Elf, Toyota Cam Road, Isuzu Be-cam, Toyota Hiace, Toyota Toyoace, Fiat Ducato, or Toyota Dyna. It is the size that makes a Cabcon camper so popular, and when you compare it to other campers, they all seem very small or narrow. At most camping sites there is a separate area available where buses and trucks can park, which is also the ideal spot to park a Cabcon.Smaller Cabcons, which are converted from a Toyota Liteace, Mazda Bongo, or Nissan Vanette, are also becoming popular nowadays. The smaller size makes it much easier to handle, however, it lacks horsepower when compared to the bigger models.

Advantages of Cabcon Campers

• Because of the size, you can install larger appliances• It has higher heat insulation performance.

• It has a box shape and the corners of the ceiling do get narrower to the top as with other campers. This gives the Cabcon even more space.

Disadvantages of Cabcon Campers

• It is wider than the Vancon, which means it needs a bigger space to park.

• Because of the harder truck suspension, the ride may not be as comfortable as the other camper options.

• Due to the size, the stability is not as good as the Vancon.

Cabcon Camper Add-Ons

• Toilet – This is a very convenient add-on, especially during bad weather or traffic jams.

• Household aircon – As the Cabcon is the size of a room, you can install any household aircon in it. This provides a wider variety of options.

• Refrigerator – You can install a standard 65l refrigerator, or even a large 90l one a Cabcon• Suspension – A standard requirement for a Cabcon is a stronger and harder suspension, stabilizers, and shocks.

Light Campers

Light campers are usually converted from a 660CC Kei by remodeling the roof and room. The compact body, easy handling, and low purchase and maintenance cost make them extremely popular. They usually have a pop-up roof for increased room size.

Advantages of Light Campers

• Due to its compact body, it is very mobile. It can be used to drive and stop almost anywhere. It can drive on roads that may be inaccessible for other campers.

• Easy handling

• Low purchase and maintenance costs

• Light on fuel

Disadvantages of Light Campers

• The accelerator can get stuck at high speeds, which results in continuous engine rotation at high speeds. This makes the engine wear on long distances more than other vehicles with similar torque and power.

Buscon Campers

Buscon campers are constructed by converting a mini-or microbus. They are popular for their two-room layout with the bedroom at the back and dinette in the middle of the bus. It can also be expanded to have a living room. It is recommended for a bigger group, for example, parents with children as well as grandparents.

Advantages of Buscon Campers

• Comfortable ride – Vancons and Cabcons are converted from commercial vehicles that are not designed for comfortability. Buses are specifically designed to transport people, which makes the ride much more comfortable than commercial vehicles. This makes a Buscon a great choice when comfortability is a priority

• Very spacious – it is one of the largest domestic campers. The width is just over 2m, which compares to the Cabcon, but it has a length of just over 6m. This makes not only the room size very big, but there is also a lot of space on the chassis. This provides a large load capacity and a lot of room for various appliances.• Easy handling – As the minimum turning radius of a minibus is basically the same as a van, which makes the handling very easy.

• High driving performance – Buses are designed to carry large numbers of people and are therefore equipped with a powerful engine. This makes the driving performance of a Buscon high and there is no need to worry about engine displacement. Commercial vehicles, on the other hand, have some engine displacement and are not as powerful.

Camping Trailers

Trailers are not very popular in Japan compared to campers. Although, camping trailers are starting to gain popularity.

Advantages of Camping Trailers

• Affordability – Because trailers don’t have engines, it makes them cheaper than a self-propelled camper, which makes them a popular choice. Their price is around a third or half of the price of a self-propelled camper. The maintenance cost of a trailer is also a lot lower than other campers.

• Spacious – As the design of a camping trailer is simple and requires no engine, there is a lot of space available.

• Various Facilities – The camping trailers sold in Japan are mostly imported from other countries. These camping trailers offer various facilities like beds, comfortable living areas, and kitchens.

• Lower taxes, maintenance, and inspection costs• A bigger range of play – Leave your trailer at the campsite and use your car to drive around. This means there is no risk of getting stuck as with a camper van.

Disadvantages of Camping Trailers

• Trailers are also considered vehicles in Japan, therefore liability insurance and automobile tax are required. For this, a vehicle inspection is also required every two years.

Camping Trailer FAQs.

Question: Do I need a towing license for a camping trailer?

Answer: If the weight of the trailer is less than 750kg then you do not need a towing license. Look inside the trailer – sometimes it states “No towing license required”.

Question: Do I need an SUV to pull a trailer?

Answer: No, a 1800CC passenger vehicle will be able to pull a 750kg trailer.

Question: Is it difficult to tow a trailer?

Answer: The hardest part of driving with a trailer is reversing. This will need some practice, as everything happens backward. If this is something you struggle with, you can push the trailer by hand or get a mover with a remote control to park the trailer.

Conclusion: Campers can be quite expensive and may cost you between 6 and 10 million yen. If you are not a regular camper, it might be a good choice to rent one. Another option is to buy a pre-owned camper at a used car auction. Buying a camper at an auction will be much cheaper than purchasing it from a specialty store, as these stores normally add a really high-profit margin.As campers are not as abundant as cars and the number of camper vans is fewer, it might take some time to find a camper of your choice.There are various live auctions like CAA Auctions, USS Auto Auctions, TAA Auctions, and JU Auctions where dealers auction off pre-owned vehicles. Here you will be able to bid on vehicles and the highest bidder wins.If you are interested in buying a camper, it is highly recommended to visit one of these auctions but if you are looking to import then you must deploy or hire an exporter and auction broker from Japan. We recommend to consider a 22 year old car exporter in Japan beforward and chat with them. This may be the start of you living your dream lifestyle and going on regular mountain or fishing trips with your camper. A camper is perfect for giving you an enriched, relaxed and private life.As mentioned before, if you do not want to buy a camper, whether because of the high price, limited parking, or just because you can’t find one you like, go ahead and rent one in the meanwhile until the day comes that you can buy one. Otherwise, go for the cheaper option and purchase a camping trailer.

We hope this article provided you with all the information you need to choose and purchase a camper or camping trailer. Best of luck with your search!

All about Camping vehicles available for sale. “We’ve gained a lot from living in the city, but as we get older, and going through this pandemic, we see the value of being close to family and having land.” As work becomes less tied to the office or disappears completely, the pandemic is fundamentally changing the appeal, necessity and feasibility of living in a big city. (Washington Post)

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