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Bumcamping in Japan

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My cousin Donna and I went "bum camping" in Japan with two folding bikes.
Bum camping means plunking your bum down pretty much anywhere and calling it a night.
Japan has less crime than we're used to and a tolerant attitude toward homeless people.
Their little blue tents are tucked here and there in parks and under bridges.
We figured "How hard can it be?".

At Nikko, we found a nice spot in the woods. In the next town we camped on an out-of the-way terrace in a park. That went so well, the next night we camped in a prime waterfront spot in Ueno park, Tokyo.

Donna's folding bike cost $60 at a "Cainz Home" hardware superstore in Japan. It's nice. Buy your bike there unless you're very tall or picky. Her sleeping bag cost $10 in a Japanese discount sporting goods store (sports authority I think). It's plenty warm. Remember when things were expensive in Japan? They're a lot closer to China than we are, and it seems like they get better stuff from there for less than we do.

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Step 1: Cops Have Low Prestige in Japan

Picture of Cops Have Low Prestige in Japan
After we were fast asleep a crew of patrolmen woke us up with flashlights. Their gutteral exclamations indicated we were in a place not aproved for sleeping bums. Our Survival-Evasion-Escape instincts kicked in. We spoke to them in English.
This paralyzed them for two reasons:
1: They were too embarassed to attempt their English in front of co-workers.
2: Not knowing where each stood in Sempai order for English, it was impossible for any of them to take the lead. (Sempai is seniority in a mentorship structure. Two people can shift in and out of Sempai role as they engage in various activities depending on who has attained highest rank in the specific activity.)

They made various gestures seen in Manga comics and went away. We slept well for the rest of the night. Park Attacker Man seen in that poster also left us alone. (I'm illiterate now, is that really what it says?)

When I'm by myself I'm paranoid and stealth off somewhere to sleep invisibly. If I'm really paranoid I'll disappear even more, pitch a tent and sleep in the scrub a few yards off to one side of it. I'm told I snore like a dying monster, which isn't great for a stealth program, but oh well.
On this trip I had Donna to protect me, so we boldly camped like the great bums of old.
lloyd19316 months ago
Major kudos to U2. What a trip!
ilpug2 years ago
definetely doing this, but in america.
Kubuntu ilpug2 years ago
Not nearly as safe. Perhaps you ought to reconsider?
ilpug Kubuntu2 years ago
Man, i can assure you, if i do this, it will not be the most dangerous thing i have done by a long shot. I have many hobbies that are dangerous, questionably legal, and not morally wrong. Something like this might actually be a welcome respite to crawling through drainage tunnels or buildering.
triumphman2 years ago
Wow, you got to go before the meltdown! Lucky you! It would be very dangerous to do what you did today! I envy you!
loosestool2 years ago
showers? bathroom?
So I'll be in Japan for 6 weeks this summer... hmm... this may be worth a try just to do something crazy!
Mrballeng2 years ago
I feel like I got a little vacation to Japan by reading this. Thanks I really enjoyed it.
Kenny-c3 years ago
Thanks your nice bumcamping report in Japan. I enjoyed very much.

The signboard at Ueno Park is looking for the victim not a park attacker. It's too bad, his picture look terrible.
jakalas4 years ago
 Hi

This is great, I'm from Africa and our currency isn't great so it would prob be the only way for me to see Japan. I just have one question, where did you wash / use the bathroom?

Thanx
phoenixx1004 years ago
Definitely an enjoyable read...
yanggers4 years ago
That is just a amazing piece of enginnering right there," said FaqMan while pointing to the entirety of Japan on the map.
Whatsername4 years ago
Thanks for sharing your tips and adventures! Really enjoyed. My daughter says we need to do that and is wondering if we can camp near Studio Ghibli.
TimAnderson (author)  Whatsername4 years ago
Absolutely! I don't know where that is, but since it's in Japan, there's guaranteed to be a park, bridge, or mountain nearby!
Wade Tarzia5 years ago
Interesting as usual! I do miss the style of your old trip logs. I think the Instructables format is limiting your narrative creativity -- i.e., the medium is not matching the potential message. Don't take this the wrong way -- just an observation from a fan of your former reporting style!
I agree. Also, I've read about it enough times without explanation: What's the reason for sewing the boxer shorts fly shut?
TimAnderson (author)  Leon Close5 years ago
I get plaid ones and sometimes wear them as shorts with nothing on top. I sew the fly shut so I don't have to worry about my man-thing flopping out accidentally.
i wear the same kind of underwear LOL and i have sewn every one of them shut too! i don't know what's wrong with them, but the cut always seems 'wrong'... the front doesn't stay closed...!!!! yup so my underwear all have little hand-stitched spots on the front. ... so my wife came in to the bedroom one morning, and there i sat, naked at my desk, still wet from my shower, furiously sewing up the front of my last pair of clean underwear... HAHAHA ah, good times.
Ahh, it all becomes clear.
I am also sure that some state or nation has on its law books a definition of underwear which includes ease-of-access to the plumbing; therefore, by sewing the fly shut, you now have legal outer-wear and you cannot be arrested for indecent exposure. The plaid helps a lot, of course.
FaqMan5 years ago
That is just a amzing piece of enginnering right there.
is that a papbst in the back ground ???? oohh i want the can
shadow129525 years ago
i had a dream of going to japan for only 2 days but when i went to leave my house i woke up:( now im obsessed with going to japan any idea on how mush $ it would be to there from indiana?
Just google for flights there, they're probably not too hard to find. Might not be able to fly direct from indiana though, you might need to go through somewhere else first and then on to Japan
Sandisk1duo5 years ago
5 star hotels in Japan are like $60 a night
A simple 4 star hotel in Narita, will cost you approximately $280 per night. I lived in Japan (stationed in Iwakuni Marine base), and there are some "hotels" which they look like boxes packed side by side and up 3 high that can cost you just about that per night. They are comfortable, clean, have AC, and a small screen TV, however; if you are claustrophobic.. you'll be for the ride of your life.
I was also stationed in Iwakuni a few years ago. Things down there seem to be more expensive than if you go to another region... it's not just Yamaguchi, Hiroshima (of course) was very expensive, but when we stayed out in Osaka for a few nights, it was surprisingly cheap, something like 40 bucks a night at a pretty nice hotel. For the record, California Chicken is awesomeness when you're out in town tired of noodles
...or yaki soba
To be honest, I never went to any of the soba shops... not even the one down by the the gym/medical center area.. I worked the Navy equivalent of power plants, so I didn't really have any time... every day for lunch was a quick run to Crossroads and usually a taco or sub. ... But... I did hear good things. :) Our barracks were on the north end of base, so when it came to lunch/dinner on days off... since the galley food tore my stomach up, I'd usually make a quick run to Lotteria for the shrimp burger... or Fuji Grand for one of the shops on the top floor. :)
Your comment brings lots of memories. When I stayed there we only had the "tomidachi club" a Wendy's and couple other things. Nice PX.. I lived there one year and left for the Gulf war, after that I was in Korea, and YES !! the Philippines. Did an Asia hop, then left the Corps.. Semper Fi
I was actually in a Navy squadron attached to Mag-12... we were the first to do that. The MCX was great there... everything you needed and then some... GREAT uniform shop... little hard to get Navy stuff ordered in, but thems the breaks. I would've LOVED a Wendy's, not there anymore... the tomidachi club is only what I can assume became the "Honet's Nest"... big club beside near golf course... and if the golf course wasn't there when you were, it was just to the left of the movie theater if you were looking at the south gate. Didn't spend much time there... Navy and Marines get along fine when there's no drinking involved... so, after a little fight made it way back to the barracks we were at (1686) it led to 2 full barracks emptying out and becoming a huge brawl. PMO showed up, said "FREEZE!", most of the Marines snapped to attention, Sailors went running... and that's the last time I went there. lol. BUT... I don't have anything against Marines, they were our brothers out there and we hung out A LOT after that. I even worked some TAD with the supply guys for @ 4 months, which was a bit of a shock for me. Marine's LOVE their PT... a little too much for my tastes. lol Actually got invited to a friends wedding out there on Miyajima... a smidge outsite Hiroshima. So it's not like we were oil and water, just when drinking was involved... ... wow, long rant. Sorry about that. ANYWHO, yeah... Iwakuni was a AWESOME place, I went all over Japan while I was there and Iwakuni always had the "home" feel to it. That's actually why I've been saving my GI Bill to go to college at Temple University in Tokyo, so I can get a degree there and work on teaching English back down in Yamaguchi. We did pretty much the same tours you did I'm betting. Korea, Thailand, Oki, etc etc. I only spent a little over a year there, and I made some of my best memories of the service in Iwakuni... great place.
Lol.. YEAHHHH BAR FIGHTS !!! miss them ... Funny thing my brother in law was in the Navy and stationed in the same base for a few months, so I went out "drinking" with my buddies, I guess he did the same and a fight broke up.. got caught in the middle of it, got hit on the back of my head, turned around punched the living sh...t out of the guy and >>> Oh my ... holly sh...t ... was my brother in law.. he didn't talked to me for about 2 days.. years later we still laugh about it. .. You know, us jar heads, are brain washed and fighting is a hobby.. too much testosterone ... I served 1 year in the USS Inchon and USS Nassau .. Hated those da....d ships... worked my butt off... you know what the say: " join the Navy see the world... join the Corps police call the world... Yeah, the golf course was there in 1990. Loved Japan... great place to be, very friendly people
People who have never experienced Japan are definitely missing out. Unfortunately Japan has changed alot since the days when I was there ( mid to late 80's ). I still have in-laws in Hiroshima so luckily I still get to go back from time to time. Some day I would like to travel the entire country to see what all I have missed. Until then I still have Iwakuni...yeah!
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to go back. is one of those things, first university, then work, then family ... well I hope I can go back one day. I would like to do that as well, travel the country, specially visit the birth place of Aikido O'Sensei' s old school. regards Pedro
The Tomadachi club was on the Mainside ( the side where the Main PX is located ). The Wing side ( near C gate ) had another club that I can't remember what they called, but, basically only enlisted Marines were permitted inside. The club next to the Main gate and the movie theater didn't exist back in the day! We spent more time out in the ville when I was there ( 4 corners to 3 corners )...those clubs rocked...especially Sorrento's.
Or maybe you know what they are called? (the tiny bunk room things, that is) Thanks if you do!
Do you know what they are called? (the tiny bunk room things, that is) Thanks if you do!
Capsule Hotels - Most offer some extras like a Sauna, Coffee Shop etc, some (most of them) have been known to refuse service to foreigners.(Mostly because they do not respect their strict rules and are too loud). My advice: don't plan on spending more than a night in one. Business Hotels are much nicer, and for the few extra dollars you get the privacy. P
Excellent! Answered perfectly for me, thank you.
glad could help
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