Shitada is unique in all of Japan for having not just some great camping facilities, but places to enjoy camping throughout the year. You might not think it’s for you, but once you’ve tried winter camping, surrounded by pristine white snow and the natural beauty of Shitada (and, with the top gear available here, far warmer than you’d expect!), you’ll soon have an even better appreciation for the snowy season.
Located right on the spacious grounds of outdoor maker Snow Peak’s headquarters, this is perhaps Japan’s only year-round camping facility. Located well away from city lights on a hilltop setting, it not only provides great views of Mt. Awa and Mt. Sumon, but often breathtaking starry night skies. Camp with your own equipment, or use Snow Peak’s “Hands-Free” plan which provides everything needed to enjoy an outdoor stay. Complete facilities include camp sites with parking, shower room, electrical service, coin laundry, vending machines and more. Reservations are required, at least one week in advance, at 0256-41-2222.
Located right on the Igarashi River, close to its junction with the Sumon River, and almost underneath the stunning rock formation Yagigahana, this car camping facility is operated by locally-based outdoor manufacturer Captain Stag. Wake to the calls of the birds and the soft river sounds.
Ideal for car camping, with tent locations (rental of Captain Stag gear also available), electric service at every site, cottages, a cooking prep and washup area, toilets, shop. Convenience stores and other shops are nearby; the hot springs facility Iiyu Ratei is just a walk across the bridge over the river. Open mid/late April to November (reservations are required; in Japanese at 090-7199-9547.
Tucked into the mountains far back along a winding road, this beautiful riverside area is one of the finest fishing spots in all of Japan, and a great place to just camp (and where your cell phone won’t be able to ring—no service out here!). Full camping facilities area here; just gather up your gear and reserve through the Park center building; charcoal-making demonstrations are also held during the camping season.
It’s also a great place to try your hand at fishing for the native iwana (char) and yamame (cherry trout) (again, bring your own gear, as rentals are not available). The Fishing Park area is strictly catch and release (catch and keep areas can be found further downstream; be sure to check before taking fish from the river). A fishing license is required (daily or seasonal) and can be purchased at the Park building. 160 Yoshgadaira, Sanjo-shi, 955-0000. Tel (in Japanese) 090-3226-5912, 9 am to 5 pm.
This “Road Station” sells some of the best locally-produced fresh and wild vegetables, as well as local specialties including the famous Koshihikari rice. If you’re camping at one of the local campgrounds, this is a must-stop for your cooking supplies! The restaurant within the Michi no Eki also serves handmade soba noodles and other dishes featuring the best seasonal ingredients.
Ideally located for access from all of Shitada’s campgrounds, the Iiyu Ratei onsen facility is great place for a soak after enjoying the area’s great outdoors. The view of Yagigahana from the rotenburo (open-air bath) is amazing. The in-house restaurant also serves a variety of dishes using local ingredients.
Shitada’s pristine streams are ideal for fishing, especially fly fishing and Japan’s own unique, reel-less tenkara style of fly fishing.
The flocks of swans from Siberia that reside here in winter are the most famous, but birds abound here, including the elusive but beautiful akashobin (ruddy kingfisher).