Our camping season picked up right where it left off last year – three days of continuous rain. Although the rain wasn’t quite torrential, it swelled Hokkaido’s rivers in the Tokachi Subprefecture enough to put the kaibash on any potential fishing we had planned on doing. Instead our camping trip turned into a food tour of the region, taking in the local delights at Nakasatsunai’s michinoeki. Numerous stops were made for fromage gelato, soft ice cream, as well as a long journey for doughnuts at a secret location more than an hour from the campground.
With all the rain we also had plenty of time to explore our newest Hokkaido camping destination: the Snow Peak Tokachi Porishiri Camp Field. I have to admit I was a little skeptical of this campground, especially after my recent experience at the Tomo Playpark near Akaigawa. For those unawares, Snow Peak is a fairly high end outdoor wear and camping products manufacturer here in old Nippon. Its products are pricey, but high quality. I like to think of it as the Japanese Patagonia, despite being founded more than a decade prior in 1958. Just to get an idea, check out this Snow Peak dog cot for $124.95! Some of their mugs and kitchenware is slightly more affordable, so I’ll stick to that for now.
A campground that is managed directly my a major outdoor brand left me a little anxious. Were we gonna get hoodwinked into buying a ridiculously priced tarp or tent? Was this going to be a glamping resort like some of the bigger Auto-Camp locations, with kids racing around on scooters, vending machines, and onsite restaurants? Luckily this campground offered none of that!
Although there is a very nice Snow Peak shop on the premises and several Snow Peak tents set up outside for you to peruse, they do a good job at keeping it relatively scaled back. The road encircling the campground is unpaved which immediately brought me a sigh of relief (no kids racing around). The shop also sells firewood which you can burn in your own stainless steel portable fireplace (also sold on site should you need one). It seems all campgrounds in Japan do not offer open pit fire circles. Something about danger (危ない) or some other Japanesey safety slogan. (ご注意!)
So despite the rain, we tried to take full advantage the sites amenities, cooking s’mores on the open fire, using the electric hookup for nabe, Genghis Khan (grilled lamb), and all kinds of other great edibles. Our biggest success was the baked potatoes we buried deep in the coals and almost cooked to perfection.
There were some moments of brief sunshine. Just enough to allow us to set up our site upon arrival and break it down after two nights. But almost nothing in between.
Despite the weather, the Snow Peak facility in Tokachi ranks at the top of my list for family style, yet still rugged camping. Half the sites have electric hookups, the bathrooms and communal dish washing areas are top notch, and the staff was pleasant and unobtrusive.
Most importantly the clientele is quiet. One if the most peaceful Japanese camping experiences I have had thus far. Plus I can’t knock Snow Peak’s gear, it is quality stuff, though a bit out of my price range in terms of family camping tents and tarps.