I should say up front that though I’m not an ardent camper, I do like getting outdoors and camping now and then. Before we had the kids, we’d camp at the Fuji Rock Festival and such, and quite enjoyed it, so now the kids are a bit older, and at least big enough to fend off (or try to eat) all but the biggest insects, we decided to have a test family camping expedition last week. I asked around some more camp experienced friends, about where was a good ‘easy’ camp site for families, and camp guru CL over at Shonan in English pointed us at Stone Chair, down in Izu, near Itou, about half-way down the peninsula.
I like to travel light, but with kids, that’s not quite as do-able, as you really need to carry a few more ‘Plan B’ items just in case. Most of the items we’ve been just adding to over the years, so now we’re pretty complete, and I put some of the things we’ve found really useful at the end of the post.
So we threw everything in the back of the car, and set off for Stone Chair, a little nervous that we are technically in rainy season, and the clouds were heavy, but actually we got lucky, since it was beautiful blue skies the whole time we were out and about.
Basic equipment list
The name you see most regarding camping here, is the Coleman brand – they make everything you could need for camping, and a lot more, and seemingly the quality is decent for the average family camp, during Spring, Summer and early Autumn. The ‘stuff’ we took then included:
- Basic Logos 4 person tent ( a bit like this one)
- Thermarest foam air mattresses – I personally think these are worth the money over the rolled blue foam pads
- Basic sleeping bags – mainly Spring / Summer 15degC+ ones for the family
- Coleman quad light (this is excellent as you can give the kids their own light for wandering around).
- A head lamp – always useful to keep your hands free to work on things in the dark.
- Cool box with ice packs for all the food
- Some camping pots and pans
- A camping stove, and we also took our ‘cassette gas‘ one.
- My old Solio – great if the phone / game batteries run low.
- Lots of anti-mosquito and bite spray!
That was pretty much it, the rest were some clothes, books, wipes, towels and the stuff you end up taking with kids to most places anyway.
I should say that the people at Stone Chair were great – they responded well to e-mails and phone calls, and kept their Japanese within my level, and made us feel welcome, but didn’t hang around too much, and let us get on with it.They also seem to have some wood artwork going on and there were some nice pieces dotted around the facilities.
The facilities aren’t too bad either – toilets are clean (if you excuse the inevitable insects), and there are showers available. Much of the space is devoted to tenting areas, all flat and set aside from each other with bushes and trees. If you fancy it, there are also plenty of proper barbecue places, as open camp fires are forbidden.
We also looked at the small lodges available, but who needs those when you have a tent! We didn’t see a shop nearby so you may need to drive to one, and depending on which way you approach the place, the roads can be steep and very narrow since it really is set aways back from the coast, on the side of one of Izu’s mountains, so it’s quiet, and quite secluded.
The fee for pitching our tent for the night, and use of the toilets and such was 6,000yen, though we got another 10% discount as we were midweek, and I think frankly because we were the only people there! So if you’re looking for a simple family camp area, take a look at Stone Chair.