New campsites keep popping up in Hokkaido, including ski slope and hot spring sites

"ban.K Camp Field" is a campsite fashioned on a ski slope, something rare even on a nationwide scale

New campsites keep popping up around Hokkaido. The cause is a rapid increase in the popularity of outdoor activities to avoid contact in closed spaces amidst the COVID -19 pandemic. This year saw at least ten facilities open up, mainly in the Central Hokkaido area. Campsite management businesses are brainstorming to attract new users, with some campsites even featuring hot springs as their highlight attraction.

In early August at “ban.K Camp Field” in Chuo Ward, Sapporo, many people enjoyed activities like outside barbeque next to their tents. In June, the operating company for the Sapporo Bankei Ski Area cut the slope in front of the center lodge into tiers and divided the land up into 53 segments. Located a little under 20 minutes by car from central Sapporo, the area is easily accessible. Its weekend operations are stable at about 80% of capacity. The company reports good results, commenting, “A lot of people are using the area, with local families being our main customers.”

“Eniwa Hot Spring Honoka” in the city of Eniwa opened a camping area at its hot spring site, and partially due to setting fairly reasonable prices starting at 1,500 yen per adult per night with a free hot spring ticket included, the space has been continually full, especially on the weekends. In response, this month Eniwa Hot Spring Honoka rushed to expand the available space to approximately 4,000 square meters, nearly twice the initial size.

There are currently an estimated 350 campsites across Hokkaido. In normal years, there are usually about two or three new sites opening up per year. But the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted the recent outdoor boom even further, resulting in at least 20 new facilities opening last year. While momentum is starting to level out a bit, new campsites may possibly continue to open up for some time.

Hanaoka, a Sapporo outdoors journalist who is knowledgeable about campsite business management, asserted, “If camping is not transformed into a new tourist activity, the boom will fizzle out in several years.” Hanaoka stressed the need to attract new users including foreign tourists and, to make sure popularity does not fade, the importance of improvements and educating campers about campfire and pet etiquette.


Sapporo Bankei Ski Area