Camping had been rapidly gaining popularity in Japan since 2020, but many campers are noticing signs that the ‘camping boom’ may be nearing its end. Japanese users discuss the end of the boom and why they think it’s actually a good thing.
Popular camping-themed shows such as the anime Laid-Back Camp and a TV program which highlights the freedom of camping alone titled Hiroshi’s Camping with Solitude have successfully inspired many to go out and try camping for themselves. The spike in camping’s popularity has led to existing camping sites becoming filled with new campers and has created a rising availability of camping gear shops. However, now that the series are past their peak in popularity, the pastime is showing a drop in interest as of late. Japanese users on X (formerly Twitter) are discussing the apparent death of the camping craze.
Laid-Back Camp, an anime about high school girls enjoying camping has become popular with many fans because of its easy going pace, scenic settings, cute animation, and for showing viewers the pleasures of camping. The anime began airing in 2018 and has encouraged many of its fans to take up the outdoor hobby. Laid-Back Camp even released a few informative camping magazines introducing popular camping gear equipment, teaching readers how to camp safely, and how to follow campsite rules.
However, it seems as though not everyone was happy about the new addition of anime fan campers. Some campers who were fans of the pastime before it became trendy are excited about the impending decline of ‘otaku’ campers. Apparently, many of the new campers didn’t have good manners, some of the complaints being that they were often loud, littered the campgrounds, and broke rules. One X user posted about garbage that campers left behind: “With the recent camping and barbecue craze, I see people leaving garbage and used items behind and it makes me feel that people who cannot respect nature are not qualified to do these activities. Since when did people have such terrible manners… Don’t do it just because it’s a fad, and if you’re going to do it, a bare minimum of etiquette is necessary.” Additionally, camping sites charging hotel ranged prices and popular outdoors gear continuously being sold out have also been reported, likely due to the hobby’s increased popularity. Some campers are happy to see the activity’s interest decline. Another user commented, “As I thought, it’s getting easier to get reservations. It’s not the end of the camping boom, but it’s calming down a bit. I have nothing but excitement for the downfall. I want things to go back to how they were 10 years ago.”
Now that popular camp-themed shows are declining in popularity, some fans have apparently lost their motivation to continue the hobby. One sign that tells of this is the influx of used camping gear and other outdoors equipment appearing in thrift stores. It’s not uncommon for anime fans to take up the hobbies of their favorite characters. Similarly, earlier this year, there were many Bocchi the Rock fans who were inspired to learn the guitar just like the anime’s protagonists. However, months later it seems as though many fans lost interest, abandoning their guitars (Related Article).
With anime fans moving onto other activities and those who had been settling for camping due to COVID related travel bans finding new ways to spend their vacation time, the number of campers has undoubtedly decreased. Many ‘true’ camping enthusiasts may be looking forward to the death of the camping craze, but not all campers are convinced that this is the end. According to Japanese camping YouTuber MAECAMP, there is a lot of evidence that the pastime might still be maintaining its popularity. They talk about how obtaining a spot at camping sites can still be quite difficult to do if you’re not quick about it. Additionally, MAECAMP claims that new campsites are still being created even now and big name outdoors companies as well as cheaper general stores are continuously making and selling new camping gear, so the appeal of camping is still very present. They hypothesize that the decline in campers is most likely due to Japan’s hot summers temporarily discouraging people from spending their time outdoors. They go on to guess that the amount of secondhand camping gear being out up for sale may not be due to people getting tired of camping, but may just be campers upgrading their equipment. They conclude their theory by stating, “The number of campers around me is increasing rather than decreasing, and some people say that the craze is over, but the truth is that I personally have yet to feel the end of the boom.”
Although camping anime seems to have initially inspired many in Japan to go outdoors it seems as though it may have only been temporary. With the recent decline in people seemingly interested in camping, individuals who’ve been fans of the camping life before it gained popularity are enjoying the fall. Only time will tell if the camping trend is really at its end, though for now those still interested in the pastime can take advantage of the decrease in campers and cheap second-hand outdoors gear.