You might call it a "camper", "campervan", "caravan" or one of the many other names that these vehicles go by. The bottom line is that Japanese camping vehicles are becoming a hit to import directly from Japan. Pacific Coast Auto has some of the best experience with JDM campers and can help you import your own camper directly from Japan.
This guide is comprehensive and includes all the info you need to decide if importing your own camper form Japan is right for you.
At PCA, we want you to be happy with your camper purchase and import. Please note that personal camper imports is not recommended for all interested parties. Importing a camper is a riskier process than importing a standard passenger vehicle. Campers have many components and equipment that could potentially go wrong. Also note that the amount of wear to the camper interior can vary greatly, and is not always easily estimated via the mileage and condition report.
A special note about auction-buying. PCA is primarily an "auction agent" and exporter from Japan. We buy vehicles on your behalf. We rarely have inventory vehicles. Buying a camper from Japanese dealer-auctions will get you a sharp discount over retail prices. However, this is at the expense of vehicle information, and condition certainty. The auctions don't test the camping equipment, inspections are limited, purchases are as-is, and sales are final. PCA will work hard to make sure you are happy, but we must work within the systems of Japanese dealer auctions.
Most auctions don't show camper interior pictures at all. If this is too risky for you, we can buy from dealers as well. However, please be advised that dealers will mark up campers to the tune of $10,000 - $20,000 or more over auction prices.
There is more information below in the section "Methods of Buying Japanese Campers".
These are like a Japanese version of the VW Eurovan Camper. They are based off of the popular Japanese vans. They come in diesel or gasoline engines, typically from 2400cc - 3000cc. Some have Turbos. Pop-up tops and fibreglass extra high roofs are available in some models. They get very good fuel economy but have smaller interiors. Nearly all of them are available in 4WD. Typical standing height is about 150 - 180cm.
Toyota Hiace Camper (Cruising Cabin)
Nissan Caravan Camper
Honda Stepwagon Camper or Weekender
Mazda Bongo Friendy Camper or Weekender
Mitsubishi Delica Van Camper
These are one step above the camper vans. They are still small with tiny diesel or gasoline engines, but typically have a bed over the cab and a touch more space on the interior. They are often unique looking and full of Japanese style. The small engines can be underpowered so expect to get there a little later. They are available in 4WD and often have the best off-road ability of all Japanese campers with good approach and departure angles and a short wheelbase. The interior height is typically about 170 - 200cm.
Toyota Lite Ace Camper
Toyota Hiace Camper
Mitsubishi Delica Truck Camper
Mazda Bongo Truck Camper
Toyota Hilux Truck Campers (Sunrunner, Galaxy)
These are probably the most popular campers from Japan. They are built on the ultra-reliable industrial truck chassis and are a unique shape and size. They are still amazing on fuel but the "industrial engines" are built for longevity over performance. They are slow on the highways with comfortable speeds of about 100 - 120 km/h, and less uphill. They often have showers, toilets, fridge, stove, two or three beds, and tend to have higher quality interior materials. Standing height is usually at least 185cm, but is often 210cm or more. These are guaranteed to be the coolest campers at the campsite and the 4WD ones won't get stuck.
Nissan Atlas Camper
Toyota Camroad Camper
Hino Dyna Camper
Isuzu Elf Camper
Mitsubishi Canter Camper
Kei is a class of ultra-small cars in Japan. These vehicles are super tiny with even smaller engines. The max engine size is just 660cc and they are limited to strict size restrictions. Recently there has been a surge of popularity of kei campers. They don't fit much in them but there is a bed, flip down surfaces, cabinets, fridges, etc. They only got popular around 2005 - 2010 so there aren't many choices for earlier models, but they are extremely cool.
Suzuki Every/Carry Camper
Honda Acty Camper
Daihatsu Hijet Camper
Subaru Sambar Alladin
Bus-chassis campers can be a great way to get a larger floorplan and a big level of style. Like the Medium trucks, they are built to be reliable and take on high kms. Due to their size, they are a bit rarer than the smaller campers, but patience with the auctions can pay off in a big way.
Toyota Coaster Camper
Nissan Civilian Camper
Since camping is super popular in Japan, many Japanese people opt for the uniqueness of imported campers in order to stand out at the campsite. Every year hundreds of Euro and American campers are imported. Sometimes, the prices become low enough that you can import them back to Europe or America for less than buying the equivalent camper where you are. Note that this is an expert-level option which requires that you know the values of campers well, and have a good understanding of the total costs to import.
VW Eurovan Camper
Mercedes Benz Sprinter or other Campers
GMC Safari, Chevy Astro Campers
Ford E350 Campers
-Unique campers that will stand out anywhere in the world
-More fuel-efficient than most comparative campers
-Often more reliable than non-Japanese campers
-Smaller in size for those looking for a smaller camper
-Easier to drive as a result of size and tight turning circles
-If you break down while travelling, you might be stuck without parts
-Engines are smaller so not suitable for high speeds or long inclines
-Tire sizes are sometimes not available in your country
-Servicing might be difficult in some areas
Dealer auctions are where we buy 95% of the vehicles we purchase and export from Japan. This is a great way to cut out all middlemen. This is how our dealer customers buy all their inventory (including campers). It's not always the best way for an individual to buy a camper. These are not retail-ready vehicles. While prices are very low for these vehicles, there's also a significant risk of making a purchase and being unhappy with the condition of the camper. Campers are like small houses and the auctions are designed to sell typical vehicles, not small houses. As a rule of thumb, older campers, higher mileage, unkept exteriors (including rust), and lower-end models are hot-spots for higher risk. In general, higher end units are kept in better condition and will be a lower risk.
Auction search tool - auction.pacificcoastjdm.com.
For searching campers, you can easily see all campers available by bypassing the make and model of the vehicle and instead just using the checkbox to filter "only campers". Use that in combination to the filters for year, mileage, etc.
We can buy from dealers in Japan that normally sell to the Japanese public. We contact them, ask questions and negotiate the price. Dealer campers will have heavy markup over the auction prices, but you usually get far more pictures, the campers are usually cleaned up and ready for retail, and the dealers can answer simple questions. We also pay the tax for you since it's an export (we get that back in a few months).
The biggest dealer site in Japan contains about 95% of the vehicles for sale - Goo Net Camper Search
If you follow the link, you will see all camping cars in Japan. You can narrow down the search using the side bar, but it might be a bit tricky in Japanese (sorry).
Note that prices include the 10% tax so remove 10% form the prices to get the cost before PCA service fees.
This is the option for the most risk-adverse. You can expect to pay a much higher price but you can go see the camper yourself in person, try out the bed, see if it has head room, make sure it's correct, and then pay for the camper. This is certainly the right way for some people to buy a camper. It's more expensive but it's much lower risk of being surprised with something you don't like.
As part of our fees, PCA will set up the shipping to you and send you the appropriate documents to import the vehicle to your country.
Note that campers are large and the cost of ocean freight is often in the $2000 - $3000 USD range. The actual amount is based on the unique vehicle size as measured at the port. We won't always know the exact amount for shipping but can give you an estimate based on our previous exports.
Import costs are for you to check into. For some countries, we can give an estimate, but please contact a customs broker for an accurate cost.
If you have further questions, please feel free to contact us via email or using the contact form at the bottom of this page. Our website has a lot of great information on the PROCESS, COSTS, and FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.
If you are looking to get the ball rolling right away, CLICK HERE for the setup process for a purchasing account.