Growing up, every summer vacation was spent outside - cycling, hiking, and of course, camping. So when I moved to Japan, I was excited to see campgrounds show up all over the place on Google Maps.
My first experiment in going to a campsite in Japan, however, completely failed. After biking up a seriously steep hill for what felt like hours, I found huge iron gates completely blocking off access to the campground. So instead I camped further up the road on a tiny spit of land alongside a creek. It turned out fine, but as I was packing up my tent the next morning, a guy came biking past and asked if I had been camping by myself. Totally innocent, but seriously, guys, don't ask women who are clearly alone in the woods if they're alone. It makes you sound like a serial killer.
My next chance at checking out a campground came unexpectedly several months later while I was training for a marathon. I was running through the Hokuzan park and saw campsites! Score! I came back a few weeks after that with my bike, my tent, and some questions. How much? Free. When it it closed? Never (I can confirm this, as I was not the only one freezing my butt off in a tent during the new years holiday there a couple years back). Just register at the house when you come in, leave your car at the parking area (its fine to bring bikes in), and claim any free spot as your own!
Free, open year-round
Toilets, running water, a washing-up sink area, and a few covered spaces. There are no showers on the premises, but there is a nice onsen just down the road.
Having a campfire on-site is fine - if you come by car, I'd recommend stocking up on everything you need in Fukuoka City. There isn't much for shops around Mitsuse, apart from a 7-11, a Michi-no-Eki, and a few restaurants with rather limited opening hours.
Right from the campsite you can hop on a really nice bike/walking path that circles the entire reservoir. The park is also well-known for its fishing and golf, if you're into that sort of thing.
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