Written by Cheeserland (http://cheeserland.com/)
I decided to check in to the gorgeously constructed white tent— GRAMP DOME Ise Kashikojima —a glamping facility in Shima City, Mie Prefecture, to experience first-hand what’s all the hype is about.
Just like many fellow urban people who value comfort and convenience more than anything else, I too, never understood the hype and appeal of camping miles away from civilization. The fact that many of my acquaintances in Japan have turned hardcore camping fanatics have had me scratching my head.
Wouldn’t it be much better if we just tuck ourselves into a nicely made bed and have warm food cooked professionally served in front of us by politely bowing Okami-san, amidst lay-ers and layers of Japanese omotenashi?
What about the freezing weather out in the wild? What about the absence of the solace of private bath and toilet facilities? What about bugs? What about bad cooking skill and the very real possibility that all my food ends up burnt? What about cleaning up after your own mess? Seriously though, burnt rib-eye steak is a deal breaker, even if it is my own fault.
But like they say, never try, never know.
Glamping is like an entry level to the real deal. Compared to regular camping, you do get a nicely made bed and even a pre-installed heater and a fridge – at least in GRAMP DOME Ise Kashikojima. Your only hardship, pretty much, is to put on a jacket so you can walk over in a chilly night breeze to the bathroom, which is – *gasp* – equipped with the most brilliant bidet system. Out in the middle of nowhere. Japan just never stops to amaze me.
Someone does most of the hard work, so you don’t have to, but you still get a taste of what staying out in the vastness of nature is like.
Glamping is indeed luxury. Not in the material sense, but in a way where you discover rich-ness between modern lifestyle and its connection with nature. It is enrichment of life, in-deed.
The burning sunset. The starry night sky. The calming bonfire. The moderate challenge of having a tiny bit of daily convenience taken away, thus resulting in a positive realization that we have indeed taken so many things for granted. And more importantly, a deeper sense of gratitude for just how comfortable we urbanites live our daily life.
Another important factor about this connection is the word “terroir.” Terroir is a French term used to describe the idea that each food has special characteristics that are influenced by the place of origin. The climate, the soil, how carefully the farmers nurture the food they produce – these end up influencing its taste, smell, appearance and texture.
At GRAMP DOME Ise Kashikojima, for example, we were served Mie’s local pride — Matsusa-ka Beef, fresh seafood from Ago Bay, and also locally grown vegetables. There’s even the Ise lobster deluxe plan if you are in the mood to splurge.
We grilled the meat, cooked the rice, and challenged ourselves to different ways of savoring the terroir, including serving BBQ Matsusaka Beef slices with rice and warm dashi, and a dash of wasabi — ochazuke style.
After sundown, the glampers helped themselves to a free flow of beverages and a buffet of Häagen-Dazs ice cream, gathered around the takibi (bonfire), and danced to a live music performance.
Gazing into the gently flying sparkles of the bonfire and into the beyond while sipping on my warm oolong tea, there was something warm glowing inside of me despite the chilly seaside breeze.
It was like I had just unlocked a new level of understanding for something I never thought I would ever be able to appreciate, and that was awesome.
This article turned out more sentimental than I would like it to be, but that’s because I was so overwhelmed with all kinds of fuzzy emotions typing this under the wonderous starry sky above my warmly heated glamp dome at midnight. I’m so thankful.
Most of the time, glamping does come with a luxurious price tag, indeed, but the precious lessons learnt and the experiences to take home with you are forever yours.