Hello! I'm Kaori Sakai and I'm a 20-something year old girl that's recently been obsessed with car camping! This time I went on a road trip to Numazu, Shizuoka and stayed at The Old Bus. Let me tell you all about The Old Bus and my awesome car camping experience there!
What's The Old Bus?
It's an abandoned bus in Yokohama that's been brought to life as a "Bus Bar" and that's been loved by countless of artists for 30 years. In March 2018 it received a notice of removal, and upon hearing this news and fearing the loss of the beloved bus, the owner Masumoto-san decided to restore it. He raised funds of up to ¥750,000 on a crowdfunding website called "Campfire." In the same month, he used a tow truck to transport it from Yokohama to Numazu and have it fixed. Today, the bus is once again open for public as a "chillout space," reminiscent of its heyday in Yokohama.
You'll find it along the Shizuoka Prefectural Route 17 in Numazu and about 2.5 hours’ drive from Tokyo. You can also book a parking space and camping site near it on Carstay. Here is a video of the route from Tokyo to The Old Bus and the experience.
Arrived at The Old Bus!
The place I stayed at this time was along a quiet road, with very few people and only about one bus per hour passing by. In addition, driving on Prefectural Route 17 gives you a majestic view of Mt. Fuji—although what's really famous in the area are the Fuji Five Lakes. Still, the view of Mt. Fuji was the best I'd seen so far and I couldn't stop taking pictures with my phone (and my Instagram posts were flooded with likes♫). I also really liked the calm sound of the waves as the road was next to the ocean.
Over the parking lot was the famous bus... It's raw awesomeness radiating from all angles.
And posing as a model.
Let me show you the inside of The Old Bus!
I booked a stay on Carstay and the owner, Masumoto-san, showed me inside. The interior was maintained to look just like what it was in Yokohama to keep the same patrons coming. The ceiling of the bus was full of business cards, telling me much this bus was loved by everyone. Of course, I snuck mine in too! (Lol) I look forward to seeing my card again when I go back. It was very cozy inside with retro furnishing that's totally perfect for eating or drinking, hanging out with friends, reading, or simply relaxing.
Masumoto gave me his homemade plum soda. The sweetness of the plum and the fizziness of the carbonated water were very refreshing when I gulped it down. From my seat, you could clearly see the expanding view of Mt. Fuji and Suruga Bay. A refreshing drink before a majestic view over the sound of gentle waves truly soothed my body and soul. I want to teleport to this place every time I mess up something at work and get upset. (Lol)
There is also a private camp site!
Go to the wonderful Izu hot spring that you can experience for 350 yen!
Since I was going to go car camping at night, you're probably thinking...What about bath time?
Well, the Shuzenji Hot Springs were only a stone's throw away from the bus. I actually went to the most popular one called Hakoyu ("筥湯") and it cost me only ¥350 (~$3.50 USD). Depending on the price, you can go to a Japanese Cypress bathhouse for an authentic Izu-style hot spring experience. It takes 30 mins by car from The Old Bus.
The Old Bus at night is like a picture book
I went back to The Old Bus after much of my tiredness had washed away at the hot spring. (Masumoto unlocked the door for me later time than usual time.) It was already 10 p.m., way past the sunset. You couldn't see the outside view as much this time; instead, the night further enlivened the retro-romantic atmosphere of the bus. It was luxurious.
There's a big couch in the back and was quite spacious. Apparently, they hold events and other things inside the bus, and I thought that was a very smart use of space! I want to hold an event there, too, one of these days! Even the canine ambassador, Ushiiro, seemed to love the couch. He had very beautiful fur and was so cute!
Stay overnight in the car. And when I wake up in the morning...!
Masumoto-san, his wife, and a traveling acquaintance were chattering at the bar counter. The bar, by the way, had exquisite selection of alcohol. You wouldn’t be able to resist! Anyway, I loved the awesome view of Mt. Fuji at daytime, and the cozy retro atmosphere at night. As I was enjoying that comfort and warmth, a starry night enveloped the sky. I fell asleep like a rock…I couldn't believe it! (I think I was slowly getting the hang of car camping.)
Next thing I knew I was waking up to the soft glowing sunshine coming in through the windows. Still dazed in my morning stupor, I wondered where I was until the sight of Mt. Fuji and the sound of waves brought my senses back to The Old Bus. Such a pleasure-loving start of the day!
Unfortunately, I had to immediately check out that morning. But for you, I highly suggest drinking a freshly brewed coffee and eating a hearty breakfast while taking in the view♫
That was my wonderful experience at The Old Bus. When are you having yours?
Don't forget to bring your family and friends or your special someone when you stay.
And I'm sure that your connection with that special someone will blossom into something more…!?