In this feature of Vanlifers, we introduce EriTaku Couple (Eri and Takuya) who are living a mobile lifestyle on the road. We were impressed by their mobile van lifestyle, living and traveling all around Japan. Find out more about their experience in our exclusive interview below.
Tell us about your experiences so far in this kind of mobile lifestyle, and when did you start?
Takuya: As we started in April this year, it’s been about two months. I’ve had experiences before with road trips back in my student days, but it was the first time for Eri. I first met Eri in August 2018, was engaged by the next month and married by the next. So actually it’s been less than a year since we first met!
Wow, really? You seem so close, so it’s surprising that it hasn’t been that long!
Eri: Before we met in real life, we knew of each other on Twitter. At that time I was working as a consultant in Singapore. I had a job lined up in Hong Kong for the following month, but I had free time up until when that new job started. So I went back to Japan for a while and I was in this café in Shinjuku. I was posting on twitter to meet anyone who was in Shinjuku, and at that very moment Takuya appeared.
Then he asked me “I’m going to Ehime on a road trip in four days, do you want to come with me?”. I was a bit surprised at first, but I had free time and he seemed interested, so I said yes! By the time we had got to Osaka, we had started dating and we were engaged by the next month, which brings us to now. So you could say that it was the road trip lifestyle that brought us together.
It seems like a destined encounter, and very fast paced!
Takuya: Yes, a lot of people say that! (Laughs) I think part of it is that when we first met, we both had the desire to live on the road and our values clicked straight away at that point. Another thing we often both thought when we lived in Tokyo before we met was that we always wondered why people have to pay so much to live in the same place and go to and from the same place every day? So we both thought that we could go on a trip and search for what we truly wanted out of life. However, we argued a lot when we first got married! (laughs)
That seems surprising? What were the things that you would argue about?
Eri: Actually, at first, we weren’t living together on the road in our car at first. At first it was just a general idea of working together while traveling. Takuya originally worked as a freelance design architect, but one day he had an offer from one of his friends in Saitama to start a business. I was against the idea, because it meant that we wouldn’t be able to travel!
It was also because we had talked about not just being together but working together to have an enjoyable lifestyle. There was one time where we got a job experiencing agriculture in Ibaraki, and were able to travel there by car. We really enjoyed it, and it was from that time that I started thinking about living a more nomadic lifestyle on the road.
I see! Although I would think that even though you are working freelance, being together as a married couple and working remotely must have its challenges?
Takuya: Yes, it was. It was by destiny at that time that we saw an advertisement on Twitter for a marketing and advertising job from the CEO of a company called MOVED, when I was looking for ways that we could work to sustain this lifestyle together. The key words in that advert were “remote work possible”. So I applied straight away and they were interested in the both of us and hired us together. Now jobs in design, writing, marketing and event management are outsourced to us on a contract arrangement. Because of this, our mobile life actually facilitates our work, as we can actually go directly to events in various places or get information or interviews on location directly.
That’s amazing! It looks like you have really landed on your feet! Can you tell me about any particular place that left a particular impression on you?
Takuya: Everywhere has been amazing, it’s impossible to choose… We have shown the places we have visited on the road since April 2019 on our Youtube channel. The reason why we started youtube was partly to have a record of our memories together, but also to ease the worries of our parents, who were quite concerned when we started this adventure, so we would send them videos to let them know that we were ok (laughs).
Recently, we did a piece on Yokoze Town in Saitama, which is impressive due to its efforts to expand its working population, and is making increasing efforts to show its hidden attractions to those who visit. It was from that where we got the idea to advertise the attractions of all regions in Japan to increase the popularity of our Youtube Channel, blog and Twitter (Eri & Takuya).
That sounds like amazing work! This might sound like an obvious question, but does it ever feel cramped living together in a car?
Eri: Before I started this mobile lifestyle, I used to think “can we really live together in such a small space!?” but Takuya’s car seats can all be pretty much flattened, meaning that there is enough space to sleep together comfortably. Of course it’s difficult to spend a whole day in the car, so sometimes I will often go to my “office” in Starbucks!
That’s true, there are Starbucks everywhere in Japan. Where do you often spend the night when traveling around?
Takuya: We often stay at “michi no eki” road stations. We can check photos of the facilities to find the ideal place to stay. However, we do find that it is difficult to find places in road station car parks that have sufficient safety and security, so we often rely on the services of Carstay. We actually went to one of their recommended road stations “Ito Marine Town” in Shizuoka, and it was amazing. We could see the sea in front of us it had an Onsen hot spring and there was a large Don Quixote store nearby with local food and produce, open until late. More importantly it was a place that was very photogenic and provided great photos for our site – it was very exciting for both of us.
Traveling to different road stations around Japan sounds fun! You mentioned buying produce, does that mean you cook often as well?
Eri: Yes, mainly Takuya though! (Laughs). Actually I used to be a marathon runner, so I am very conscious of food and nutrition. Therefore, I will often look for foods that have a high level of nutrition. Once we have the right ingredients, we will often cook and have our food in the car. Takuya’s muscle training is essential for him, so he will often lift me up as part of his workout regime! (laughs)
What an amazing couple! We wish you both the best in the future. Finally, we would like you to give a message to all of those interested in starting their own “Vanlife” trip.
Takuya: The main thing I want to let people know is that it is a lot of fun! I strongly recommend it as a date plan for couples. It is similar to camping, but it is something that relies on both of you cooperating as a team, which brings you closer together! We will show more of our recommended VANLIFE date plans in the future, so watch this space!
Eri: I’ve found that it is enjoyable for women too. The places we stay at have better security than the average camp site, we don’t have insects and there are plenty of places that have clean restroom facilities. I would recommend for anyone to try at least once for anyone who is interested!
Interviewees: "EriTaku Couple" (Eri and Takuya)
A couple traveling around Japan on the road while working remotely. Takuya works as a design engineer and Eri works as a writer and marketer, living the “VANLIFE” lifestyle by staying at places around Japan, for work and for pleasure🚙