Clever interior modifications turn parked car into private bedroom.
While Japan has excellent train and bus networks, there are still parts of the country that you really need a private car to practically access. Unfortunately, many of these hard-to-reach yet beautiful parts of Japan are far enough off the beaten path that hotel choices quickly become scarce, and fewer options makes it harder to find budget-friendly accommodations.
However, rental car company Niconico Rentacar has a simultaneous solution to those problems, as it now rents a car that’s specifically equipped so that you can sleep in it.
Just to be clear, the car, a Daihatsu Wake, isn’t a jumbo-sized motor home. As a matter of fact, in its stock form the Wake is the farthest thing from a house on wheels. It’s a kei car, belonging to the class of Japan’s tiniest compacts.
But with a few additions, the Wake transforms into a place to hunker down for the night. Like most keis, the Wake’s boxy frame allows for a surprisingly roomy interior, and once the seats are folded flat, plopping down the specially designed mattress that Niconico Rentacar provides turns the entire interior space into a spacious bed that measures 185 centimeters (72.8 inches) in length.
Of course, it’s going to be hard to get any sleep with light streaming through the windows, so the car also comes with a set of curtains, which can be snapped into place to keep out the sun and give you extra privacy.
Niconico Rentacar says the Nicohaku plan (as it’s calling the service) is great for outdoorsy types who want to hike, fish, or otherwise commune with nature during the early morning or late at night, outside the time blocks when buses and trains are in service. However, it’s not strictly promoting the specially equipped Wake as a camping companion, as its website proudly boasts that renting a Nicohaku car will allow you to save the money you’d ordinarily be spending on a hotel room.
The Nicohaku plan is priced at 10,000 yen (US$93), which gets you the car for two days and one night, with additional nights available at 7,000 yen each. Currently, Nicohaku cars are offered at select Niconico Rentacar locations, which include Hachioji Horinouchi in Tokyo and New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido, one of the best prefectures to travel around by car in Japan.
Of course, you might have realized a potential downside to sleeping in a Nicohaku car, which is that there’s no shower. But remember, this is Japan, where you’re never too far away from an awesome hot spring bath to take a soak in.