Former school transformed into a glamping site

By Ryuzo Suzuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior Photographer
Glamping & Port Yui, built on the site of a former elementary school, is seen in Shimada, Shizuoka Prefecture on September 4. This photo was taken by drone.

SHIZUOKA – A closed elementary school in Shizuoka prefecture has been reborn as a glamping facility and is attracting many visitors to the area from both inside and outside the prefecture.

Shimada City Yui Elementary School in Shimada prefecture closed in March 2021 due to reasons including Japan’s declining birth rate. However, after undergoing extensive renovations, it reopened in March as Glamping & Port Yui, offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy high-end camping in modern facilities.

Located roughly between Tokyo and Nagoya, Glamping & Port Yui is close to the Makinohara Plateau – one of the country’s largest tea growing areas – and Mount Fuji Shizuoka Airport.

The renovated site has 21 air-conditioned tents using one of five models. Each tent can accommodate up to six people and has an all-weather dining area and a relaxation area equipped with sofas and beds.

The old school building has been fitted out with shower cabins and toilets. The principal’s office is now a bathroom, while the home economics classroom has been transformed into a popcorn-making space.

The school gymnasium remains a designated emergency evacuation center for local residents, but glampers are permitted to use it to play ball games.

By Ryuzo Suzuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior Photographer
A transparent tent in the center of the site serves as a self-service refreshment bar at night.

The site also has a space reserved for local residents for the sale of agricultural products and the holding of exhibitions.

The school opened as a secondary school in 1873, using a temple to hold classes. During its 148-year history, more than 3,000 students have graduated from the educational institution. However, the year before it closed, it had only about 30 students.

A 38-year-old company employee visiting from Nishio, Aichi Prefecture, who spent the night with his wife and 3-year-old son, said, “We arrived late last night and I played with my son in the gym. It’s not possible to play with my child at school, even in my hometown, so it was a whole new experience for me.

Kazuhiro Fukazawa, President of Aiwa Connect, which operates the site, said: “I heard that it is quite difficult for foreign tourists to visit ordinary Japanese schools, but it is possible here at our establishment. of glamping. Since the site is very close to Mount Fuji Shizuoka Airport, I expect the demand from foreign tourists to increase when the coronavirus pandemic ends.

By Ryuzo Suzuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior Photographer
Visitors to Glamping & Port Yui enjoy swimming in the renovated old school pool. The pool was open until September 30 this year.

By Ryuzo Suzuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior Photographer
The Glampers play basketball in the old school gymnasium.

By Ryuzo Suzuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior Photographer
Visitors play on a piano that belonged to the school.

By Ryuzo Suzuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior Photographer
A father and child make popcorn in an old home economics class.

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