In January 2020, we purchased a dirty old Nissan caravan which had previously been used as a delivery van from yahoo auction for ¥300,000. We eagerly awaited its delivery and it finally arrived 10 days after sending the payment to the garage near Tokyo where it was located.
We then spent around 4 weeks working on our camper van conversion in Japan and turned it into our dream tiny home on wheels!
A trend on social media at the moment is to name your van! We decided to name our van “TONI” since the number plate uses the Japanese hiragana character pronounced as “TO” and the first number is 2 which is pronounced as “NI” in Japanese. Toni is a popular name in English so we thought it was the perfect name for our little van!
In this blog post I am going to introduce our camper van conversion in Japan using images and explain a little information behind our design.
We painted the van ourselves and also installed the roof box and solar panels to the roof of the van. The colour is very unique and we love it! No other van will look the same.
Check out our blog posts below which give more details about the work we have done on the exterior of the van.
We wanted the inside of the van to feel very cosy like a small cabin so that is why we chose wood to panel the entire interior.
We also decided to go with a green jungle design to compliment the wood so that is why we have leaf-patterned cushions, leaf-patterned fabric and we added ivy to decorate the inside of the van. The ivy also helps cover some small mistakes we made when building the van!
It was important for us to have a kitchen in our van since we love cooking and planned to cook most of our meals while living on the road rather than eating out.
We read online that having drawers were very useful so that is why we installed a mix of drawers and cupboards in our kitchen.
One feature of our kitchen is the sliding water tank and sliding cooking table. It’s so useful always having access to water and we use our sliding cooking table everyday whenever we cook meals or boil hot water to make tea and coffee.
We have three storage areas inside our sofa seats in addition to a cabinet beside the bed. Inside the sofa, we use one storage area for Ruth’s clothes, one area for Shota’s clothes and the third storage area is for our onsen bags, extra food and extra gas.
The cabinet is useful for storing cables and drinks. Two of the drawers in the kitchen area are also used for storage for non-kitchen items. We added a roof box which has been so useful for storing extra clothes and outdoor equipment.
Bed / Table
Our table turns into a bed and the process of changing from a seating area into a bed takes around 5 minutes. We have two extra pieces of wood and the table and the pieces of wood fit exactly into position to make a bed base. We use the cushions from the sofa for our mattress.
We wrote an entire blog post about how we made our bed mattress, which you can see below.
We notice that a lot of van lifers do not customise the cab area of their van and they decide to leave the original design. We completely understand that, however, we knew we would spend a lot of time driving and wanted the cab to match the rest of the van!
We completely transformed the cab from being a dirty work van to a jungle paradise! We added jungle fabric to the headliner and painted the entire cab dashboard lime green. We also changed the foot mats and added seat covers.