“I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.” –Henry David Thoreau
When Rin arrives home from school one day, she finds her usual moped is gone, replaced by a Yamaha Tricity. She learns from her father that he’d taken her moped for maintenance work, and the workshop has given her a loaner. Because she had plans to camp that weekend near Hokuto, Rin decides to take the Tricity out. On the open road, she’s blown away by its handling and performance. Rin’s first destination is Enmei Hot Spring, where she soaks in the onsen before recalling a conversation she’d had with Ena earlier, who had mentioned that the trifecta of five minutes of warming up in a sauna, followed by a five-minute dip in spring water and then relaxing in the open air for five minutes has rejuvenating properties. Rin decides to give this a go, and finds that Ena was absolutely correct; she’s also left hungry by the experience, and sets off for lunch. She finds a restaurant named Takaoka and orders the tempura set, featuring a variety of tempura on rice with a side of miso soup and pickled vegetables. Lunch leaves Rin immensely satisfied, and she goes grocery shopping at Himawari Supermarket, purchasing local ingredients for her dinner. Marvelling at the Tricity’s performance, she heads off to her campground at Nyukasa JA House, a 32.5 kilometre journey. As night falls, Rin sets up camp and enjoys a delicious dinner of a bacon and eggplant and tomato sandwich with tomato soup. Under a starry sky, she reflects on the day and smiles, feeling that there is no better way to relax than by means of solo camping. Heya Camp△ had spent most of its run focused on Nadeshiko and the stamp rally that Chiaki and Aoi had put on for her, so Rin was largely absent from the proceedings, and so, in its OVA, Heya Camp△ allows viewers to follow Rin’s excellent adventure. The OVA is described as a bit of a sponsored programme with Yamaha, who wished to promote their Tricity line: a second generation was introduced in 2019 to address limitations the first generation model. Described as possessing exceptional stability and handling, but with a weaker engine for a vehicle of its size and requiring frequent maintenance, the Tricity has not seen the success Yamaha was hoping for. Rin’s experiences with the Tricity are decidedly positive: it is more powerful and stable than her own moped, and overall, the OVA presents a superbly relaxing experience.
Heya Camp△‘s OVA is an immensely peaceful experience that focuses on Rin, who had only made a few appearances during Heya Camp△ proper, and in this special episode, a sense of calm and solitude permeates the entire episode, giving viewers an experience of what constitutes as a trip that Rin considers ideal. While the Heya Camp△ OVA is prima facie a gentle journey, the OVA demonstrates Rin’s growth ever since meeting Nadeshiko: specifically, she’s become a bit more open-minded and flexible. Right out of the gates, Rin’s plans to camp are surprised with a new bike, and she decides to roll with it, immediately finding it to be a fun experience. At the onsen, Rin takes up Ena’s suggestion to try a relaxation technique and is pleasantly surprised at the outcomes, despite the painful cold of the spring water bath. When Rin goes shopping for groceries, her only criteria are that the dinner has to be light and something she can prepare without too much trouble. She ends up picking some local ingredients and using her pie iron, whips up a delicious sandwich. It’s a journey of new discoveries rolled in with the atmosphere that Rin is so fond of. While Rin indisputably enjoys the solitude and quiet of solo camping, the trip that she takes in the Heya Camp△ OVA was one that was filled with surprises, and Rin seems more able to roll with new experiences now to a greater extent than seen in Yuru Camp△. Where Heya Camp△ indicated that Nadeshiko is now more familiar with the Yamanashi area and able to take a more proactive approach in inviting Rin to accompany her and the Outdoors Activity Club, the OVA shows that Rin’s become a bit more open-minded, as well, which sets the stage for what is to come during season two of Yuru Camp△, which was formally announced back in March, shortly before Heya Camp△ concluded. Character growth corresponds with being able to explore new directions, and it will be excellent to see what new adventures awaits a group of friends brought together by their love of Mount Fuji and the outdoors.
Screenshots and Commentary
- Heya Camp△‘s OVA begins with Rin returning home to find a three-wheeled bike in the place of her usual moped. When I published my talk on Yuru Camp△‘s live action adaptation and remarked that I had found the real world equivalent of Rin’s house, I stated that I would not share the location out of respect for the residents’ privacy. Since then, one Izumi Tomiyama went ahead and uploaded the location to Google Maps; Tomiyama is a local and states that the actual building was once a restaurant. Provided that visitors are respectful and only hang out on the outside without disrupting the building’s occupants, I suppose this shouldn’t be a problem.
- Yuru Camp△ had used a fictionalised portrayal of Rin’s house, which is supposed to be closer to the town of Furuseki in Minobu. This town is a short ways northeast of the Minobu High School, which would explain why the area is portrayed as being less densely populated. The trend of inanimate objects speaking in Yuru Camp△ is one of those subtle but enjoyable aspects in the series, and makes a brief reappearance in Heya Camp△‘s OVA: after arriving home, Rin’s surprised to see a hulked-out bike in place of her usual moped, which greets her the same way pinecones and acorns do. In this OVA, viewers are also introduced to Rin’s father, Wataru Shima, who is voiced by Takahiro Sakurai, of Hibike! Euphonium‘s Taki Noboru fame.
- As it turns out, Rin’s moped is out for maintenance, and the shop’s lent her an interim bike, Yamaha’s Tricity. Rin’s a little surprised, but otherwise decides to roll with things, continuing on with her trip as planned. Ordinarily, Rin operates a Vimo 50 moped, which has a 50 cc engine: in my area, a moped must not have an engine displacement exceeding 50 cc, and moreover, cannot exceed a maximum speed of 70 kilometres per hour. The Vimo would therefore be something that someone with a Class VII license could operate. In Japan, different laws allow Rin to operate the Tricity, which has a 125 cc engine displacement, although back home, this would not be permissible (she’d need a Class VI license): my province defines a motor cycle as any two or three-wheeled vehicles not meeting the definitions that constitute a moped.
- Right out of the gates, Rin is impressed with the Tricity, whose larger engine and double front wheels confer superior performance and stability compared to her Vimo. She’s running the Aqua Blue Tricity 125, and compliments the smooth ride she’s getting out of it. Rin’s experience in Heya Camp△‘s OVA brings to mind an adventure I had last year: during the Canada Day long weekend last year, I ended up renting a hybrid for a weekend road trip: while the hybrid does not accelerate or maintain a top speed as well as a conventional vehicle, its fuel economy was incredible.
- After the cold of the drive up from Furuseki, Rin relaxes in the warm water baths of Enmei, who advertises their baths as having a European influence. The entrance fee is 830 yen for non-locals and 460 yen for residents (who need to produce an identification card). Enmei requires that visitors bring their own towels (or else purchase them at the front desk), but soap and shampoo are provided. Visitors generally praise the onsen for its excellent value and cleanness, but some feel the maintenance could be a little better.
- The incredibly warm and cuddly-looking smiles of Yuru Camp△ make a return in the Heya Camp△ OVA; it was Ena who suggested that Rin try a variant of the Nordic Cycle technique. Ena is Rin’s best friend and able to elicit the most interesting reactions from her. Gentle, friendly and somewhat mischievous, Ena’s also somewhat lazy, preferring not to join any clubs and enjoys staying up late, as well as sleeping in. While she genuinely enjoys the Outdoors Activity Club’s excursions, she’s not quite ready to commit to a club yet.
- Saunas are Finnish in origin, making use of high temperatures to encourage users to perspire. In small increments, use of a sauna is excellent for cardiovascular health, since the heat causes blood vessels to dilate, reducing blood pressure and improving circulation, as well as helping stiff joints to loosen up. However, sweating profusely caused by exposure to heat can cause dehydration, and saunas warn their users to spend no more than a quarter-hour inside. Ena’s routine stipulates that Rin is to spend no more than five minutes in the sauna before switching over to the next phase.
- Cool baths at the Enmei Hot Spring draw water from the aquifer; while an elderly lady is enjoying the brisk water, Rin immediately feels uncomfortable with the dramatic temperature differential between the sauna and cool water as a part of the Nordic Cycle: people who do this routine remark on its positive effects, as the temperatures not only impact circulation, but also prompts the contraction of different muscles and helps with skin health, as well. Experts typically recommend making a shorter cold plunge, since staying in cold water for extended periods can lower the body’s core temperature.
- Overall, the Nordic Cycle does have its benefits, and the usual caution should be observed (e.g. individuals with hypertension should not do this activity). Ena’s variant of the Nordic Cycle adds a five minute breather in the open air, allowing the body to recover. This additional wait makes the exercise less taxing on the body, and so, after three sets of three, Rin does feel noticeably more relaxed. This first stop represents the sauna piece of the OVA’s title.
- Heya Camp△‘s OVA has Rin dispense with her longer hairstyle, which is only really noticeable when she enters Enmei Hot Spring: normally, she puts her hair in a bun before soaking in a hot springs, and while some viewers count this change in hairstyle tantamount to sacrilege, I personally don’t really mind at all. This OVA had actually been uploaded to YouTube back in April for a day so people could check it out and was removed after a day elapsed although the OVA was heavily watermarked and deliberately capped at 480p. Discussions of the OVA have been found on Reddit and MyAnimeList’s forums, but do not cover the locations that Rin visits; the OVA’s release to BD means the time is suited for rectifying this.
- Having spent a morning rejuvenating herself at Enmei Hot Spring per Ena’s recommendation, Rin’s worked up an appetite and sets off for lunch. While Spatio Kobuchisawa Hotel does have a Cantonese restaurant on-site, their offerings are a bit pricier. Knowing that Rin depends very heavily on Google Maps (to the point where she often forgets to apply her own judgement and comes across roadblocks as a consequence), I was able to trace down the route Rin took from Enmei to her destination: she travels along the shortest path that Google recommends, leading her to pass by this otherwise unremarkable field in en route to lunch.
- Rin ends up having lunch at Takaoka Japanese Restaurant (高岡和食処), located about six minutes away from Enmei Hot Spring by road. Despite being quite out of the way, locals praise the restaurant for its simple but delicious food, good prices and generous portions, as well as a very relaxing atmosphere, although some visitors have noted that the wait times can be a bit long. Like Enmei Hot Spring, I ended up using the kanji on the restaurant to find its location. I admit that normally, when searching up kanji, I actually use a Chinese keyboard since it’s more intuitive for me: 高岡 means “tall ridge” when translated to Chinese.
- Takaoka’s standard tempura set rolls for 980 yen (about 12.50 CAD) and features miso soup, pickled vegetables and a large bowl of rice along with the tempura centrepiece and tentsuyu, a dipping sauce made from soy sauce, dashi and mirin. Takaoka offers a variety of vegetable tempura in its meal: Rin digs into Japanese leaf tempura alongside eggplant, maitake and jikobo (two kinds of Japanese mushrooms), yam and pumpkin before making her way to sillago (a fish) and last but not least, the prawn tempura. During my trip to Japan three years earlier, I spent one night at Ikenotaira Hotel on the shores of Shirakabako, and dinner encompassed a variety of tempura that proved quite delicious. Here, I also was able to try fiddlehead tempura along with Japanese leaf tempura; the slightly bitter flavour offers this tempura a rather unique character.
- Rin comments that making tempura during camping would be a bit of a hassle: while the batter is made with simple ingredients (flour, egg and water, chilled with ice cubes), it cannot be prepared ahead of time since the batter can’t be kept at low temperatures for extended periods. The process of frying it would also require a pan and oil heated to around 170-180°C, which can prove tricky to clean up in a camping scenario. Curiously enough, air-fryers can be used to make tempura, and while it may not yield the same fluffy batter as traditional oil frying would, the results look delicious. Having already seen that an air-fryer can be used to make sweet and sour pork even more delicious than those of a restaurant (the home-made approach allows me to use less batter and more meat), it is tempting to go and give some recipes out there for tempura a go.
- Watching Rin eat her way through the tempura set brought to mind how Adam Richman enjoys a good meal when he’s not under a time constraint to finish, but it also gives insight into Rin’s personality: she eats her vegetables first and then meat, saving the shrimp tempura for last to savour it. This is, coincidentally, exactly how I eat my meals. I always eat my vegetables first before the meat, and when shellfish is available, I tend to save that for last, as well (e.g. in a surf-n’-turf, I eat the steak before the lobster). This subtle detail suggests that of everyone in Yuru Camp△, I’m the most similar to Rin, and there is truth in this comparison; beyond the order in which we prefer to eat our foods, I genuinely enjoy my alone time.
- Rin thanks the staff at Takaoka for a delicious meal before heading off for her next stop. Local fans of Yuru Camp△ immediately visited Takaoka after the corresponding manga chapter became available a year ago, to experience the same meal that Rin experienced. Through Heya Camp△‘s OVA, the chapter is brought to life and really accentuates the peaceful atmosphere at Takaoka, as well as Rin’s enjoyment of the simple, yet delicious meal that lends itself to the gohan piece of the OVA’s title.
- From the sounds of things, there’s been a bit of a debate on the intertubes as to whether or not Heya Camp△‘s OVA, サウナとごはんと三輪バイク, should be given as Sauna to Gohan to Miwa bike or Sauna to Gohan to Sanrin bike. The proper romanisation of 三輪 in this context is Sanrin, since the kanji is referring to Rin’s Tricity, a three-wheeled bike. In Cantonese, the jyutping for 三輪 is saam1 leon4, which is phonetically similar to sanrin. Unlike Chinese, however, Japanese kanji can have multiple pronunciations; while miwa is technically valid (and sounds a bit more adorable), it is not correct in this context.
- By this point in time, given that I’ve found Takaoka Japanese Restaurant, and with the knowledge that Rin’s next stop is a supermarket, all I needed to do with Google Maps was look up supermarkets in the area. The first result that appears is Sunflower Supermarket (ひまわり市場, Hepburn Himawari Ichiba), and taking a closer look, this is indeed the supermarket that Rin swings by to purchase ingredients to prepare dinner with. Thus, despite lacking any background information from the characters’ dialogue or direct references in Heya Camp△, I was able to locate most of the locations Rin travels to using a simple bit of kanji and Google-fu without difficulty.
- Rin finds Sunflower Supermarket to be very well-stocked, with a diverse array of items; besides local vegetables from the Yatsugatake Mountains (located a mere twelve kilometres north of Sunflower Supermarket) and a bewildering array of spices, Rin’s impressed with their selection of meats. She ends up buying bacon from Hakushū, a small town that was merged with Nagasaka, Sutama and Takane to create the city of Hokuto in 2004. This is why a cursory search for Hakushū will only yield results for the distillery from the area, which has retained its name. Besides a strong selection of groceries, Sunflower Supermarket sells firewood out front.
- Rin remarks that Sunflower Supermarket looks like a great place to shop for camping provisions, and further to this, has a great atmosphere. It would appear that Rin’s never been to Sunflower before, given her remarks. A panning shot of the interior shows that it would be a great shop for locals, selling a combination of everyday necessities as well as unique locale wares. While most supermarkets have a similar layout, smaller ones often have products that can’t be found at larger ones, and I imagine this is one of the joys of living in a smaller town with access to the freshest agricultural products.
- Rin’s final stop for the day is her campsite. This was the only location I couldn’t locate with the techniques I described earlier, but fortunately, I was able to track down the official page from Yamaha, which verifies that all of the locations I found line up, and moreover, provides the location of the campground Rin visits. Rin’s journey ends at Mount Nyukasa, and upon finding a special map of the area, it turns out that there’s a very obscure camp ground at Mount Nyukasa, called the Nyukasa JA House. The location is not marked on Google Maps, but fortunately, Google Street View does have reach out here; upon inspection, the still seen in the OVA lines up with what Street View shows.
- The Heya Camp△ OVA is of a superb animation quality, and enjoying the BD version is the optimal way of really taking in the visuals. The only quibble I have with the OVA is that there are a few places where Rin’s helmet visor, from a distance, takes on an opaque character that makes it resemble the modified helmet with the blast shield that Luke used in A New Hope to train his Jedi reflexes. Naturally, the visor isn’t actually opaque, and this is just a level-of-detail design to simplify the animation. After Rin arrives at the campsite, she sets up camp and goes about making dinner.
- Darkness has set in by the time Rin’s good to go: with her tent set up and a warm campfire to sit by, Rin messages Ena, remarking that she’s rather enjoyed the Nordic Cycle at the sauna, but isn’t still quite feeling fully rejuvenated yet. The exchanges between Ena and Rin show a more spirited side to Rin’s character; while she’s typically stoic and not outwardly expressive, her monologues show that Rin does have the words for what she’s feeling despite not having a lot to say. Through her text messages, viewers can see that Rin is playful and has her own sense of humour.
- The time has come for Rin to begin preparing a simple but delicious dinner of tomato soup and a grilled bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwich with onion, eggplant and pickled jalapeños. She uses the pie iron she’d used to grill a pork bun during her unexpected solo camp trip during Yuru Camp△, when Nadeshiko caught a cold, which leaving Rin to do an impromptu trip. Since then, Rin’s evidently looked up more recipes to see what can be made with the pie iron: besides sandwiches, one can also make pizza, quesadillas, omelettes and even waffles with a pie iron. Like a cast iron pot, pie irons should to be seasoned before they can be used: besides providing rust-proofing, this also helps to create a non-stick coating.
- Heya Camp△‘s OVA shows the result of Rin’s effort in vivid detail: Rin’s homemade BLT and soup combo look delicious. Since the global health crisis’s impacts became increasingly felt, there’s been an uptick of creative recipes being published to help people at home craft delicious and uplifting meals. Good food has been touted as helping people to get through these times, and strong morale, coupled with the slowly declining number of new cases is encouraging. For me, creative cooking means being able to do things like a peanut butter French toast (which was so rich that I ended up feeling that all day), as well as shrimp wor wonton with broccoli and cilantro that was remarkably refreshing thanks to how much flavour the soup picked up.
- For its simplicity, the sandwich is probably one of the biggest innovations in gastronomy since humanity discovered how to preserve food, allowing one to experience a smorgasbord of flavours in every bite: Rin’s sandwich would create a flavour explosion from the savory bacon, crisp onions, refreshing tomatos and a bite from jalapeño from one mouthful. The name “sandwich” is British in origin, and the story is that John Montagu, Fourth Earl of Sandwich, was an avid card player and frequently requested that his meat be placed between two pieces of bread so he could continue playing cards without leaving a mess. Those who played cards with him began “ordering the same as Sandwich”, and became a colloquial way to refer to what had once been known simply as “bread and meat”.
- While Ena’s Nordic Cycle may not have left Rin feeling fully content, a fully day’s worth of solo activities, rounded off with a delicious dinner, does leave Rin rejuvenated in full. In spending a fully day with Rin, Heya Camp△‘s OVA serves one more critical purpose: it shows how quiet Yuru Camp△ would be had it purely followed Rin and her solo camping adventures. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, although it should be clear that a full-season of this would grow dull quickly, even for the biggest Shimarin fans. With the addition of Nadeshiko, Chiaki and Aoi, Yuru Camp△ takes on a much more energetic feeling. A noisy, rambunctious group of campers being Yuru Camp△‘s pure focus would similarly lose its pizzazz, and this is where the genius of Yuru Camp△ becomes apparent: the simultaneous presentation of group camping and solo camping in different combinations keeps things fresh, creating both exciting and calm moments.
- As Rin settles down for the evening and enjoys the solitude of a quiet night under a starry sky, I take a quiet moment to reflect on this post and remark that I am rather surprised that it was as lengthy as it was: it was an immensely fun exercise to locate all of the places that Rin stopped along for her solo trip using the Tricity, using nothing more than the kanji from the frames depicting each area. The end result is thirty screenshots worth of material to present to readers, and I hope that the reader had fun with this post as much as I enjoyed looking up and presenting the details about each spot; it feels like I did a virtual tour of the Hokuto for myself right alongside Rin.
- It should be unsurprising that Heya Camp△‘s OVA scores a well-deserved A+ (4.0 of 4.0, or 9,5 of 10), same as the series proper; the amount of detail that went into showing Rin’s adventure with the Tricity is evident, and while Yamaha might’ve sponsored the OVA to have Rin speak to the Tricity’s capabilities, the OVA itself is never too brazen in being an advertisement for the Tricity. The end result is a clever incorporation of Yamaha’s promotion of their latest Tricity model into an OVA that shows what a flawless solo camping trip looks like for Rin. The OVA is very much a must-watch for anyone who enjoyed Heya Camp△ and are looking for something to tide them over while awaiting Yuru Camp△‘s second season.
Throughout Yuru Camp△, the girls have only camped during the autumn and winter; Rin had previously stated that this is her favourite time of year because the cooler weather means fewer crowds and a lack of insects. Similarly, since Nadeshiko met Rin, she’d been so excited about camping that she immediately began camping with Chiaki and Aoi in the Outdoors Activity Club during winter, becoming familiar with the specifics behind winter camping, from bringing a good camping pad to keep warm and appreciating the importance of dressing in layers, having the right sleeping bags and carrying a few warmers. Yuru Camp△ was a great success in portraying winter camping, as well as the journey it took get Rin to consent with camping with Nadeshiko and the others during Christmas. As such, the realm of summer camping is territory that Yuru Camp△ has yet to explore, and with the first season concluding with Rin and Nadeshiko meeting one another at Koan Campground by Lake Motosu by spring, the second season will pick off where things left off with the first season: Nadeshiko and the Outdoors Activity Club are doubtlessly open-minded and have no qualms with camping by summer, so it will likely take some effort to convince Rin of doing the same with them, and along the way, both Rin and the Outdoors Activity Club will share new experiences, with a few new characters in tow as well. With Yuru Camp△‘s second season set to air in January 2021, excitement for the series is building despite the fact that the second season is still a half-year away. Fortunately, with Heya Camp△ breaking things up, the wait does not feel to be an inordinate one, and given how consistent Yuru Camp△ and Heya Camp△ have been, it should be apparent that the second season will be an absolute joy to watch.