Kei Truck Cutie

My neighbor up here in the hills recently bought herself a used Japanese kei truck at auction. She’s not the type of person that I normally think of as owning a 4WD kei truck. Now I’m not saying that I think kei truck owners are all landscapers, hunters, independent building contractors, or hard core off roaders (although I know that a large proportion of our customers here at Japan Car Direct who buy a used kei truck from us fall into roughly one of these categories), rather she’s….well…how do a I say it? She’s a beauty, a babe, a doll, a cutie. She doesn’t own a Winchester Model 70,

she doesn’t drive a power shovel,

and she doesn’t have monster mudders on her Jimny.

Not the kind of girl that I usually think of as bombing around in a kei truck, what with her sunshine smile and bright “anime eyes.”


Kei Truck Fever

Her name is Aya and she bought a cottage up here about a year ago. Then she bought a parcel of forest land. Then she started cutting wood….and then she got Kei Truckitis, otherwise known as Kei Truck Fever.

Kei truck fever goes like this: You have, or develop a need for, four wheel drive transport; maybe you are a hunter, maybe you run a small landscaping business, maybe you are responsible for maintaining a park or leisure facility like a golf course (see here on our Japan Car Direct Blog for more about kei trucks used on golf courses and farms and much more),

or maybe, as in my beautiful neighbor Aya’s case, you have a bit of forest land that needs working. You look at various off roader options: like Jeeps,

or Land Cruisers, or Land Rovers; or those little off road half bike half wagon things that seem kind of tippy to me (but maybe I’m just timid),

or perhaps a big full size pick-up truck or maybe something from Russia:

Maybe you’ve even considered my personal 4WD favorite, the Suzuki Jimny (see our Jimny page here).

But whatever you’ve been considering, none of them are really right. Maybe these vehicles are too big for your off road needs, maybe they don’t have enough load capacity, maybe they have too much; maybe they suck too much gas, maybe they simply cost too much money.

And then you find out about Japanese kei trucks and the fever grips you.

You start to consider kei trucks like the Suzuki Carry,

the Honda Acty,

the Subaru Sambar (my favorite which I’ve written about on our JCD Blog here)

or the Daihatsu Hi-Jet. Like what Aya bought.

(For more, check out our Japanese mini trucks available models)

These mini trucks are small and light but they carry a lot of stuff, from logs to trophy deer, from tools and gear to soil and building materials; And they do it all while merely sipping fuel…and regular gas at that. They are simple and easy to fix if ever anything goes wrong. And they are kind of quirky and cute into the bargain. When you realize they are the right off road option for you, you start thinking constantly about getting a good used kei truck direct from Japan and, before you know it, you’ve got kei truck fever.

But don’t worry, this condition is easily treatable by simply having the need fulfilled. Just buy a secondhand kei truck from us here in Japan.

“And it’s easy to drive,” Aya, the Kei Truck Cutie, told me last week when I asked her why she bought that used Daihatsu Hi-Jet. “I’ve got an automatic only driver’s license and I’m not really a car girl. But I need the kei truck for my work on my forest land, my “patch” as I call it. The first thing I had to do there after the first open area was cleared for me, was to lay down some nice red gravel to give me a parking and working space. I did all that with the kei truck to carry all the tools and gravel in there. I did it all myself, me and the kei truck. Over time I’ll get that forest land just right.”

I asked Aya: “Did you haul all the cut trees out of there yourself too?!”

“No, no. An excavation company cleared that initial space for me, but I’ll be maintaining the rest of the forest land from now on and I’ll be using the kei truck myself as I do that work: hauling out the dead wood or any good logs I want to use for heating my cottage.”

“But Aya,” I told her, “you’re a city girl, you’re from Tokyo, I just can’t imagine you mucking around in the woods.”

“Oh, I’m sick of the big city. I’m already half way relocated out here anyway now. I only want to go to Tokyo for shopping. And, you know, I drive my kei truck there now; all the way on the highway. It’s a turbo and it easily handles the highway for me and, in downtown Tokyo, in all those tight little streets,

that kei truck is an ace. Total winner. I’ve already put 120,000kms on him driving to and from my cottage to the city! I love that little mini truck.”

Aya’s Advice on Buying a Mini Truck at Auction

As we chatted about her Hi-Jet (we’ve looked at them elsewhere on this Blog here)

she gave me a few more useful pointers for people thinking about buying a used kei truck here in Japan:

“I talked it out with our regular garage in the city and the mechanic told me to go for the highest auction grade that I could afford; not to bankrupt myself, but just to aim as high side in grade and price as I could comfortable manage, ‘It’s going to be a new member of your family, so don’t stupidly low ball,’ he told me, ‘but don’t pay over the odds, either.’ So, when the right truck came up, I bid. We got it and had it delivered to the garage and he went over it for me. It didn’t really need anything, although I’ve since changed the tires from summer light truck to all seasons. The original rubber was kind of “eco” and maybe a bit hard. Actually, I felt that those tires were a bit slippery, but the all seasons are fine. My Daihatsu kei truck is more comfortable than my Suzuki Jimny, believe it or not.”

I asked Aya: “Have you had any problems at all with that Hi-Jet?”

“Nothing. Zip-oh. No problems at all.”

“But what about climbing all the way up here on the mountain? We’re a thousand meters up.”

“Again, no problems. It’s a turbo and just rockets right up the mountain road without breaking a sweat. Even higher up to the Skyline (she’s talking about Route 180 here on Mount Fuji) that truck just rocks.”

“Have you used the Hi-Jet off road yet?”

“Oh sure. Just mostly on my “Patch,” and the forest back there, but he goes thorough that easily. There’s just a button I push and four wheel drive comes on for me.”

“You have to stop to go into four wheel drive, right?”

“Nope. I can do that while moving. So I’m thinking that will be good on the snowy days up here.”

“You know,” I told her, “In my old Jimny I had to stop, get out of the car, lock the hubs manually, and then shift the transfer case in to 4WD hi or low, and them go forward in four wheel drive when I needed to go off road.”

“Oh, Dave,” she said, hitting me with those anime eyes and the sunshine smile, “you’re real old, aren’t you!”

So these days, when the weather is right and the forest is calling her, I see Aya put on her work gloves and her blue rubber boots,

hop into her happy Daihatsu Hi-Jet,

and zoom off to her “patch” to muck around in the forest, smiling and sweating and loading branches and leaves and logs into the kei truck as she clears the land and gets things “just right.”

If you are looking for a good used kei truck at a good price from Japan, register here with us at Japan Car Direct and we will set you up in a good unit, be it a Hi-Jet like Aya’s or another of the great little, super practical mini trucks we have here at the auctions and private dealers that we partner with. You don’t have to be a cutie and you don’t have to have “anime eyes,” because I’m sure your good second hand kei truck from Japan will provide the smile.