NIHON LIFE: A kei car Sunday


For a number of years we’ve passed a lone Subaru 360 perched atop a rack built from scaffold over a similar-age Sambar truck. I kept thinking, “I must stop and photograph it before it disappears.” Like a Honda S500 no longer to be found in a similar garage a bit further up the Boso coast, it wasn’t going to stay there forever. 


This last week though, the owner had removed it from its precarious Sambar perch and was preparing to undertake some work on the brakes, we assumed with a view to putting it back on the road. Like its Subaru truck sister, it is largely complete, and apart from the covering of many years’ worth of dust, looks like it requires little work.


The garage-mate of a GT-Four Celica and Honda Beat, we are not quite sure what fascinated us the most — the slight nature of the brake drums and and wheel center combination, or the spindly build of the jack stands. I suppose when a 360 has a mass of just over 400kg, you hardly need a massive anything.

On our return, we hope to see it running, and the Sambar perhaps too being similarly prepared.


The purpose of the outing, though, was a run to the local Cainz Home store, where a heavily outfitted Suzuki Jimny parked in a handicapped zone proved that kei trucks need not be timid.

Followed by some sightseeing with visitors from out of town, we ended up with a Buddha in the mist. Incidentally, Mount Nokogiri is where the Top Gear Nissan GT-R vs Bullet Train race across Japan finished in Chiba. Fore more on the Boso Peninsula, it in Grand Touring Part 01 and Part 02.

Skorj is a photographer living in Japan and co-founder of

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7 Responses to NIHON LIFE: A kei car Sunday

  1. Bart says:

    That Jimny is badass.

  2. Dave Yuan says:

    There’s something really charming about an old car under so much dust yet is (or at least looks to be) in such good shape.

    I love Jimnys! Even the late model ones. If I do have one, I’d probably keep it a bit more low key than that one, tho I do like the fender flares…

    • Skorj says:

      Indeed, as this one has always intrigued. Especially as it was up in the rafters, and you could always see it as you drove past above all the parked cars. I will see if some follow up photographs are needed…

  3. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    If this (Jimny) is your kinda thing, go to Iceland for a vacation Went there and you can rent one. Stunning countryside with lots of Bad-Ass Jimnys, Samurais, Trackers etc…

  4. Negishi no Keibajo says:

    Ran by an old Honda Beat on the way to lunch in Tokyo last week. There was a (new) Mini parked next to it. The Mini looked huge next to it.

    Here’s a (French) video showcasing the Honda Beat. I have not a clue as to what he’s saying but there are some neat shots including a cutaway. For God’s sake, skip to 1:25. The blabbering in the beginning is not informative. If there’s a bucket list, I want to bring in an Autozam AZ-1. 1992 + 25 = 2017!

    My QOTD: Is there a way to post a picture in the Comment? If so, what is the size/file limit?

    • Ben Hsu says:

      Yes, you just use standard HTML tags (see the gray text below the Reply box). Width limit should be about 600 or it will look weird.

    • Skorj says:

      A red AZ-1 with the gray resin over-fenders front & rear, the Ferrari-like rear valence, and wearing a set of RS Wat would be my choice! Though, the new S660 from Honda floats my fune a bit more these days – that’s one cool kei!

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