You can import a small motorhome to turn your Kei truck into a motorhome
I again thought about importing a vehicle from Japan. This time, I find myself looking at small kei trucks, and in doing so, I stumbled upon a type of motorhome I didn’t even know existed. You can turn a kei truck into the cutest little motorhome with a Mystic J-cabin Mini. Oh yeah, get ready to go “awww!”
I admit that the concept of a kei motorhome is something I had never considered before. You can find all kinds of kei van motorhomes in Japan, and I even wrote about one. Still, I always thought of kei trucks as agricultural vehicles or something to haul a small motorcycle. But now, thanks to Japanese motorhome manufacturer Mystic, it’s time to fall down a rabbit hole of pocket motorhomes.
Mystic has been a long-time player in Japanese motorhomes. The company opened in 1991 and has since amassed an impressive lineup of campers. Mystic seems to offer something for everyone, from campers that fit in pickup trucks to campers built on a commercial truck chassis and even a camper that could be towed by a kei car. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that the company has just 26 employees.
The motorhome that caught my eye in the company’s lineup is the J-cabin Mini. It works like most RVs here in the US. You drag this bad boy into his place in the bed of a kei truck. In this case, Mystic says it can fit anything from a Honda Acty to a Mazda Scrum. The company notes that you should beef up the chassis and suspension before you plant them in an older kei truck.
After weighing down your already slow-moving kei truck with a motorhome, you’ve got a living space that’s apparently good enough for two adults.
The feature list is as small as the RV, but you get a sink, dining table, HVAC, house battery, and stabilizer jacks. Other options include an awning, fridge, portable toilet, stove, better insulation and more. If you upgrade to the higher spec J-cab Mini W, the interior becomes quite cozy with a vintage feel.
Mystic does not rate the weight of these campers, but at 3.23m long they are still within kei regulations.
Opting for the J Mini W cabin also gives you an exterior that looks vintage. This thing is only a shower and solar panels away from being a viable motorhome!
Now here is the kicker. While your favorite Japanese cars may be stuck behind the 25-year import law, this motorhome shouldn’t be. Pull-out motorhomes are not vehicles like a car, truck bus, motorhome, or trailer. So importing something like this should be treated as freight. The closest I’ve found to confirmation is an old customs ruling suggesting that a van motorhome from Canada should be taxed under the classification of vehicle parts and accessories.
People on the forums seem to support the idea that there is no import ban in your path. I contacted customs for clarification.
The cheapest price for a Mystic J-cabin Mini is around US$13,900 ($19,296). That’s not bad, but you’ll also have to ship it to the US and then pay tax here. Then, with a little patience and maybe a little luck, you can have the smallest, slowest way to camp in a truck.