I’ve been thinking about importing a vehicle from Japan again. This time I’m finding myself looking at little kei trucks, and in doing so I stumbled upon a type of camper that I didn’t even know existed. You can turn a kei truck into the cutest tiny RV with a Mystic J-cabin Mini. Oh yeah, get ready to go “awww!”
I admit that the concept of a kei truck camper is something I hadn’t ever considered before. You can find all sorts of kei van campers in Japan, and I’ve even written about one of them. Yet I’ve always thought of kei trucks as farm vehicles or something to haul a small motorcycle with. But now, thanks Japanese camper manufacturer Mystic, it’s time to fall into a rabbit hole of pocket-sized pickup RVs.
Mystic is a longtime player in Japanese RVs. The company opened its doors in 1991 and has since amassed an impressive lineup of campers. Mystic seems to offer something for everyone from campers that slide into 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 camper that caught my eye in the company’s lineup is the J-cabin Mini. This works just like most of the truck campers here in the United States. You slide this bad boy into its place in a kei truck’s bed. In this case, Mystic specifies that this can fit on everything from a Honda Acty to a Mazda Scrum. The company does note that you should reinforce the chassis and suspension before planting this down into an older kei truck.
After you’ve weighed down your already slow kei truck with a camper, you get to enjoy a living space apparently good enough for two adults.
The features list is as tiny as the camper is, but you get a sink, a dining table, an HVAC system, a house battery and stabilisation jacks. Other options include an awning, a refrigerator, portable toilet a stove, better insulation and more. If you step up to the higher-spec J-cabin Mini W, the interior becomes pretty cosy with a vintage feel.
Mystic doesn’t note how much these campers weigh, but at 3.23 m-long, they remain within kei regulations.
Going for the J-cabin Mini W also nets you an exterior that looks vintage to match. This thing is just a shower and solar panels away from being a viable camper!
Now here’s the kicker. While your favourite Japanese cars may be locked behind the 25-year import law, this camper should not be. Slide-in campers are not vehicles like a car, truck bus, motorhome or a trailer. Thus, the importation of something like this should be treated like freight. The closest that I’ve found to a confirmation is an old Customs ruling suggesting that a pickup truck camper from Canada should be taxed under the classification of vehicle parts and accessories.
People on forums seem to back up the idea that there isn’t an import ban in your way. I’ve reached out to Customs for clarification.
The cheapest price for a Mystic J-cabin Mini is about $US13,900 ($19,296). That’s not bad, but you’ll also have to get it shipped to the States then pay taxes on it here. Then, with some patience and maybe some luck, you can have the tiniest, slowest way to go camping in a truck.