Tentmushi truck

May 19, 2010 | 1 comment | Blog Post | Video Podcast

When we began to plan this “movie survival” trip across Japan, our first concern was with making a minimal foot print under the circumstances. We had to search for the smallest and most energy efficient vehicle that could be found for our specific needs. Our choice came upon the Tentmushi. We liked the name which is made from a play with the English word “tent” an obvious one for a camping car, and a Japanese one: tentomushi, in Japanese, means ladybug, a very great looking and valuable insect.

We needed a spectacular car that would attract attention. The Tentmushi, dressed with all the seals from our sponsors, was perfect for that purpose as it has proven over the last few weeks on the road. The Tentmushi is built on what they call in Japan a “Kei Truck” or “light truck” if you prefer.

Tentmushi in the making.tiff  IMG_0585.JPG

“Kei Cars” and “Kei Trucks” must have special yellow plates, since they are not as fast as usual vehicles on highways. The yellow plates also mean that it’s cheaper to drive the “Kei Sizes” on pay toll highways, bridges and that they have special parking places in most parking lots.

It’s always difficult to evaluate sizes, but on the picture we can have an idea from the white lines which are made for your standard car. The Tentmushi takes a lot less space.


I really don’t know anything about cars. To show you how ignorant I am, I couldn’t find the engine when I opened the hood of our Tentmushi.


As a matter of fact, it took me a while to find out that the engine was under the two seats.

IMG_0580.JPG IMG_0578.JPG
From what I can see, this engine is not much bigger than a motorcycle one, and it certainly doesn’t go as fast. On windy days, it’s not very safe to go faster than 90 kilos per hour, even though it can make it to about 110, if one doesn’t mind the rather loud noise that it makes. Up in the mountains, we are talking about a third gear, if not second at times, and around 30 to 60 kilometers per hour. Not that fast, but it gets you where you need to go. The comfort is more or less the comfort of a truck, and there is nothing wrong with that: if we were looking for comfort, we would have stayed home…

But all in all, it’s great fun to drive such a practical, ecological and great looking vehicle. We couldn’t have made a better choice.

Don’t ask me more… I’m only the driver…


One Response

  • andries says:

    The best ever idea how to get one.

    Reply May 11, 2011 3:51 am

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