We had been thrown into Japan’s Land Cruiser community with enthusiasm and hospitality thanks to the Land Cruiser’s Festa in Kyushu, which was held on the weekend we arrived in the country (read about it here).
During our months of traveling from Kyushu in the south to Hokkaido in the north (ou ou can find all those stories here), and back to Honshu, many Land Cruiser owners and fans hosted us. We got to stay with, among other people, Masa and Yasuko, Akihiro and Miki (4Friendee), Taku and Ayako, Takahiro and Mai.
The Land Cruiser 40 Meeting East
We feel privileged to have made so many Japanese friends. Even better, we got to see all of them again during this first weekend of June at the Land Cruiser 40 Meeting East. Still jet-lagged from our flight from the Netherlands, we drove from Tokyo to Shizuoka on Friday to make sure we were early and wouldn’t miss a second of this awesome event.
Over the weekend the campsite, at the foot of Mount Fuji, filled with 319 cars, 207 of them being a 40 series. There are some 800 Land Cruiser 40 series in Japan, some 600 of which are registered and regularly used.
This was the biggest turn-out of the Land Cruiser Meeting East since it was first organized in 2000.
Of course there was enough car talk going on and while not a commercial event, every participant could sell stuff. Coen found a secondhand, original window lifter (thanks Tomo!). Muramatsu of Cruiserland (find him here) was selling all kinds of Landcruising Adventure goodies (which we offer here) – how cool is that?!
The organization was super professional. As we camped right next to the registration stand, we saw the organizers getting together twice a day checking off their lists, making sure everything got done.
One of the ways to show how organized they were: At the entrance they had neatly marked parking lots with lines of plastic and one or two people stood at the ready with jackets, helmets and sticks. They indicated all visitors where to park and register before they could move on to finding a camping spot.
The weekend passed quickly with walking around, checking out each others vehicles, sharing stories, and enjoying the good weather. There simply was no time to get bored. For kids there was a special play corner or you could practice beating rice into rice cakes.
Late Saturday afternoon there was a free air balloon ride. The basket was attached to three Land Cruisers with ropes, and the air balloon and went some 30 meters up.
The evening grew later and later with people gathering around meals and opening bottles of sake. Coen learned the hard way that beers, Dutch liquor, shochu and sake don’t mix well…
Sunday was the day for the big line up and a final goodies game of Rock, Papers, Scissors (called Janken in Japanese).
Thanks everybody, and especially Masumi Hamada, Taku, Ayako and all other organizers, for an awesome time together. We’ll miss you!
If you find yourself in Japan and want to join this spectacular event, check out the official website. If you want to keep track of things and see more images, their Facebook page may be of interest to you.