Visiting Kyushu Island & 4Friendee Auto Workshop (Where are We – Japan 4)


We have landed in heaven. Toyota Land Cruiser heaven, or to be precise: a Toyota Land Cruiser heaven for our BJ45. Of course we hoped for magic things in our Land Cruiser’s country of birth, but what is happening here is beyond any expectation.

Akihiro Nakashima, the owner of Friendee Auto, is a 40-series aficionado who runs his workshop in a small town north of the city of Kagoshima (on the island of Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s 4 main islands). He does, among other things, an amazing job of restoring old Land Cruisers.

Japan: Akihiro Nakashima of Friendee Auto has been a tremendous help. We lost count on how many new parts have gone into the Land Cruiser.

A Peek into Friendee Auto Workshop

All the work that is being done here warrants much more than this Where-are-We blog post but, in a nutshell, here are some of the issues tackled:

  • Complete new water system (radiator, hoses, heating valve, water pump, thermostat).
  • New bearings on the transfer and overdrive.
  • We overhauled the brake and clutch system (new brake master, new brake pistons all around, new pads all around, new clutch master and slave).
  • We overhauled the steering (new tie-rod ends, linkage).
  • New front lights, rear door rubbers and a heap of other little things will help get the Land Cruiser to drive for another 20 years, or more!

Read More: Travel Information on Japan

Coen and Akihiro
Excited about working here

What else is happening?

Not all is cars and car-related though. While Coen and the mechanics make long hours, 6 days a week, in the workshop, there is time for other sharing too.

We have been taken in by Nakashima family, Akihiro and his wife Mike and three kids Nana, Yuki and Ran. We share meals, lots of laughter, and keep them busy with our little games. One evening we got the company of Stephanie, whom we met in South Korea and hiked a part of the Baekdu-Daegan Trail with.

Read More: Hiking the Baekdu-daegan Mountain Ridge

Land Cruiser overhaul at 4 Friendee Auto, Japan (©photocoen)

Mr. Yamashita and Mr. Mituda, two of the mechanics, each took us in for a part of a weekend (photos with Mr. Mituda’s family haven’t been processed yet). Mr. Yamashita took us to his hometown where there was a lantern festival and stayed at his mother’s home.

When we traveled to the first countries where we didn’t speak the language, like Turkey and Iran in 2003, we managed ‘talking’ with hands and feet. While often you get your point across, I often fell frustrated at how little you could really share when it came to in-depth conversations.

But nowadays we have Google Translate (or some other translation program) and a new world of communicating has opened up to us (of course this has existed for a number of years but since we were in Spanish/Portuguese speaking countries we had thus far not needed it). Whereas the translations Korean – English mostly generated gibberish, the translations Japanese – English work reasonably well.

Read More: Budget Report on Japan

On Sunday Mr. Yamashita and a friend of his took us sightseeing in Kagoshima. At the Sengan-en Gardens & Museum Shoko Shuseikan we saw the art of trimming the typical Japanese-style of trees in the Sengan-en garden of an old Samurai residence.

And we watched the traditional, local form of making glass called Satsuma kiriko-cut glass.

Test Driving

Today is a big day in the workshop. Everything has been put together again, and as I am writing this, Coen is test driving! Hopefully we will soon be on the road again, exploring more of this fascinating and welcoming country.

More on Japan:


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Thank you for your support — Karin-Marijke & Coen

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