Going 4 x 4 off road is not about speed
If you are an owner of a Toyota Surf, Jimny or a Pajero, with a few modifications you could be ready to explore off-the-beaten track roads in Okinawa. Driving around Okinawa on the usual pristine roads, you would never imagine this island hosts some world-class 4×4 roads, perfect for exploration.
Although the sport of 4×4’ing is quite popular on Okinawa, many of the off roads remain unmarked and must be discovered through exploration. One known spot that off-road club members like to meet is the Yomitan Mud Pit, which is a legal area where 4×4 advocates can spin mud and get some dirt on their pretty trucks and tires.
To modify your truck and make it off-road worthy, you are going to need some pretty big tires. Tuner shops on Okinawa can help you with all your modification needs to get your truck ready for the back roads. Once you have your new big tires, you are going to need to raise your vehicle. Raising your vehicle prevents it from dragging across the ground in rougher terrain, so you will need to look at adding what is called a lift kit.
Enthusiasm can only get you so far in the 4×4 world of Okinawa. Most beginners are disliked by local diehard off-roaders as they usually run into trouble due to their inexperience and require rescue. Local enthusiast Kevin Lathrop told us, “last weekend I found an abandoned Pejero that had slid off the track and down to the bottom of the hill”. Kevin elaborated on his frustration toward beginner 4x4ers that come unprepared because he ends up spending a lot of time pulling them out of the situation they have gotten themselves into.
The thought of sliding down the side of the hill in your car may frighten some people into never actually wanting to try 4x4ing, but advocates of the sport tell us that it is the thrill of climbing up a steep hill or negotiating through a large crevice that makes the challenge so much fun. After a long workweek, sometimes just visiting the Mud Pit on the weekend to spin mud and slip n’ slide the tires can be therapeutic.
Going off road and 4×4’ing may not be everyone’s cup of green tea, but to the select few on the island that are passionate about working on their trucks to get them off road worthy, it is an addicting passion. 4x4ing is not about seeing how fast you can go, but as Kevin Lathrop says, “it will be the most fun you will have going 4 mph”.