Japanese "light cars" or "軽自動車(kei jidousha)" as we call it in Japanese, is extremely important in the Japanese car industry. You can see a "light car" at any corner store, or any street you walk down. From Daihatsu Terios Kid to the Mitsubishi Pajero Mini, Japanese "light cars" come in all different shapes, sizes and colors, just like us, people! But, "light cars" are not for everyone.
If you are looking for a large car, a car with a powerful engine, or even a car that looks cool, you probably won't find one in the "light car" category. But on the otherhand, if you are trying to get a nice affordable car, a small lightweight vehicle, economical vehicle, or even a cute car, then you may find what you need in the "light cars" category.
So, what qualifies as a Japanese "light car" anyways?
Well, there are quite a few requirements for a car to be considered a "light car." They are small vehicles that seats 4, and has an engine that is no larger than 660cc, and has dimentions of less than 3.4m x 1.5m, with no height requirements. They usually are very good on fuel, and can even sometimes come with turbochargers for increased power. These types of cars were introduced to Japan as an affordable transportation that is easily accessible by all classes.
The very first "light car" in mass production wasn't produced by Toyota or Suzuki, but by Subaru! I first learned of this when I took a trip to the Edo Tokyo Museum in Tokyo the other day, where I not only learned how to use the toilet, but I also learned of the Subaru 360. This quaint little car was comparable in size to an older Mini Cooper, and looked like it would be a blast to drive down the road in stuffed with 4 of my largest friends, kind of like in a clown car.
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry at the time, 1955, had promoted the Subaru 360 with the intentions of increasing the number of private automobiles in use. Which marketed cars that would be small, light, and economical.
So if you are looking for a small, light and economical car, go for a "light car!"
Oh, and I also found a couple other gems of cars there too. There was a Ford and Datsun truck. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the panel so I could remember what they were, but they were still fun to look at.