Explorations in Japanese Culture
Sometimes I hear about things from Japan from the most unexpected and strange places. While meeting with my marketing professor this week about my thesis, he brought up this crazy trend called dekotora. He obviously knows of my interest in Japan and had read about it while teaching a class on consumer behavior. He showed me some pictures and we talked a bit about it and I decided I that I had to write about it and learn more. It is funny, when I imagine American truckers, I think of redneck and meat eating men who drive around the country. But of course, I love Japan for always being able to surprise me.
Dekotora (デコトラ), shortened version of decorated truck, was originally the brain child of two people working in a manufacturing plant in the early 1970s, who decided to make their own extremely decorated trucks. The craze did not really take off though until the film company Toei released their first of a ten part series of movies called Truck Guys (トラック野郎 Torakku Yaro), which featured protagonists who drove dekotora. With the popularity of the movie the dekotora craze began across Japan and while it still is around today it is not nearly as prevalent as it once was during its hey day. Below is a trailer for one of the first movies to really get the craze started.
In making a dekotora truck the goal is to make it as elaborate and flashy as possible, while still keeping the truck operational. Additions to the truck are very flashy both inside and outside with bright lights, neon, chrome and pretty much all the flashy things you could imagine. The beds often have large murals that look to be influenced by traditional Japanese art. The trucks shine the brightest at night though! If you are interested you can even try driving one of these fashionable rigs out in the video game that was released in 2008. G4TV also has a great video about dekotora below
Recently, Vice did a video looking at dekotoras in which they take time to explore them and interview those responsible for their creation. The video has some real cool stuff in it, but in all honesty, the two hosts are a couple of tools. If you want to watch it and get some great info on dekotoras this is a great example. But, don’t hate me when you get annoyed as hell at the stupid hosts. You can see it here