What ever happened to Japanese ‘Dekotora’ — decoration trucks?

A couple a weeks ago, my friend, Bobo-the-Clown, who reports for the MSN-Mainichi Daily News asked me: Black Rain - Decoration Truck

What has happened to deco tora? They used to be everywhere, but I haven’t seen one in years. I remember the ones with all the flashing lights like those that appeared in film “Black Rain” were quite common, but it would be at least a decade since I have seen one.

Well, damn if I didn’t find a hot little Dekotora –decoration truck– sitting next my tire and custom wheel shop yesterday in Kawasaki, as you can see below.
Dekotora means decoration truck

Yep, dekotora still exist, but there has been a decline for several reasons. First, number of independent truckers has dropped because gas prices and competition so the number of independent-minded truckers who want to dress up their ride has dropped too. In addition, the government has been cracking down the the more hazardous aspects of dekotora—all that chrome has got to be deadly.

Dekotora means decoration truck

Notice the photo above that in the background on the left is a regular blue ISUZU truck that is the same model and year as the dekotora (デコトラ). This is daytime photo, but at night is when dekotora really shine with neon, ultraviolet and strobe lights, wild paintjobs, and shiny stainless or golden exterior parts. As you can see these decorations are both on exterior and also in the interior the cab and the trailer. Most dekotora are created by independent truckers out of their work trucks for fun, but some are made by hobbyists just for show and special events—those are sometimes referred to as “Art Trucks” (アートトラック).

In late 2004, a kool PS2 game came out called Shin Dekotora DensetsuShin Dekotora Densetsu. But the key to the Dekotora popularity goes way back to the movie series that started the boom in 1975, Truck Yaro (トラック野郎). The series featured a rebel trucker who drove his garishly decorated truck all over Japan. That movie series was a huge hit for over a decade. See the YouTube video of Truck Yaro below and check out one of the many home videos of Dekotora on YouTube.

To see more modern examples of dekotora , visit my press photographer friend, Masa-san’s recently revamped website, MasaMania.com

 decoration truck in Japanese
Exciting Art truck world
MasaMania.com, 12/21/2006
Decorating truck is one of popular Japanese car customize culture genre.
It’s called Art truck or it’s called also Dekotora, means decoration truck in Japanese….more, including a 200-photo slideshow of these trucks...

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I'm a pale, alien, quadruped who has worked for 25+ years at "Maybe-the-Largest Inc." in Tokyo.

5 thoughts on “What ever happened to Japanese ‘Dekotora’ — decoration trucks?”

  1. hey … we’ve been looking for these trucks. know if we can find them in tokyo or osaka? know where we can find them? email me pls.

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