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Japan’s Dekotora Culture

  • 07
  • 09
  • 2016

Have you seen Transformers? I bet I’m not the only one who has jokingly requested a transformer truck for Christmas.

Well, maybe this year it doesn’t need to be a joke.

People all over Japan have their own Transformer trucks, and it’s common to see them driving on the roads, parked at gas stations, and going about their duties.

The trucks are known as Dekotora, which is short for ‘decorated truck’ in Japanese.

The outside is decorated with pounds and pounds of chrome, neon, crystal, lighting, and really any other material you could think of, while the driver’s cabin is often covered in velvet, fur, leather, and occasionally imitation Louis Vuitton upholstery. Get lucky, and you may even spot one of these trucks with an elaborate chandelier hanging in the front.

These trucks often take years to build and are worked on by the whole family with each member adding their own small addition in the way of color coordination, Manga illustrations, or upholstery choices.

The Dekotora movement began after the release of the film Torakku Yaro in 1975, in which two Japanese truck drivers partook in wild adventures while driving an over the top and elaborately decorated truck.

For some, the Dekotora means more than just having a visually appealing truck. It symbolizes yin and yang – the beauty and struggle of having two very different situations occurring simultaneously. A smelly and revolting garbage truck is made beautiful and unrecognizable by Dekotora, but in reality, it still remains a garbage truck. It is this idea and Japan’s love of everything in your face that has allowed Dekotora to still flourish today.

On a random side note, the largest number of light bulbs on any one Dekotora truck is 163,290!

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