Dekotora – Decorated Trucks!
1. Get a truck.
2. Paint incredible airbrush fantasy images all over it.
3. Add as much chrome as you possibly can.
4. Attach a spectacular number of colored globes, LEDs and UV lights.
5. If it’s not yet beyond comprehension, go back to step 2.
The beast you have created has a name: デコトラ “DEKOTORA”!
Dekotora By Day – a Chrome Overload!
Back in the early 1970’s a few enthusiasts began decorating their trucks by buying all kinds of used parts from junkyards and attaching them to their vehicles.
The trend caught on and grew, helped to a great extent by the popularity of truck movies of the time. Truck owners in fact began trying to decorate their trucks so much that they would be invited to appear in such movies.
Popularity grew, dedicated dekotora shops appeared and for the last 30 years styles have continued to evolve in ever-increasingly vibrant, colourful and outrageous ways.
Other than large gatherings and special events, one occasionally stumbles across groups of dekotora at highway stops. I was fortunate enough to spot some on a journey:
(click all images to enlarge)
Dekotora After Dark – the Explosion
At night Japanese cities are aglow with light and colour, but in terms of pure illumination density these machines are untouchable.
Nothing even comes close to matching their explosive blaze of light – not a fairground nor amusement park or nightclub. It’s truly spectacular.
Here, day turning to night at a dekotora gathering.
Photographer Satoshi Minakawa created an entire series of images of customized vehicles, including dekotora:
Minakawa’s images also include customized “dekotora style” bicycles! See some more of this work on his exhibition page.
Here’s a really informative video by VICE featuring plenty of footage and interviews with dekotora owners including one of the original dekotora creators from the 1970s.
And a hyped-up American video by G4 complete with US road-rock soundtrack.
More Dekotora – links!
The Japanese Wikipedia page is a great resource, describing at some length the history of dekotora evolution as well as going into detail about many features found on the trucks themselves.
An incredible number of images on the Flickr Dekotora pages.
Also check out the Art Truck Seki blog, predominantly focussed on photography and dekotora.
There are also thousands of dekotora videos on YouTube.
What do you think of dekotora?