Japan, it’s the one magical word that will conjure up endless images of beautiful natural sceneries, neons, advanced technologies, geishas, kimono, kabuki, sumo, anime, idols, sushi and much much more.
Now take that image, add gold and chrome (lots of it), awnings, baffles, pipes, yet more neons, wings … and blend all of it into a massive truck. Welcome to the world of Dekotora!
Dekotora or Decotora (デコトラ, dekotora) is the local abbreviation for “Decoration Truck”. They are sometimes known as the Art Trucks [(アートトラック), ātotorakku] too. The truckers of Japan love to decorate their trucks with shiny stainless or golden exterior parts, beautifully painted landscapes, kabuki or manga characters,or pictures of celebrities. At night, their fluorescent handiwork come to life with colourful and bold neon and ultraviolet light displays. These decorations usually adorn the cab as well as the trailer, on the exterior as well as in the interior.
So let’s not waste time and explore the world of Dekotora!
Decotora truck owners are very passionate about the looks of their decorated trucks. They have an emotional attachment with their trucks and do not care about the money they spend in decorating these trucks. What gives them the satisfaction and pride is the personalization and symbolic meaning of these art designs on their trucks. The trucks look like artsy monsters after decoration. Seeing at this large scale decoration, anybody could easily confuse these Dekotora trucks to be something art related but automotive. Despite of so much decoration Dekotora trucks still retain their performance ability and are used as reliable workhorses.
Dekotora trucks are styled in three different ways namely Kansai, Retro and Kanto. Since 1990 onwards, these Dekotora have been greatly influenced by the art of Manga and Gundam. Apart from these magazine influenced designs, it is very common to see decorations related to modern art or some of the retro design which bear resemblance to those found in the movie Trucker.
To show off the decoration at night, parts of trucks such as bumpers, the frame of the luggage rack and foils are illuminated using relay computer illumination patterns.
Owners of these decorated Japanese trucks often form groups or Dekotora communities. They organize shows to showcase Dekotora trucks and arrange competitions for best decorated trucks. Prized Dekotora trucks are also showcased in some other events, as these giant trucks are also used as art promotion trucks .
So if you ever visit Japan, keep your eyes open for these big and loudly decorated monster trucks! You cannot say that you’ve been to Japan unless you’ve seen one of these Dekotoras in real life.