Americans like to pimp out their muscle cars with rims, LEDs, exotic paint jobs, and more. The Japanese like to decorate their…semis. Of course they do it in Japanese obsessive-off-the-kappa style. These decorated trucks or dekotora look like Las Vegas on 8 wheels. Workers actually use these Art Trucks (atotrakku as they are also known) for work. Of course, there are also hobbyists who bring theirs out for shows and festivals.
Dekotora is thought to be inspired by the movie Truck Guys (Torakku Yaro) where the main character drove a garish truck all over Japan. Ah, nothing like a 70’s movie eh?
Dekotora are shiny to put it mildly. They sport neon and UV lights, flamboyant paint jobs, stainless steel and even gold decorations, and more grills than American rappers. Don’t forget all the horns. Basically they are covered with everything the owner’s obsessive tastes enjoys and their budget can support. It is a wonder these things can actually move.
This being Japan, you’ll see dekotora that look like Gundams. Others look like moving slot machines. Heck, many of these trucks look like they could light a small city when they roll through. Many also resemble Yakuza tattoos with their paint jobs.
There are 3 styles based on the region they originated from: Kansai, Retro, and Kanto. Retro harkens back to the Truck Guys movie. Kansai and Kanto pull heavily on magazines, Gundam, and other anime influences. Like our own car shows, there are communities and festivals where people show off their rides. They are also sometimes used as (loud) advertisements; although they are mostly considered a form of art.
Surprisingly dekotora are still used to haul and do work. You’d think people would be afraid of hauling freight with such an expensive truck, but these drivers are passionate about their work.