The Subculture of Japanese Trucker Art

By

29th Aug, 2013

Lit up like a Christmas tree’ doesn’t quite cover it. Moving pieces of art, embellished with massive neon lights and bling-tastic chrome; something between a science fiction robot and a Las Vegas arcade. “Decotora” trucks (translation: trucks decorated with illuminations), are the emblems of an unlikely subculture to emerge in the last decade out on the lonely highways of Japan.

In the summer of 1998, photographer Tatsuki Masaru started taking photos of the Japanese decorated trucks and getting to know the drivers behind the pimped-out wheels…

There are a few theories about how and when the Decotora subculture began. In the 1970s, the fishing trucks from north east Japan began painting and decorating their rigs shortly after the release of a cult movie series called Trucker. But it wasn’t until a decade or so ago until things started to get really serious with the chrome and that whole mobile casino look.

Our photographer thinks the subculture was mostly just born out of the loneliness of the truckers. “Their job is tough and lonely”, he says. One driver Masaru got to know well while photographing his truck told him, “At first, I never liked this job. But I had to love my job to live, so I started to decorate my truck.”

The Decotora subculture even encourages some healthy competition. Truckers try to out-bling each other, adding as many bells and whistles onto their rigs as possible. The trick however is to keep the rig street legal and operational. Communities organise roadside meet-ups where truckers and enthusiasts can gather, admire, show-off, borrow ideas or just enjoy the show.

“They can’t keep driving without pride,” says Masaru. “I think DECOTORA is an expression of each driver’s pride.”

So if you’re ever travelling on a highway in Japan, keep an eye out. Then again, you can’t really miss them.

 

Like what you see? You can purchase the coffee table book here.

More info here

:::

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

.

 

You Might Also Like

Comments

More in Desirable DigsDon't Be A TouristInspiration VaultNostalgiaOff-Beat & Little KnownTime travel

Hot Off the Press

Editor's Picks

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Picture Perfect LA

You should probably know that I'm a California virgin and so this was my first visit to the city of Angels. When you arrive in such an iconic city, it can be a little overwhelming to know where to st...

Trending 72
SONY DSC

10 of the Most Fantastical Burning Man Creations

This week, an otherworldly gathering in the desert is taking place in the Black Rock Desert of Northern Nevada. A celebration of life, earth and all the incredible things we're capable of building and...

Trending 10,555
johnies

Hollywood Ghost Diner

I've been on the lookout for a truly authentic 1950s diner since I arrived in California. I finally found it, driving down Wilshire Boulevard and screeching to a halt as soon as I locked eyes o...

Trending 7,989
featureclub

My LA Boogie Nights Bar

After 24 hours in the city of Angels, I had yet to find the perfect LA hangout I was looking for. I have this romantic vision of Angelinos hanging out on seventies lawn chairs in their backyards wi...

Trending 4,233
phantomlake

Unmasking the Parisian Phantom of the Opera

What if I told you there is a lake under the Paris Opera House, just like in The Phantom of the Opera? Down, down, down, deep underneath the Garnier Opera in a dingy room with a square-shaped hol...

Trending 20,331
mecaniquefeature

The San Francisco Antique Playground

This might sound odd, but I'm not really a museum buff. I generally find that if something is behind a barrier or kept in a glass box where I can't pick it up or touch it, I won't linger very long i...

Trending 4,984