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 Conversation StartersDon't Be A TouristEditor's PicksLife is MessyNostalgiaOff-Beat & Little KnownTime travelUnique Hotels

Hot Off the Press

Editor's Picks

hells23

Hitching a ride with Hell’s Angels & Friends

On a Friday afternoon, when the clock is ticking slower than you've ever seen it tick before (you're absolutely sure of it), and all you want to do it burst out of the office and begin the weeken...

Trending 6,814
2554-5 Kinderzitje van fiets Amsterdam 1925

Preserved Moments of Historical Sass (Vol. 8)

I haven't done one of these for a while and I think it's about time we got the series going again. Not much to it, just me having a bit of fun curating the sassiest old school pictures I can find on n...

Trending 13,266
tincan

My Tin Can Tourism Club

I had my first tin can tourism experience this summer and ironically, I found it endlessly glamorous! You can read all about my experience here. Personally, I think tin can tourism needs a come...

Trending 4,347