Is it something in the coffee? Is it an otaku thing? Is it a code Japanese truckers have and that we don’t get? No, it’s just dekotora. It’s the practice of decorating (“deko”) one’s truck (“tora”). It’s fairly widespread, but unevenly so – some trucks are quite tame, with just a few extra shiny bits here and there, while others are fairly elaborate, like the one above. And I did catch one really far-out example. So here are a few photos of these things in situ.
Let’s start at the tame end and work our way up. I’ll leave it to those of you who know about these rigs to ID them. As far as I can tell, there are four big Japanese truckmakers: Hino, Isuzu, Mitsubishi Fuso and UD (formerly Nissan Diesel). That sums up my knowledge of JDM heavies.
Even though these are pretty mildly modified, one thing they have in common is their spotlessness. That is one condition of having extra chrome all over your vehicle. If it isn’t super shiny, what’s the point? These guys (and gals, there are quite a few female drivers here now) must take so much time regularly polishing these rigs. You never see them dirty. Let’s kick it up a notch.
There’s a whole subculture about these things, various styles and regional preferences, as well as movies and manga that cater to this world. It’s far too complex for me to even dream to understand it – besides, there’s already been a very detailed CC post about the whole phenomenon (linked below). So I just take a picture or two when I see one I find interesting.
Some smaller trucks (is this case Nissan) also mimic the heavies, but it just doesn’t have the same effect. However, I did see one outstanding “Gundam style” custom job – and as luck would have it, I managed to take a few photos of that amazing vehicle.
There are much, much crazier-looking trucks out there – just type “dekotora” in Google or Youtube to see a few – but this is the wackiest one I’ve caught in the wild. Can’t even tell which marque this tora is underneath all that deko.
I caught it more than once – most recently from my balcony, which made for a cool photo. And in this one, you can see the eerie blue lights that are all over that thing.
Mild cases of this syndrome are abundant, but this is exceptional. If I find another that warrants wider publicity, you’ll be the first to know. In the meantime, I’ll get back to cars – there’s lots to catch in these parts. 10-7, good buddies.
Tales Of Japan – A Short Story Of Dekotora Subculture, by Hombre Calgarian