Dekotora: the Japanese subculture of decorating trucks with neon lights and bright colors
Artist Julie Glassberg's photo report explains the beginnings of this unique culture of upholstered trucks and blaring lights. You can enjoy the story here.
Dekotora is the Japanese translation of "dekoreshon torakku," or "decorated truck." Artist Julie Glassberg's photo report explains the beginnings of this unique culture within Japan's freight transport sector. Dekotora began in the 1970s and originated from painting trucks for advertising purposes, such as a truck selling fish from Hokkaido featuring traditional artwork to advertise its goods.
Over time, Dekotora fashion has evolved into elaborate decorations, both inside and outside the truck. Exteriors are adorned with neon lights, colored bulbs, extensions (on bumpers and mirrors), classic or futuristic chrome finishes, embellishments of various shiny metals, and impressions of Japanese characters conveying messages or images. Inside these customized trucks, one can find bright upholstery and multiple lamps such as lava, chandeliers, keychains, and storage holders.
Today, Japanese regulations prohibit such decorations. The road safety and practical functionality issues generated by these vehicles are evident. Only a few small businesses use these trucks for work, like fish or flower delivery services. While this subculture is closed off, they regularly hold public events to display their creations proudly. Many of these events are for charitable purposes, such as aiding the victims of the 2011 earthquake, who still find themselves in precarious situations.
The world represented by the Dekotora culture is particularly fascinating. As Glassberg notes, these truckers are immensely proud and warm individuals with a traditional lifestyle. It is undoubtedly one of the most curious chapters of #StoriesToRemember in our logistics and transport blog.And what better time to share this story than at the brightest time of the year?