Welcome to Dekotora, Japan’s decorative truck craze

Any American who’s watched TV in the last 10 years knows about the custom wheels featured on shows like Pimp My Ride or American Chopper. But despite all the crazy cars that have been built with plasma TV’s inside and motorcycles tricked out to look like robots, it seems they’ve got nothing on a very unique decorative truck-building craze in Japan called Dekotora.

Dekotora, a Japanese abbreviation for “decorative truck,” is a category of elaborately decorated vehicles built by hobbyists in Japan. These brilliant rigs, decked out in blinding UV and neon lights, shiny decorative metal parts and wild neon colors, are built by passionate Japanese truckers looking to get some attention and show off at special events. They look less like drive-able vehicles than life-size Transformer robots, ready to lift off the road and head into battle. Interestingly enough, many attribute the start of the craze to the 1970’s, when a Japanese film series called the “Truck Guys” featured a protagonist with a wildly decorated rig driving around the country.

This passion for custom vehicles isn’t just limited to Japan. In India, rickshaw drivers add custom mud flaps to their rides featuring in Bollywood film stars. And in Thailand, bus drivers have been known to deck out their coaches with airbrushed cartoon characters and elaborate fantasy scenes. Apparently the international driving community is much more artistic than you might expect! Seen any crazy vehicle art during your own travels? Tell us about it in the comments.

[Photo courtesy of Viernest]