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From afar, Japanese Dekotora trucks look as if an entire carnival has been bundled up into one package. Their bright lights and prominent metal fixtures stand out in a  crowd of drab work trucks and and commuting motorists.

Dekotora, or “Decorated Truck”, is the Japanese trend of glamorizing  work trucks, usually fish trucks and other delivery vehicles, and customizing them to fit the interests and styles of the drivers. At first it may seem over the top but this is a long-standing tradition dating back to the 70’s. Back in 1975, a Japanese film company called Toei released the first installment of a ten film series called Torakku Tora (Truck Guys.) The film focused on a truck driver who drove across Japan in a brightly decorated truck much like the ones we see.  The movie was a smash hit in Japan for both the youth and elderly resulting in the birth of the Dekotora movement. There are now enough styles that you can distinguish them by the region they are seen in. They are:

  • Kansai-style
  • Kanto-style
  • Retro-style

Retro style is deemed the most true to the movie series with the Kansai and Kanto styles resembling newer anime influences from the Gundam series. Like many types of car and truck customization, there are multiple magazines and trade shows for Dekotora. Much like the custom trucks in the US,  people are always looking to show off their ride. Here are some more awesome examples of these colorful trucks.

This truck looks like a rolling slot machine!
We can not even image all of the LED lights the driver had to purchase.

Another example of just how bright these trucks are at night.
Surely the DOT would have a field day with these on EU roads.

A great paint job on the trailer of this truck.
It is a little more tame with the lighting but really brings it with the artistry.

A dump truck dressed up in the Dekotora fashion.
Even work trucks can be lit up with decorations.