Japanese trukies are keen to decorate their vehicles with colourful lights, graphics and aero parts and chrome panels.
This culture to decorate trucks has been in the industry since 70’s. It is said that it started with the practice to use stainless steel sheets to patch up rusts on the body of small trucks. Then, it had later escalated to decollating their trucks excessively.
A typical style has a long nose chrome-plated front bumper, a big visor on the front windscreen, colourful lights all over the body and air-brushed graphics on the cargo panels with some messages or mottos on the back panel so that the cars following the truck can see.
In the dark, it stands out absolutely as if you are watching a float in a night parade in some amusement park.
Among truck owners in Japan, decorating their truck become the craze when a series of movies about the “deco tora” drivers called “Truck Yaro” started in 1975. The “Truck Yaro” series lasted until 1979 with 10 movies in total. Back then, among Japanese youngsters, owing models of these decorated trucks featured in the movies were in fasion. When I was a kid in Japan, I used to enjoy building plastic models of these deko-toras. My favorite was Ichiban‐boshi (the first star), the truck the main character of the movie series drove, and it was everyone’s favourite too.
One of Charley Boorman’s popular British adventure documentaries “Sydney to Tokyo By Any Means” featured a deco-tora driver and his beloved truck. In the film, Charley was given a lift to go across the Inland Sea of Japan from Shikoku to Kobe. It is fun to watch these deco-toras.
It used to be easy to site these trucks on the street before but you do not see many lately especially in the metropolitan cities. If you travel to rural areas in Japan, you have more chance to bump into a deco-tora.