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This is what you call a Flimsy Fuso...

wild and crazy as japan is, there is another kind of genre of automotive customization which still continues as a fad all over Japan and its called Dekotora.

Dekotora is a short term for decorated truck (デコトラ) is a very serious customization of trucks which involves very big amounts of lights, stainless steel or chrome decorations,  Dekotoras comes in all truck range and sizes from heavy duty classes (such as gigas and super greats) to light classes (canters and elfs), dekotoras are similar to our manila jeepneys but more overly flimsy and radical when it comes to decorations..

A short history of the Dekotora;

The Dekotora fad started in the early 70's were the japanese truck makers were still in the verge of developing highly advanced trucks for the domestic market, a large number of trucks were easily sold to interested buyers, both fuso and isuzu's trucks had a big share of the market and during this eras japan was in the verge of westernization, and during the 70's according to wikipedia, Toei released the first entry in a series of 8 movies called Truck guys (トラック野郎 Torakku Yarō?) that featured as the protagonist a costumed trucker who drove his garishly decorated truck all over Japan. This movie was a big hit with both old and young, and caused a wave of Dekotora popularity to sweep the country. While Dekotoras were present throughout the 1970s, before the movie they were restricted to the north-eastern fishing transport trucks. Most of the japanese deko guys tried to utilize parts from buses and surplus american vehicle accessories.

in the late 90's the dekotora fad was usually influenced by mecha anime and also some other movies and cultural changes but still, dekotora owners made it more possible to put more equipment and fad to their rigs.

even up until now in the late 2000's dekotoras are still saying to the japanese masses the truck is still the king of the roads of japan.

Dekotora regulations, equipment and classes

A fuso fighter dekotora modified for towing usage, note this dekotora is not as overly decorated like dekotora cargo vans and  dekotora dump trucks
according to wikipedia; Dekotoras used on highways for transportation and shipping must have their  modifications  pass inspection and be approved, and any departures from the regulations cleared.

External Parts

Front deck - Dump trucks or semi-trailer trucks usually have deflectors, rain sheets, and fixtures for attaching ropes etc. stored in boxes atop the driver's seat (the cab) of the truck. In Dekotora, these are stainless steel or chrome plated. The front deck may additionally have bird-cages, cylindrical ornaments (called "rockets"), and so forth. These "rockets" are said to imitate the air-conditioning ducts commonly found on Super Buses run by the HATO Bus Company.

Side mirror - While the rims of the side mirrors are sometimes plated in Dekotora, it is far more common to see the arms of the side mirrors modified in showy ways. Often, to show hardness, these arms are replaced with wide bore metal tubes.

Visor - Dekotora often add sunroofs or visors (if they didn't exist already) to the cabs of the trucks.

Front bumper - The front bumper is one of the primary means of creating an impressive image in Dekotoras. It is common to see the front bumpers from different makes of trucks transplanted to the Dekotoras, and they are often accessorised with paper lanterns or fog lamps.

A dekotora canter
Body forms

Boat: Some Dekotora modifications make the front of the truck appear like the bow of a boat or ship when seen from above.

Cadillac: Some Dekotora change the front bumper to resemble Cadillac cars made in the 1970s.
Russell: The side view gives a diagonal cross-section, similar to a snow-plow.
Reverse Russell: The side view is the reverse of a normal Russell form.

Side bumper Instead of the usual pipes used for side bumpers, Dekotora use broad planks, often decorated with paper enclosed lanterns (行灯 andon?)or other kinds of illumination.

Rear bumper - The design of the rear bumper is naturally heavily influenced by the type of truck that is being modified. In boxcars or semis, the rear stairs are fitted with load carrying trays if needed. The tail lights will have garish additions such as signs saying "reverse" instead of the usual red lights, or lights that flash in unusual patterns.

Steps - The steps behind the cab used to climb the trailers are often illuminated and decorated with paper lanterns, etc.

Electrical decorations - Glass or resin plates decorated with writing are installed on illuminated panels on the front window, starting from the bottom to the top of the front deck, the visor, and all around the bumpers. The nickname of the truck, the name of the trucking company, or a catchphrase is usually emblazoned in front of the luggage rack. At the bottom of the front window, often disregarding regulations, the car emblems of different makers such as Hino or Mitsubishi are affixed.To show off in the night time, the frame of the luggage rack, bumpers, foils etc are illuminated. The illumination patterns are programmed using a relay computer. People who do not care about Dekotora often complain that these trucks look like Pachinko parlors.

Other parts

Van-body Dekotora often have "rockets" and decorative boxes placed on the luggage racks above the cabs.In dumptrucks and semis, the hinged panels of the body reshaped to increase the height of the truck, and the front and rear decorations are co-ordinated.Exhaust pipes connectors called "muffler cutters" are sometimes used, and chimney mufflers as used on American trailer trucks are sometimes used.Patrol lights are sometimes affixed to the cabs. However, as these are not emergency vehicles, they are prohibited from using red lights.The fuel tanks are sometimes plated in aluminium and sometimes refashioned as cylinders instead of the usual box shape.

Materials used in the parts Plated steel or aluminium is common for the decks, bumpers, visors, "rockets", and body panels. Stainless steel is also sometimes used, often with neat etchings or embossed designs of awards the Dekotora or its owner has received.

For the cabs, not only solid paints but also expensive and exquisite paints based on mica, pearl, metals (not limited to marketing paints), lame, etc. are often used.

The chassis frame is sometimes red coloured and fashioned as 19th century European gatling gun bases.

The designs used on the trailer of the truck depends very much on the tastes of the owners. The following themes are often seen, though the designs are often a combination of individual concepts. It is also possible to have no designs at all, or designs used on van-body trucks.

Animals - dragons, tigers, hawks, fish, dinosaurs, hounds, cats, etc. Dragons are extremely popular. Fairy tale cats, penguins, etc. are also becoming increasingly popular.

Plants - sakura, chrysanthemum and peony trees are common. Etchings claiming that "sakura is Japan's national flower" are found often. The "flower king" of the T'ang dynasty is represented with the peony trees in the Kabuki style.

Humans-  historical personalities or performers are sometimes used. It is also common to see historical themes. Formerly, scenes of the military commanders from the Sengoku period lined up with Jūnihitoe (十二単 jūnihitoe?) or courtesans (花魁 oiran?) were popular. Nowadays specific personalities are more commonly seen, though there is always the question of the rights to paint portraits of modern figures.

Scenery - mountains, seas, and citiscapes etc. Trucks that transport seafood often depict fishes and waves. Uogashi (魚河岸?) marks are commonly seen. Christian Lassen-style pictures of the sea are sometimes seen.
Kabukithis genre is popular because of the preponderance of dragons that are believed to add splendour and embolden the spirit.

Religious symbols - Buddhist symbols and omens depicting sunrise, the Seven Lucky Gods (七福神 shichifukujin?), Guan Yin (観音 kan'on?), etc. Often these symbols carry a prayer for the prosperity of a business when used on business vehicles. Hatsuyume (初夢?) of Mount Fuji is a common symbol.
Animation characters from Disney, Studio Ghibli, Gundam etc. movies and TV shows.

if you bacolod otakus wanna see more dekotoras you can see more posts here and here and some more

more sites:


Thiruppathy Raja said...

Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow /Hey thanks man!! you are so good. I think this the perfect work.

Truck Mufflers

Zeno said...

Hi I'm doing a project on Dekotora's - I'm not from anywhere near Japan, but in Europe and i was wondering if there are Japanese magazines on/about Dekotora's - im looking at the communicational expects of the Dekotora's!
would be nice to get some extra insights on the subject other than internet imagery.. - Do you maybe know some magazines?