Dekotora Trucks: Drivable Works of Art Made in Japan

Dekotora truck, Photo by Todd Antony
Dekotora truck, Photo by Todd Antony

For more than 40 years, some drivers in Japan have been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars turning their trucks into flamboyantly decorated vehicles, called “Dekotora.” Inspired by the 1970s Japanese comedy-action film-series “Torakku Yarō” (Truck Guys), the drivers have been painting their vehicles with distinctive designs and logos, adding neon or ultraviolet lights, chrome accents, velvet, fur and leather fabrics and upholstery, and even chandeliers to their rides.

The trucks’ extravagant style is what ignited the interest of London-based advertising and fine art photographer Todd Antony to head off to Japan to shoot the project “Dekotora.” “I’ve been researching various subcultures all over the world, but Japan just seemed like a great place to start the project as it is rife with different subcultures. The moment I came across ‘Dekotora,’ it jumped out at me, and I thought I have to go and shoot that,” Todd Antony shared speaking to Phase One about his wonderful project on the colorful vehicles of Japan, mainly used for special events and as a bizarre hobby for some Japanese people.

The “Dekotora” – a fusion of the English words decoration and truck – is an oddball, motorized subculture, extremely popular in Japanese video games, TV shows, and movies. “The culture itself stems from a 1975 series of ten movies called Torakku Yarō (Truck Guys) that featured a trucker who drove his garishly decorated truck all over Japan. The series was a big hit, and ‘Dekotora’ popularity swept the country,” the renowned photographer explained referring to the origins of this unique Japanese practice of decorating trucks often taking decades to be completed and sometimes costing over $100,000.

Dekotora truck, Photo by Todd Antony
Dekotora truck, Photo by Todd Antony
Dekotora truck, Photo by Todd Antony
Dekotora truck, Photo by Todd Antony
Dekotora truck, Photo by Todd Antony
Dekotora truck, Photo by Todd Antony
Dekotora truck, Photo by Todd Antony
Dekotora truck, Photo by Todd Antony
Dekotora truck, Photo by Todd Antony
Dekotora truck, Photo by Todd Antony
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