Disco trucks in the spotlight.

As children that have never really grown up, we at RocketNews24 love big trucks, especially when they’re covered in animestyle designs. That said, what little I know about the world of trucking comes from horror films and a half-remembered viewing of Smokey and the Bandit, a film which, given the size difference between the U.S. and Japan would have been very different had it been made here. Particularly if Smokey and Snowman’s trucks hadn’t been equipped with Japan’s ETC “Electronic Toll Collection” cards to let them pass through the country’s endless toll gates without stopping.

Now my knowledge of trucking is forever changed thanks to this glimpse into the Japanese world of dekotora (decorated trucks). Dekotora are lorries which have been modified and flamboyantly decorated to look like discos on wheels. During the day they may stand out a bit from their rather less luridly painted cousins, but at night they come to life, with more than a few people describing the vehicles as looking like transformers realised.

Step into the brightly lit world of dekotora by checking out the video below:

The video Inside Japan’s Tricked-Out DIY Truck Culture introduces us to drivers who may have spent absolute fortunes on transforming their trucks into visual spectacles. To give you an idea of quite how much, one driver, Masaya Kikuchi, explains he has spent as much as 10 million yen (US$90,000) on converting his truck while Junichi Tajimi’s three trucks have set him back as much as buying a house.

But to those who put their time, money, and perhaps a bit of their soul into them, it’s worth every single yen. And while I won’t be starting my own dekotora project anytime soon, they certainly brighten up the roads for other drivers. With a fifty-year history of dekotora, it’s a lesser-seen niche of modern Japanese culture, and an unusual display of individuality in a society which prides itself on its conformity.

Featured image: Youtube/Great Big Story

[ Read in Japanese ]