The hero car from “Truck Guys” is now a real-life hero too.

One of the more colorful quasi-English words in the Japanese language is dekotora, and, fittingly, the term describes some very colorful things. A mashup of the Japanese pronunciations of “decoration” and “truck,” dekotora are gloriously gaudy cargo trucks, covered in lights, ornaments, and massive murals in a style evocative of ukiyo-e paintings, Japanese tattoos, or fishermen’s flags.

Every one of these personalized trucks is distinct, but one of the most famous of all is the Ichibanboshi (“First Star”), and we recently got to see the king of the dekotora with our own eyes.

Dekotora are a whole subculture unto themselves, and their ability to command attention and captivate imaginations inevitably led to a series of dekotora movies called Truck Yaro (“Truck Guys”), and the Ichibanboshi was the truck of its hero, long-haul trucker Momojiro Hoshi. In each film, Momojiro would meet a beautiful woman who needed his help, often in a different region of Japan from his last adventure. Every time, he’d fulfill her request, then have to say a bittersweet goodbye as she began her happily-ever-after with another man. It’s sort of a more rough-around-the-edges version of Japan’s Otoko wa Tsurai yo movie series, or maybe you could think of it as something like a 1970s blue-collar Japanese Fast and Furious.

▼ A scene from one of the Truck Yaro films, in which a trucker beats up the construction crew building an unwanted nuclear power plant, then smashes up the site using his truck with a decorative shark on its roof.

They made a total of 10 Truck Yaro films between 1975 and 1979, all steeped in the pathos of post-World War II, pre-Bubble Economy Japan. After the series wrapped, the Ichibanboshi bounced around between a few private owners, and since 2014 it’s been in the hands of Saitama Prefecture resident Junichi Tajima.

With more than 30 years since it had last appeared on screen, the Ichibanboshi wasn’t exactly ready for its close-ups when Tajima bought it. So he decided to restore it to its former glory, and he went all out. Because this is the original Ichibanboshi, not a replica, Tajima went so far as to track down Tadayuki Kuwana, the man who’d served as art director for all 10 Truck Yaro films back in the ‘70s at film studio Toei, so that he could supervise the repainting of the truck’s murals to their original standards.

▼ And yes, that includes the gigantic calligraphy on the trailer’s roof that reads “A man’s journey is a solitary one.”

For maximum authenticity, they even made sure to use the same type of paint they did in the 1970s, so that it would have the identical thickness and level of luster. The difference between more modern paints is small enough that most people probably wouldn’t have been consciously aware of it, but true Truck Yaro fans would have known that something was off compared to their memories of how the Ichibanboshi looked in its heyday.

Also part of the restoration: making sure every single one of those lights is in proper working order.

▼ Yes, that is a chandelier in the driver’s cab.

▼ The truck has its own garage to keep it looking nice and clean.

Tajima’s desire to own and restore the Ichibanboshi isn’t just because he’s a Truck Yaro fan, though. He’s also the head of the Zenkoku Utamarokai, a charity group that helps with raising money for and delivering emergency supplies to victims of natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. The Ichibanboshi helps out on the former front by making appearances at charity fundraising events, like the one shown here.

▼ Tajima, holding an Ichibanbosh charity calendar

In a way, the Ichibanboshi’s new life of helping those in need mirrors the role it played in the Truck Yaro movies, showing that it’s not just human actors who have the ability to give something back after they make it big.

Related: Zenkoku Utamarokai official website, YouTube channel
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