Explore Japan's Impressive "Dekotora" Truck Culture

Meet the drivers behind the DIY semi-trucks.

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Automotive
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While we usually witness passenger vehicles that are extravagantly modded — and no less on outlandish TV shows like Pimp My Ride — the presence of dekotoras (an abbreviated version of “decorated truck”) in Japan are rebutting that sentiment. These Transformer-like semi-trucks are tricked out with flashing neon lights, intricate paintings and custom modifications that can cost upwards of $100,000 USD. A Great Big Story interviews Junichi Tajima, the chairman of Utamaro-kai — the national association of dekotora drivers — to provide a closer look at this interesting subculture. Started in the country around 50 years ago, Tajima says that the drivers have one passion: to make trucks that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. The value of dekotora isn’t about money, but rather a spiritual expression of their identities and a desire to negate the common misconception that truckers are “aggressive or scary.” Driver Masaya Kikuchi explains that seeing his truck lit in the middle of the night provides a sense of healing. Watch the video above to learn more about these unique works of art.

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