Short for “Decorative Truck,” Deco-Tora is a genre of custom trucks, which has been a popular sub-culture in Japan since the 1960s, among workers in the delivery service industry. Marker lights, painted containers, fun illumination devices, and andon lanterns mark these vehicles along with aerodynamic kit pieces of chrome and stainless steel. The owners plan their designs according to their tastes, so the interiors, as well as exteriors, deliver a flashy punch. Tens of millions of yen go into these elaborate vehicles that sometimes take decades to make, which surged into popularity in the 1970s with the hit films such as Torakku Yaro (Truck Dudes). At the time there were thousands of these trucks on the road. However, since the post-bubble recession, these elaborate trucks have been on the decline because of the exorbitant costs as well as repercussions from new emission regulations. Only about 5-6-thousand of these trucks are still on the road, which is about 10% of the number from when they were at their peak.
In this episode, we visit a charity event held by the “Kimagure-kai” in Kanagawa for children who have lost a parent in traffic accidents. “What are Deco-Tora?” Representative chairman of the All Japan Art Truck Federation and director of the All Japan Utamaro-kai, Mr. Junichi Tajima talks to us about Deco-Tora.