Japan has a unique and diverse truck culture, that’s a mix of practicality, and personal expression. Japan’s cities are often designed to be dense and narrow. After WW2, Car ownership became more and more unaffordable for common folks. Flash forward to the present, in an urban area like Tokyo, about 32% of its population own cars with the majority of folks relying on the country’s extensive public transit.
A common truck employed in Japan’s fishing, agriculture, and construction industries is the humble Kei-Tora or Kei Truck. Along with their low cost and fuel efficiency, they’re suited for manoeuvring around tight and compact urban areas.
Some folks use their Kei Trucks to build and display gardens. These are created out of passion for the craft and inspired by Zen moss and rock garden aesthetics. They’re usually put on display in Osaka, at the Kei Truck Garden Contest where you can visit and even purchase these wonderful creations!
On the opposite spectrum of Japan’s truck decorating culture is Dekotora aka Decoration Trucks. These are highly decorated and customized trucks with elaborate paint jobs, chrome accents, and neon lights. They are often used in parades and festivals. Its origins can be traced back to around 1975 when Dekotora was first shown in the Norifumi Suzuki directed film series Torakku Yaro, translated as “Truck Rascals”. In them, two truck guys drive around in some lavish looking vehicles that looked as beautiful as they were imposing. It wasn’t unusual to see packages delivered by drivers who drove one of these babies! These days, Dekotora maintains the retro vibe and people LOVE them! There are even stores dedicated to selling parts to customize a truck to your heart’s content! Truckers do their own paint jobs, which obviously requires a lot of skill and dedication. Designs for one’s personal Dekotora are constantly evolving, with drivers always on the lookout for new parts and ways to truly express themselves.
These are just a few examples of the interesting and unique trucks from Japan. Each type of truck has its own distinctive style and purpose, and they all contribute to the rich and diverse truck culture in Japan.