Dekotorameans “decorated truck,” but it is best described asGodzilla meets Transformers. The gaudy rigs sport acres ofchrome, neon, and velvet, and drivers ride in cabs illuminated by chandeliers.
Some 300dekotorarolled into arally in Chiba thatRobert Bensonchecked out in June. Every rig in his seriesJapanese Decoration Trucksis more outlandish than the last.“Theyre either trying to be as badass as they can, or as hardcore traditional Japanese as they can, or to be cute, says Benson.
Dekotoragrew popular afterthe 1975 film Torakku Yar, in which two drivers enjoy wild escapades in a flamboyantly decorated truck. Much like the colorful trucks of India, these trucks deliver everything from lumber to produce. Drivers spend ungodly sums bedazzling theirMitsubishi Fusos, Hino Rangers, and Nissan UDs.
The interiors are equally ostentatious. Chandeliers are ubiquitous,andBenson saw cabs swaddled infur, leather, velvet and even imitation Louis Vuitton upholstery. Crystal knobs and buttons are a common sight, as are dashboards that light up like Vegas casinos. They looked like the Millennium Falcon cockpit, says Benson.
Benson wandered aroundwith aCanon EOS 5DR R, a24-70 mm lens, and a couple of flashes. He favoredextreme close-ups that accentuate the enormity of the trucks and their elaborate decor. The show is one of fourheld throughout the year, drawing drivers from throughout Japan to swap stories, drink beer, and talk smack. Many bringtheir families, who dinein makeshift living rooms erected in the back of each truck.
For drivers, dekotora are about craftsmanship and pride of ownership. Its all do-it-yourself, says Benson. Theyd have me get down to see under the truck so they could point out what they did. Theyre ultra proud.
As they should be … just so long as the dekotora dont join the Decepticons.