Dekotora: Photographer highlights 'decorated truck' culture in Japan

If you're either a fan of the Blackpool Illuminations, or the Coca-Cola Christmas advert, or possibly both, you're going to love this series by London-based photographer, Todd Antony.

Entitled Dekotora, which translates to 'decorated truck’, the illuminating collection explores an unusual aspect of Japan's culture, which is essentially the practice of adding bling-upon-bling to everyday working trucks.

Anthony explains: "The tradition of drivers decorating their trucks originally stems from a 1975 Japanese movie that drew its inspiration from American films such as 'Smokey & the Bandit'.

"The first Torakku Yaro ('Truck Rascals') movie was released, and nine more followed through the end of the decade. Each Torakku Yaro instalment followed a duo of Dekotora-driving heroes on a different, lovelorn wild goose chase. And while the crazy plots and affable characters certainly spoke to audiences, it’s the glittery, light emblazoned trucks that inspired the movement of Dekotora.

"Drivers started decorating their trucks in the hope of being cast in the movies and the Utamaro-Kai association of Dekotora drivers was started. Things have evolved since then and now the truck designs can be quite personal to each driver and can cost anywhere up to and over $100k, the price of a small house in Japan.

"The Dekotora craze has certainly passed its zenith of the 80s and 90s and has been in decline recently, numbering in the region of 600 drivers in the country now. The Utamaro-Kai association participates in a number of charity initiatives, and has been helping raise funds for some of the areas worst hit by the recent Tsunamis, by staging events in the cities.

"Junichi Tajima, the head of the Utamaro says it is not just about raising money though, but about bringing some light and happiness into the lives of those who have been affected. When asked what Dekotora means to him he said that 'after 40 years, Dekotora is my children, my brothers, my family’."

Check out Todd's website at toddantony.com.

All images courtesy of Todd Antony