Dekotora or Decotora, an abbreviation for “Decoration Truck”, is a loudly decorated truck found often in Japan. Dekotora commonly have neon or ultraviolet lights, extravagant paints, and shiny stainless or golden exterior parts. These decorations can be found on both the cab and the trailer, and not only on the exterior but also in the interior. Dekotora may be created by workers out of their work trucks for fun, or they may be designed by hobbyists for special events. They are sometimes also referred to as Art Trucks, (?totora).
In 1975, Toei released a movie Trucker (torakku yar?) that featured as the protagonist a costumed trucker who drove his garishly decorated truck all over Japan. This movie was a big hit with both old and young, and caused a wave of Dekotora popularity to sweep over the country. While Dekotoras were present throughout the 1970s, before the movie they were restricted to the north-eastern fishing transport trucks. It is possible that the movie was an attempt to popularise this kind of trucks. In those days, ready-made parts for trucks were not easily available, so these trucks freely utilised parts from sightseeing buses or US military vehicles.
The Deko-Chari is a form of art bike indigenous to Japan dating back to the mid 1970s. ‘Deko’ in Japanese is short for decoration and ‘Chari’ is slang for bike. The Dekochari was a response by children to the Dekotora (‘Tora’ is short for Truck) craze which swept Japan after a series of movies called ‘Truck Yaro’ came out. These movies featured giant trucks decked out in chrome and flashy lights.