“My generation grew up with the movement [Miyazaki was the first president of the Utamaro Kai]. I cannot say he’s the first one who started Dekotora, but he is the one who organized and called up all the Dekotora guys for the movie ‘Truck Rascals’. The time when the movie was around, all the trucks gathered around from everywhere. Because they really believed that if they decorated their trucks and drove around, their trucks could be used in the movie. Before the [Dekotora] shop opened, we were going to auto parts junkyards to find and buy truck parts. Dekotora culture developed with the Japanese economy when it was blooming. You started seeing a lot of cars in Japan and shipping businesses were getting very active. Dekotora style changes depending on where you are from and what you are carrying. There used to be so many of them” (Taguchi San)
Dekotora is a fantastic example of what happens when something ugly or rough clashes with something beautiful and radical. “The goal of dekotora, it seems, is not to make a silk purse of a sow’s ear, but to test the limits of function in the face of radical form and transformation.” (Mary Duffy)
As Americans, we are a culture of excess. We want more of this or that. We want bigger, better, shinier, new and expensive, yet we don’t recognize the intricacy and transformation that is shown in the people who create dekotora, or the trucks themselves. We often choose not to see two things at once like the ugly beneath the beauty. What might seem outlandish or ridiculous, they see as a display of their very identities, and there hope is to bring joy to those that see their creations. Americans may have something to learn from the dekotora subculture.
Learning about this subculture in Japan really opened my eyes. I learned how important the Dekotora culture was for the Japanese who decorated their trucks, not only to have their trucks in a movie, but to show off their unique personalities, as well as where they are from. There is a great sense of pride that is shown with each truck. I think that there is a lesson for each of us, and that is that you can find beauty in even the most unlikely things.