Who needs fireworks when you got it?
Japanese mostly spends holiday time with friends, even those like to hit town or get a lot of shopping in at home – after New Years. And then there are those who like to meet up at the largest gathering in Japan of heavily decorated trucks called dekotora.
Our reporter Masanuki Sunakoma isnt normally one of those people, but this year he made an exception and led down to Utamarokai event in Yorii, Saitama Prefecture.
Japanese club Utamarokai hosts regular events on the night to raise money for charitable raises.
Events such as this generally take place in more rural areas since these types of trucks are normally prohibited from entering major metropolitan areas. So Masanuki had to pull out some things to get to it.
But leave it to truckers to be very transport-minded – Our reporter had no difficulty finding the spot on all of the well-placed signs Utamarokai has placed.
This event ran all night through New Years Eve to New Years Day and most people lined up in the evening to see these beauties lit up in all their glory.
Masanuki had plans that night and could only check it out on Sunday. These seem to be unplugged pinball machines and some of them look sadly missing.
Utamarokai posts clips of light shows that go on at night on YouTube just to get better of what the trucks would be like.
Bright side of the truck was bright, big daylight gave Masanuki much better look at the vibrantly colorful paint jobs. Many had traditional imagery and poems painted on the sides and back.
Others took more contemporary images from the world of anime and movies.
This one kinda fits both categories because Im pretty sure it was a Street Fighter background.
Many trucks filled with grills, bumpers, exhausts and more – including lights and art. Its says it gets harder to find people willing to do these kinds of customizations for affordable prices, making theses types of trucks harder to come by in recent years.
This one has a shimenawa needle used to demarcate a sacred space
But maybe no truck was more custom-made than this one. Its unique chrome captured the setting so clearly it could easily be mistaken for a painting.
And its also had a small trailer specifically decked out for the most precious cargo of all.
Masanuki can look in a kids trailer and is like a big rig in his cabin! You can also set your own convoy on the way!.
And the centerpiece of this and pretty much any dekotora event is the Ichibanboshi. Masanuki showed off a mellow look at the legendary truck in real life.
Truck Yaro films, filmed in late 70s, featured the Ichibanboshi. If you look at some of the real Herbies and Ghostbusters cars for comparisons, I would see yourself standing near you.
Hero Momojiro Hoshi would often have to race against the clock in the Ichibanboshi to help people out. Pfad of kindness, generosity of film have a significant influence on Utamarokai, whose members often spend hours at disaster places, shipping supplies to those who need them most.
Carmaker who donate to charity gets to sit in drivers seat of movie automobile at this event. Truck Yaro fans, Masanuki had the heart of the nostalgia to be able to look out over the same steering wheel as Momojiro.
The cab was also fully decked out with wooden sliding doors, a chandelier, tatami mats and an altar.
Outside of trucks iconic status, inside was like a museum in other ways. A trip to a past, to the moment, felt like a whole other world alone. The radio alone is just a throwback to a past that feels like a whole lot.
Masanuki could really feel that history when sitting in that driver seat. Not only the history of the films, but of Japan that was through a turbulent time of the late Showa Era. It was a heavy feeling, as a little bit difficult to speak.
Specially poignant feeling to see as reporter in 2023. As he walked through the dekotora one last time, he admired the craftsmanship, pride that had had clearly fallen into these vehicles.
Utamarokai regularly brings new events to Japan, you can check out where and where they will be on their website. Be sure to check one out if you can because its not just something of Japan’s art, culture and history, but its also worthy cause to go.
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