Todd Antony a talented and renowed New Zelander advertising photographer currently based in London. Todd focuses on documenting sub-cultures around the world. His latest project “Dekotora”, which translates to ‘decorated truck’, explores an unusual aspect of Japan’s culture, which is essentially the practice of adding bling-upon-bling to everyday working trucks. The trend began back in the ’70s after a movie franchise showcase elaborate trucks. Each truck is highly personalised, and owners often spend thousands of pounds embellishing their trucks exactly to their liking. ‘You can express your way of life, your hometown, your family, all through the decorations,’ explains Junichi Tajima, the leader and chairman of Utamaro Kai, a national association of dekotora drivers.
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’.
Todd Antony used XF IQ3 100MP Trichromatic Camera System for this project.