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Spotlight on . . .
[ Japanese Car Culture ]
Japanese car culture is as difficult to understand as Japanese culture itself. Currently experts distinguish several popular car cultures and modification styles. Although these styles can often merge into each other. The followers of these differing styles each have their own title, some of which are set out below.
[ Dress Up . . . !! (ドレス·アップ) doresu appu . . . !! ]
The Customising of cars in Japan has many forms including engine mods as well as body styling mods. Dress up (ドレス·アップ) ‘doresu appu‘ is the term often used in Japan to denote such modifications. What follows is an attempt to explain some of these styles !!
Bōsōzoku style (暴走族 スタイル)
Bōsōzoku style car and moto culture is all about teen rebellion. Teenagers, inspired by popular comic shows and TV animations, try to build not only fast cars but style them, as if a comic book hero would drive it. The Bōsōzoku style is often referred to under various names such as : Grachan; Kyusha style; Shakotan; VIP style & Yanki style amongst others.
Bōsōzoku style cars should best be described as the cars driven by Japanese gangs. This is partly true of course, but a lot of people actually like the Bōsōzoku styling as well even though they are not a member of a gang. ‘Bōsō‘ means runaway/out of control and ‘Zoku‘ translates as tribe and in this case to mean gangs. ‘Sha‘ Means car/vehicle in Japanese, so ‘Zokusha‘ is often used to describe Bōsōzoku style cars.
The modified cars are extremely flashy with large exhausts and aerodynamic kits as well as bright paint jobs. The Bōsōzoku/Yankii ‘punks or rebels‘ also include the ‘Yamamba‘ (山うば) lit: mountain witch which is a hardcore subset of ‘Gyaru Girls‘, which in turn has more forms: ‘Ganguro Gyaru‘ (ガングロ·ギャル); ‘Gyaruo‘ (ギャル男); ‘Oyaji Gyaru‘ (オヤジ·ギャル); ‘Manba‘ (マンバ) and ‘Kigurumin‘ (キグルミん). All of which have differences in appearance and style of dress.
Shakotan (シャコタン) literally means ‘low car‘ and is used mainly for indicating extremely lowered street cars with wings and big exhausts.
Yanky style (ヤンキー·スタイル)
During the 70’s and 80’s in the Ōsaka area the street fashion of the day was the wearing of colourful Aloha shirts and pants and this caused the wearers to be called Yankees (yankii) in Japanese. Basically it is the same style as Shakotan with the exception of the wide fenders.
Bippu (VIP) style (ビップ·スタイル)
Bipppu style (ビップ·スタイル) which is a very rough translation of VIP is said to have originated from design preferences of Yakuza gang members. These outlaws had a thing for luxury cars and spent a good deal of time and money improving their specifications. The luxury cars and business like styling were chosen to blend with other cars and avoid detection by rival gangs and more importantly, the police. The cars in this style are large and consequently do not have a kei-car following. However, a Suzuki Cappuccino is known to have been given this treatment !!
Kyūsha style (旧車スタイル)
Kyūsha style literally means ‘Japanese old classic car‘ which in a lot of cases means it is an old car modified with some (smaller) fender flares with lowered and nice rims.
Grachan style (ガルチャン·スタイル)
Grachan style or ‘Garuchan style‘ comes from the 70’s & 80’s Grand Championships held at the Fuji Speedway. The Bōsōzoku used to have big meetings on the parking lots of these events. These cars also had the same body styling as the cars running on the circuits, with big wide fenders. ‘Grachan‘ can also be written ‘gurachan‘ (グラチャン) as in the examples below which is pronounced slightly differently.
Onikyan style (鬼キャン·スタイル)
Onikyan style (鬼キャン·スタイル) aka ‘Demon Camber style‘ has become just a visual design style, after such modifications were abandoned by the drifters. Many people thought that cars with negative camber would handle better around the track but such modifications had more disadvantages than advantages. So most people now only add such modificationss as visual features.
I t a s h a (痛車)
‘Itasha‘ literally in Japanese translates as ‘A car which causes pain for those who look at it‘.
‘Itasha‘ is a way of expressing oneself for people who like cars and who are also into Anime, Manga & Video Games. The fictional characters involved are predominantly ‘cute‘ females and decorations usually involve paint schemes and stickers.
‘Anime‘ (アニメ) refers to the animation style originated in Japan. It is characterized by distinctive characters and backgrounds (hand-drawn or computer-generated) that visually and thematically set it apart from other forms of animation.
‘Manga‘ (漫画) is Japanese for ‘comics‘ or ‘whimsical images‘ and is developed from a mixture of traditional ‘ukiyo-e‘ art and Western styles of drawing, and took its current form shortly after World War II.
‘Anime & Manga‘ share many characteristics, including : exaggerating (in terms of scale) of physical features, the best known being large eyes, dramatically shaped speech bubbles, speed lines and onomatopoeic and exclamatory typography . . . !!!
(Example of Itasha)
[ The car above features ‘Nia’ from ‘Gurren Lagann (グレン·ラガン) on the hood‘ ]
‘Gurren Lagann‘ first appeared as a television series on TV Tōkyō and ran for 27 episodes. It has subsequently appeared in Anime, Manga & video games. Several music albums of backing tracks have also been released. Gurren Lagann has received widespread critical acclaim and was given a full ‘A’ rating by Anime News Network.
O t a k u (オタク)
‘Otaku‘ is a Japanese term for people with obsessive interests, usually of anime & manga fandom. In modern Japanese slang, the term Otaku is best translated as geek or nerd, but in a more derogatory manner than used in the West. These days, however, the term has become less negative, and an increasing number of people now identify themselves as Otaku. As a sub/counter culture, it enables people who haven’t achieved academically in Japan to bypass normal social hierarchy.
[ C U S T O M C A R S ]
The Dream Factory Blow specialises in tweaking the aesthetics of pint-sized kei cars and trucks to create miniature interpretations of classic American cars like the 1972 Chevrolet C10 pickup truck or the 1985 Chevrolet van. Dismantling a substantial portion of the vehicle’s body structure does have an impact on frame stiffness, and to that end, the Dream Factory has to have its vehicles tested by the Japanese government for safety.
D e k o t o r a (デコトラ)
Decotora (デコトラ dekotora) meaning ‘decorative truck‘, commonly use neon or ultra-violet lights, extravagent paint jobs and chrome or stainless steel and sometimes even gold-plated parts to decorate their trucks both inside and out. They are also referred to as Art Trucks (アート·トラック āto torakku). They are usually created by workers from their workday trucks, many of whom are self employed. They are also enjoyed by enthusiasts on a hobby level and paraded at many of the special events that occur throughout Japan. Even small kei sized trucks and ocaasionally cars receive this treatment as in the picture (above).
[ G A L L E R Y ]
The Daihatsu Copen: