Dekochari: Art bikes of Japan

Check out this awesome nighttime video of Dekochari – Japanese art bikes (Deko = decorated, chari = slang for bicycle). The bikes are ‘dressed up’ to resemble Dekotora, highly stylized trucks popular in Japan in the mid 1970s. Loaded down with flashing lights, boxes, mirrors, cup holders, hi-fi systems, everything – these bikes (and their bigger truckier cousins) are particularly impressive at night. There are several active dekochari fleets in Japan to this day.

This is another great example of bike culture evolving from established trends in the existing culture, promulgated by youth. (Yes, that’s a double word score if you’re keeping track).

As the great wiki explains:

Unable to drive the giant chrome-plated flashing trucks they coveted, children instead built plywood boxes around their bikes and attached chrome plating and lights. Almost all current Dekochari’s have elaborate light displays and many include hi-fi audio systems and cup-holders.

The Dekotora were popularized by the Torrakku Yaro (trucker) movies of Norifumi Suzuki starting in 1975. A great set of galleries from Japan here (most links are below “2006’N – explore a little, it’s worth it.). Night time galleries from Pink Tentacle are here. dekotora3.jpg

The Dekochari are often difficult to recognize (big gallery at that link) as bikes in photos due to the huge amount of decoration. I can only imagine that these beasties are mostly popular in the flatter regions of the island nation.

decochari_08.jpg

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All this raises difficult moral, ethical and logistical questions: Could I? Would I? Should I? Seeing that I live at the top of a hill, already have more personal bicycles than members of my family, and a job that expects occasional time away from aforementioned bicycles I think the answer is No. I’d love to see some of these art bikes showing up at next year’s Solstice parade , but I don’t think I’ll be doing the making.



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