Dekochari – Japan’s Flamboyant Bike-Decoration Culture

Dekochari (デコチャリ) is a bicycle decoration movement specific to Japan, and that is characterized by the use of plywood accessories, chrome plating, elaborate light displays and hi-fi audio systems.

Dekochari can be traced back to the 1970s, back when Japan’s Dekotora truck decoration trend started gaining traction. Unable to unleash their creative decorating talent on trucks, kids started adapting the same general style to their bicycles, and they ended up creating their very own culture. Dekochari thrived right alongside dekotora, but as the trucks’ excessive lighting and extra weight started posing legal problems to drivers, both cultures kind of faded from the roads of Japan, and today dekochari bikes are considered rarities.

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Just like in the heyday of dekochari, most owners of decked-out Japanese bicycles are teenagers or young adults who grew up fascinated by the designs and light shows of dekotora trucks. As getting their hands on their own trucks was impossible, they settled for a bike instead.


Although the decorations used for dekochari bicycles may seem lightweight, under all that plywood and chrome plating is some heavy equipment, and it’s not uncommon for these vehicles to end up weighing close to, or even over 100 kilograms (220 pounds).


Because an elaborate light display and a hi-fi sound system complete with speakers and dekotora-style horns are essential for a proper dekochari bike, most such vehicles feature a car battery underneath their shiny exterior.


Most of the decorations used on dekochari bicycles are handmade, or bought from shops that specialize in dekotora truck parts.


Nowadays, dekochari bikes are rarely seen on the streets of Japan, and enthusiasts only showcase their creations at special events.


There are currently several legal dekochari bike gangs in Japan, including the All Japan Hishyomaru fleet, the All Japan DC Club Ryumaki and the All Japan Kyokugenmaru Gang.


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