How Japan’s hauliers want to save their tuning tradition with NFTs

Is it art or just kitsch? In a secluded parking lot 70 kilometers north of Tokyo, it’s hard to say. About 500 truck drivers from all over Japan drove to Ibaraki Prefecture this December Saturday to show off their lovingly tuned trucks.

Deco Tora – decorated trucks are called the colorful trucks that emerged 50 years ago – and are now invading the world of cryptocurrencies. Hideo Nohira is one of the artists. He personally furnished the interior with chandeliers and plush, painted the body of his work machine with Japanese red-headed herons and turtles, lined it with chrome, and sprinkled it with glitter. “They are strong animals,” he says, “they are a good omen.”

The passionate personalization of the work tool costs the Deko-Tora drivers dearly. Ten years of work and 80,000 euros for the material went into Nohira’s truck alone. And his load is still simple. “Some works here cost over 30 million yen (220,000 euros),” says the delivery driver, pointing to the other kitsch works parked bumper-to-bumper.

Many are hung with glittering dials and furnished with hundreds or thousands of small lamps. Almost all are painted, some with manga and anime characters, others with dragons or images of Japanese myths. Many stalks with sharp edges protruding 60 centimeters beyond the bumper itself would never be allowed in Germany.

However, the bombing has created a problem for the truck movement. What was still a megatrend 30 to 40 decades ago is becoming a marginal phenomenon. Because in addition to tighter regulations and growth of large transport companies, there are fewer and fewer self-employed hauliers who can afford the expensive hobby. The largest decorative Torah association Utamarokai now wants to change this fate with a technological innovation from the crypto world: They are trying to sell three videos of the most magnificent vices with an NFT as digital art.

NFT stands for Non-fungible Token, the latest boom in the crypto scene. These are cryptographically unique, indivisible and verifiable representatives of digital works, which mostly use blockchain technology as cryptocurrencies. Unlike virtual money, however, NFTs are not divisible. The idea is to assign them a value that can then be traded transparently and traceably on the Internet.

The truck drivers had already imagined everything so beautifully. They have exhibited their offerings on OpenSea, one of the major NFT marketplaces. They then priced the landing page entry bid for the NFTs with an ether currently trading around $ 2,000.

In return, the buyer receives the video, decorative Torah items and, in the case of the first-time buyer, the right to drive his dream truck. The profits go to the association’s coffers and to children who have been victims of earthquakes or typhoons in Japan.

Only the offer does not attract the masses as planned. If you press the buy button on the ad page, you will be redirected to the trade page on OpenSea. There, however, the suppliers have already reduced the price by half, probably because no one so far has wanted to buy the decorative Torah show.

Japan has always tried everything possible with electronics – and often the impossible. Every Thursday, our author Martin Kölling reports on the latest trends from Tokyo.

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Maybe kitsch art is socially indifferent. The movement dates back to the X-rated Japanese road movie “Truck-Yaro” (truck driver), which evolved into a tenth cult film series in the early 1970s. The film studio wanted to build another, socially more acceptable cornerstone for its Yakuza films.

The American TV series “Route 66” served as a template. But in Japan, the creators chose a local fashion among northern Japanese truck drivers to decorate their vehicles – and guaranteed X-rated ideas. The hard everyday work of two truck drivers was then exaggerated with open sex scenes, vulgar language, slapstick-like beatings, chasing with the police and a big pinch of heart and humor to the lifestyle.

But perhaps the effort involved in buying it is too great, especially for fans of the strange attitude to life, who are often not particularly interested in cryptoting. Anyone who does not already trade in virtual currencies must first open an account with a crypto exchange, explains a promoter in a blog. One must be careful about setting up a wallet that can also trade with the cryptocurrencies Ethereum.

The purchased virtual coin is then transferred to. Then it finally goes to OpenSea. “Step 5: Buy your NFT art!” entices the feature. Perhaps trucking art survived as old masters like Vincent Van Gogh, whose works only became famous after their deaths. At the time of writing, the NFTs were still available.

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