Itasha: the culture of the ode to the ugly car

At we like to explore and tell you first-hand everything relevant to the world of cars, you already know that we talk about each model in the tests, that we touch on safety issues and advice, but in the field of our social networks we like to go further. there and rescue content series from the trunk of ideas for quick enjoyment in your downtime. Our series about Japanese cars, crappy cars from the 90s, the 2000s or the ugliest cars in the world are already famous. We like to create content, that's how it is. And looking for more ideas we have come across the Itasha culture, which as you seem to elucidate, is a Japanese current that involves cars and pop culture.

Today we delve into this viral phenomenon that combines car obsession of JDM with the love for Japanese animation, the sleeve and the video game. More than a phenomenon, a visual and artistic expression deeply rooted in Japan, but that can hurt your eyes.

The origin of the Itasha culture

The word “ITASHA” is an amalgamation of “italian car” and “itai” (痛い), which means “painful” in Japanese. Originally, this word referred to Italian cars that were excessively personalized, so much so that it hurt to see them. However, over time and the dedication of its owners, the definition expanded to encompass any Japanese car decorated with illustrations of anime, manga or video game characters. This evolution is part of the growing influence of otaku culture in Japanese society but adapted to a wealthier public since modifying a car, whether in Kyoto or Parla, costs its own, but in this case the way in which Japanese motorsports fans have adopted this passion for motorsport is maintained. visual creativity leaving aside the design more typical of the movies Fast Furious.

Key Elements of Itasha Culture

As a good social movement, this culture rooted in the endless parking lots of large Japanese cities involves the combination of the following elements:

  1. Decor– All ITASHA car owners invest a significant amount of time and resources in customizing their vehicles. From the hood to the sides and roof, the cars are adorned with detailed illustrations of characters from these disciplines of animation. These works of art (for some) are often created by well-known artists in the world and can be truly impressive in terms of their complexity and charisma.
  2. Events: The ITASHA community is very active, with numerous events and meetups throughout Japan. From anime conventions to in-person exhibitions, these gatherings provide cultural fans an opportunity to show off their vehicles, exchange ideas, and connect with others who share their passion. Social media also plays a big role in building this community, with dedicated groups on platforms like Instagram where homeowners can share photos and discuss their projects.
  3. Styles: ITASHA culture is quite diverse, although it may not seem like it, in terms of styles and approaches. Some owners prefer eye-catching and colorful designs that attract attention, while others opt for a more discreet and elegant aesthetic. From female characters (“moe”) to mechas (giant robots), there is a wide range of themes and motifs that can be found in Itasha car wraps. Although it must be said that many owners of these cars seem to excessively respect the monothematic design of the figure of the hypersexualized woman, themes that have to be looked at, I guess… (emoji looking to the side).

The FAV cars of Itasha culture

Choosing a specific Japanese model within ITASHA culture is not only about aesthetic preferences, but is also rooted in a deep emotional connection with the history and evolution of cars in the Japanese domestic market.

On the one hand we can have sports cars like the Subaru Impreza, which since its launch in the 1990s, has been revered both for its performance on the tracks and for its distinctive aesthetics. For the more performance savvy, the car was hailed for being equipped with Traction on the four wheels and its turbocharged boxer engine. But its aerodynamic and aggressive design also provides a perfect canvas for customization and ITASHA car owners have taken full advantage of that, adorning their Imprezas with their favorite illustrations.

Another popular model in the ITASHA culture is the Mazda RX-7. First introduced in the 1970s, the RX-7 earned a reputation as one of the most personal sports cars of its time, thanks to its rotary engine and lightweight chassis. His elegant design yet sporty makes it a popular choice for customization. To give you another example, we have to mention other JDM classics, the Toyota GT86 and the Subaru BRZ, which have emerged as a favorite among ITASHA fans in recent years for their more affordable prices and having a perfect balance between performance and driving fun.

But not everything was going to be sports, the legendary Key Cars or the Taxi of the big cities also succumb to the growing fashion of the Itasha and it is not uncommon to see more affordable but equally attractive vehicles rolling through the cities of the Empire of the Rising Sun. Without a doubt, a daring and revered movement in Japan, which clashes with the concept of European tuning that is more focused on performance than on anime figures.

For tastes…

Happy drivers

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